Thursday, July 30, 2009

Are CVE President Peg Myers and CTA trying to shut me down again?

NOTE TO GOOGLE: If the people who are demanding that you shut down my blog could get a court to shut down my blog, they would have done so. Some of them sued me for defamation on October 5, 2007. I hope you'll let the justice system take care of this matter.

UPDATE: Sitemeter says Google was looking at my site for 58 minutes starting at five minutes after noon today. I suspect California Teachers Association is demanding that they shut down my blog.


Google has me under a microscope. CVESD Reporter blog had five visits from the Google company this morning, from at least six different IP addresses on two continents (North America and Europe)! Someone must have complained about my blog. My guess is that it was California Teachers Association. They seem to do this every time Chula Vista Educators President Peg Myers doesn't like something about my blog.

Peg is probably mad because I found out who was elected in the secret union elections in May.

Peg seems to be very determined to prevent the public from knowing who the union leaders are. (She's not into transparency. She apparently decided to abandon the recently-begun Chula Vista Educators website in its infancy rather than post election information on it.)

The biggest secret of all is apparently not at the top of the ballot, but a little further down. The fact that the Castle Park Five seem to be taking over Chula Vista Educators is apparently a sore spot with Peg. Peg, her pal Robin Donlan and three other teachers were transferred out of Castle Park Elementary after this blogger filed suit against Robin Donlan and others for criminal actions at the school. The Chula Vista Elementary School District defended the guilty teachers, but then grew frustrated with their continued trouble making.

Here's the email I sent her six days ago, with a request that she forward it to Stephenie Parker-Pettit:

Hi Stephenie:

...I've been wondering for months what the big secret is that Peg Myers doesn't want revealed about last May's CVE elections. Recently a reliable source told me something that might explain it. The source says that you are an area director. It's just as well that CVE has dropped the pretense of being an open organization. Ironically, in this case it's the more honest way to proceed. It's more dignified to drop the charade.

I will be writing about events as I learn about them, and that may include you, so I'm writing to let you know that I will be happy to publish anything you want regarding your role in CVE. You can send me an email, or you can comment on my blog.

Enjoy your summer.

Maura Larkins

I sent a copy of the above email to Peg and asked her to forward it to Stephenie Parker-Pettit. Stephenie told me on the phone this morning that Peg never forwarded it to her. Maybe they talked about it on the phone. I'm sure Peg wouldn't keep a secret like this from Stephenie. She might hide such secrets during a deposition, but not from her fellow "Castle Park Five" teacher. I also sent a copy of the email to an email address of Stephenie. Stephenie said she couldn't talk because she was teaching. She didn't show any curiosity about the email, so I'm guessing she's read it.

More evidence that it was CTA that complained to Google:
Google also visited this article about former SCTU director Mary Kay Rosinski, who directed the cover-up of criminal actions at Castle Park School. On the other hand, Google also visited this article about San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE).

Help Wanted: Leader to Promote a Culture of Learning

The issue that concerns me most, and that is my greatest motivation for writing my blogs, is teacher culture. In over two decades of teaching I saw that many teachers were more interested in being thought of as good teachers than in actually being good teachers. The most powerful teachers weren't in a learning mode. They were in a political mode, fighting for influence, trying to force other teachers to be like them, jumping on bandwagons to appear as if they were open to new ideas. And they refused to learn anything from anybody outside their cliques.

Help Wanted: Leader to Promote a Culture of Learning

By Kirsten Olson
Teacher Magazine
July 1, 2009

If you were asked about the learning culture of your school, how would you respond to the following questions:

• Is it a place that welcomes innovation and contributions about teaching and learning from everyone in the building?

• Do people talk about teaching, and can you rely on in-house discussions with colleagues to explore...

Are teachers wounding kids?

Are Schools Wounding Kids?
By Kathie Marshall
The Teacher Magazine
July 29, 2009

...Throughout the year, there was this constant tension between what I was supposed to be doing with students and what I was actually doing.

And what was I supposed to be doing? To me, hand-in-hand with the goal of improving reading was the equally important goal of providing my at-risk students with positive learning experiences. Many were already beaten down and convinced they were losers. Bringing some fun and win-win into the classroom equation would help them, however cautiously, to try once more. Was this not important, too?

