UPDATE: Belmont Shore Parents Fed Up Over Teacher Upheaval

A group led by mothers of Long Beach Unified students mount a protest Monday morning as teacher layoff hearings continue at Wilson High.

Updated with photos of the protest, a link to a KTLA video and a clarification on the number of days the hearings have been going on.

Their exasperation mounting, a group of Belmont Shore and Belmont Heights parents have been meeting and texting for weeks about the state budget impasse and where it leaves their kids.

Long Beach Unified, the state's third largest district, had cut $170 million during the past few years under the last governor. It has said it's now facing another $155 million in cuts this year if the new governor's budget isn't passed. With 86,000 students and 8,000 employees, Long Beach Unified will feel the state's budget choke in daily life. Teachers make up the majority of the city's largest workforce of 8,000 LBUSD employees.

Not necessarily longtime collaborators in the trenches, the parents say they have found themselves joined in fury and frustration with how to voice what they want out of elected leaders. As individuals they have attended school board meetings, their city council forums, and PTA meetings all school year. But still there is the question of how to do anything that matters and reach those who would impact their children’s future.

In their first strike, the group launched an e-mail and Facebook effort early Sunday to rally their anger in a show of support happening right in their neighborhood: the fifth day of teacher layoff hearings. More than 1,200 layoff notices have been sent by LBUSD, which has been forced into devastating cuts that have already added more students per classroom at every grade level.

This letter was sent to Patch.com:


This is an urgent message for all of you in Long Beach who care about our children, our schools and our teachers. We are at a crossroads. We are going to lose many, many teachers due to budget woes, poor planning, a lack of forethought, and just plain madness!! We are not going to take this sitting down. We are getting up Monday morning April 11th and marching over to Wilson High School to protest the layoffs of some of our most talented and amazing teachers.

We are bringing our children, our frustration, our handmade signs, and our attitude! We want to show the union, the district, California lawmakers, and the teachers that we do not agree with the decisions that are being made. We are not going to let the people who work every day to give our children the education they deserve fight alone for their future in their chosen profession. We stand with them, and we will not stand quietly aside as they are laid off by the hundreds with little more than an unemployment packet as thanks for all of their years of service.

Join us!

  • We will meet between 8 am and 8:15 by the Recreation Park Community Center parking lot (near Park and 7th street).  Bring signs and wear mourning/black clothes if you like.
  • We will march to Wilson where the layoff hearings are being held to show our support to the teachers and our frustration and anger to the powers that be.
  • Come with us; let’s show our children that they and their education are worth fighting for!

Families, parents, neighbors, grandparents, the more people, the more power! Please forward to any concerned parents on your email list, thanks.

Questions or comments or to find us Monday morning: Kimberely (714)396-0391 call or text, email kbeeli@verizon.net; or Jacqui (562)212-1852, email vialegirl@charter.net

Belmont Park April 11, 2011 at 02:56 PM
Parents not only need to