Teacher-consultant Bill Page defines at-risk students as “Children who are expected to fail because teachers cannot motivate, control, teach, or interest them using traditional methods and prescribed curriculum.” ...

To shine a light on these issues, one day I had my kids sit in a large circle. One child at a time answered the question, “When did you turn off to school?” In my years as literacy coach, I met privately with intervention students who had the lowest grade point averages, and they always had an answer to this question. Most often they turned off in 3rd or 6th grade, when they realized they were struggling and others around them seemingly were not.

Interestingly, seven of my 7th graders this year had turned off to school in the 2nd grade, when they were part of a district experiment that retained the lowest performers. They still had not forgotten what it felt like to be left behind as their friends moved on...

‘Teachers’ Little Comments’

Recently, I came across Kirsten Olson’s new book, Wounded by School. I immediately devoured it and found more insights into the world of at-risk students.

Olson explains that her book began “with a desire to understand the experiences of highly capable learners, virtuoso explorers who showed unusual vitality in learning.” But she was “quickly diverted by the repeated and powerful descriptions among my research subjects of educational wounding and laceration in school.”

As I read this, I immediately saw an image of myself as a 6th grader. I was walking back to class after recess, and for perhaps the fifth day in a row I asked my teacher, “Can I go to the nurse? I have a headache.” “What’s wrong with you?” shouted Mr. Wright. “Why do you always have a headache?!” It was another 15 years before my migraines were diagnosed. I warily hid my headaches from others after my teacher taught me to believe something was wrong with me as a person.

Wounded by School delineates a dozen different types of school wounding and their effects, including:

• Feeling you aren’t smart and your ideas lack value.
• Feeling you don’t have what it takes to be successful in school.
• Feeling ashamed of your efforts.
• Suffering a loss of ambition, self-discipline, and persistence when faced with obstacles.

In a section called “wounds of rebellion,” I found my intervention kids and their defensive symptoms:

• The only way to protect yourself is to rebel.
• In response to being unsuccessful or told we are unworthy, we become hostile.
• We are unwilling to see another point of view.
• We act out, as an adaptive response and it becomes fixed, maladaptive, and self-destructive.

Olson quotes one student, who remembers a crushing moment in 7th grade that led him to declare, “I quit! I just really quit!”

The student saw himself as a screw-up: “Basically I became motivated to not do well—like what I could do well was not to do well. ... Kids that struggle are so much more sensitive to moments—especially bad ones. These moments shape their whole lives, their sense of themselves. Teachers’ little comments had a huge effect on me.”

...In an essay about three strengths of his, one of my students wrote: “I am good at three things. I can draw (graffiti), I like to be bad, and I get in trouble a lot.”

Olson’s book is not directed only at struggling students. Her research clearly shows that all students are vulnerable to school wounds...“Rather than making them more dutiful, more competent, and more disciplined, they grew weary of school and learning … risk averse, overly intimidated by authority, or likely to underestimate themselves … simply deadened—less enlivened by the world and its possibilities than they might be.”

See Also
Help Wanted: Leader to Promote a Culture of Learning
By Kirsten Olson

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stanford University turns out to be as clique-ish as any teachers lounge

The most amazing part of this story is that Stanford college graduate students actually told their professor that they didn't want to sit next to a certain person!

This story sounds like it might have taken place in a high school cafeteria or teachers lounge: places where conformity to group-think is frequently required. I'm sorry to disappoint anyone who thought universities were places where everyone was genuinely interested in divergent points of view. It turns out that even though academics might process information a bit faster than the average Joe, when it comes to personal politics, they're sometimes as bad as--or worse than-- the mean girls in high school.

I think it's quite likely that Michele Kerr might be wrong in many of her beliefs, but why do other students want to stop the discussion? They should articulate why she's wrong. Also, they could learn something if they seriously considered what she's saying. There are probably gems of truth in her diatribes. Don't throw the baby--free expression and open mindedness--out with the rant water. Kathy Marshall is someone who is expressing opposition to Michele's beliefs. Stanford students should step up to the plate and defend their beliefs, not relying on the power of their clique to do it for them.


They Messed With the Wrong Blogger

By Jay Matthews
Washington Post
July 24, 2009

...[Stanford student Michele Kerr sent an email] to her classmates after the program’s director, Rachel Lotan, said some of her fellow teacher trainees found her “domineering and intimidating” and didn’t want to sit next to her in class.

“For those of you who wish to continue requesting that you not sit with me in practicum, make sure you mention the reason so that Rachel can build her case for the next time we do our little dance. ‘Rachel, I do not want to sit next to Michele in practicum. It has nothing to do with her views; she’s just a domineering, overbearing bitch.’ DOB. We could print up cards or something. Don’t Sit Me Next to the DOB!” she wrote. “I’ll continue being me, and those of you who feel uncomfortable can maybe learn how to speak up. Or not. Your call.”

Lotan and Eamonn K. Callan, the education school’s dean for student affairs... said the email “could have the effect of silencing those who are wary of confronting” Kerr and that she “had not considered that her actions could have a chilling effect on other students, according to an email they sent to Kerr...

She was almost 46, much older than most other STEP program admittees. Single, with a son in college, she had a long career as a business process management consultant, but began to tutor high school students struggling with difficult courses and standardized tests. She found she was good at it. Why not teach full time?

She was pleased that a program as prestigious as Stanford’s had room for her...At the open house, a STEP instructor asked if she planned to accept the offer of admission. Anyone else would have said yes. But Kerr, who calls herself “fatally truthful,” said the tuition would be difficult to afford and admitted she was philosophically out of sync with the program...According to Kerr, Lotan looked for legal grounds to keep Kerr out, something Kerr said she discovered when another official mistakenly sent her an email that was meant just for Lotan...

The senior university counsel answered, saying Kerr would start the program in June...


But in September, Kerr’s blog, “Surviving Stanford,” which she had routinely referred to in her STEP classes, became an issue...

STEP’s displeasure was so great that Kerr finally took down the blog temporarily, renamed it, eliminated all references to Stanford, and gave it password protection so that only she and a few friends could read it.

That wasn’t enough for the STEP folk. Two months later, Lotan wrote that she was concerned that Kerr was “unsuited for the practice of teaching,” beginning a process that could have ended in Kerr being denied a teaching credential. Lotan complained that Kerr was late to some Stanford classes, and in turning in assignments.

Kerr learned to her dismay that a student could be denied a credential for any reason--even those that have nothing to do with teaching. Kerr’s supervisor told her in late November, without warning, that he was unhappy with her work and gave her low ratings in professionalism, she said. According to Kerr, he said she had lied to him, and made it clear her chances of getting through the program successfully were in jeopardy.

Kerr fought back, demanding proof of the charges. Kerr said the supervisor withdrew the accusation of lying. Lotan admitted that she had no idea if other STEP students were similarly tardy or why some didn’t want to sit next to Kerr...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cheryl Cox's culture of childishness damaged CVESD and the City of Chula Vista

A surprised Mayor Cox was aghast to hear herself addressed by a member of the public as “Your Fatness” at one particularly heated meeting. “What does that tell you about how some people deal with what we’re facing here?” she says. “Somebody has to be the adult here.” from San Diego News Network July 14, 2009

It sounds like friends of yours, Cheryl.

Like your pals at San Diego County Office of Education. ("280 pounds"?!)

It sounds like the jaw-dropping childishness that you encouraged, or rather required, at Castle Park Elementary School.

It sounds like you, Cheryl. Firing your city manager for looking at racy pictures during his breaks? When the city is falling apart at the seams? Get your priorities straight, Cheryl.

And firing Mike Najera: In early May, Cox moved to force Chula Vista Port Commissioner Mike Najera’s resignation from the board that controls the bayfront acreage. Najera, she said, hadn’t done enough to get the project off the ground. Najera saw the move as payback for a fund-raiser he had hosted for Steve Castaneda, a political challenger of Cox. She denied the accusation.

Instead of blaming others for problems, Cheryl, why don't you act like a adult and take responsibility for making things better?

Note to writer Cathy Clark: Cheryl Cox was a teacher for two years. That doesn't seem to me to qualify her as a "longtime teacher".

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chula Vista Educators website appears to be abandoned

About a year and a half ago Chula Vista Educators started a website. I was impressed, and waited for a new era of openness from CVE, thinking such an attitude change was better late than never. However, very little information was ever posted. The recent election was never announced, nor were the candidates and issues discussed. It was not clear at all what the purpose of the website was.

CVE president Peg Myers just doesn't seem to know how to function in an open environment. She has been loath to post the results of the election that was finished on May 20, 2009. In fact, nothing at all has been posted since March.

But who knows? One of these days maybe Peg will update the outdated list of officers on the home page.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Juan Vargas in South Bay--I don't want to see him, hear him or smell him.

I've been completely disgusted with Juan Vargas since he left his seat on a California legislative insurance committee to take a cushy job at--what else?--an insurance company. The guy smells like corruption incarnate.

The only good thing about his running would be the pleasure of seeing Mary Salas clean his clock.

Juan Vargas Coming Back?
Posted by BlueSanDiego
South Bay
March 16th, 2009

The Legislator of the Year honoree for this year’s Roosevelt Dinner is Mary Salas, the only announced candidate for this seat. Mary Salas replaced Juan Vargas when he termed out and went on to become much more popular with local Democrats within the party than Vargas was.

Vargas has a tough road ahead of him if he has his eyes on this seat. He has been out of office for a while and has to contend with running against a candidate that is loved by the local establishment.

South Bay continues to get more and more interesting by the week. Four big races in South Bay are keeping local party leaders busy: (1) David Alvarez versus B.D. Howard in SD City Council D8, (2) Ben Hueso versus Pearl Quinones in State Assembly District 79, (3) Humberto Peraza versus Jill Galvez for Chula Vista City Council and now possibly Juan Vargas lining up to compete against Mary Salas for the State Senate District 40 seat.

State Senator Denise Ducheny in 2012 for San Diego County supervisor?

Ducheny Vs. Cox in 2012

Posted by BlueSanDiego
July 10, 2009

The 2010 elections for the Board of Supervisors are already taking shape but I believe that we won’t be able to win the D4 seat (Ron Roberts) since we can’t even come up with a consensus candidate to take on Roberts in 2010. The district is nearly the size of a congressional district.

Sheila (sic)* Jackson has low name ID and limited legislative experience. Lori Saldana seems more interested in running for State Senate in 2012. You know how it is with politicians, send them to Sacramento and you have to send them home kicking and screaming when term limits send them packing. Saldana clearly doesn’t have the desire to serve as a supervisor. Donna Frye doesn’t seem to know what she wants at all. Some days she will say she is seriously considering it then other days she will seem lost in a daze and unsure of her future.

June 2010 is less than 11 months away. Neither of the three have mounted a serious fundraising effort and it might just be too late if all three are going to stay in the race.

That shifts our attention to 2012 which might be realistically the first time we can get a Democrat elected to the Board of Supervisor in years. Word on the street is that labor is actively courting termed out State Senator Denise Ducheny to run against Greg Cox in 2012. Ducheny has good name ID and a thick rolodex from her years in Sacramento. It also helps that her 40th State Senate district is nearly identical to the Board of Supervisor District 5 boundaries.

It will become more clear if Ducheny intends to run for the Board of Supervisor if she begins going all out for staffer David Alvarez who is running for SD City Council D8. D8 makes up nearly 1/3rd of the Board of Supervisors 5th District. It would be a big boost for Ducheny to have one of her own supporting her in 2012 just in case she faces opposition from Juan Vargas or Mary Salas if either one of them loses the 2010 State Senate race to replace her and decides to take a shot for the Board of Supervisors seat in 2012.

However it might just be a Ducheny 2012 race. If Cheryl Cox loses her bid for re-election for Mayor of Chula Vista, I could imagine Greg Cox wanting to forgo a potentially touch re-election fight in 2012 and simply retire in peace with his wife and enjoy plenty of rounds of golf at the San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista. Only time will tell.

*Maura Larkins' comment: It took me years to realize that it's Shelia Jackson, not Sheila. I made the same spelling mistake more times than I wish to remember.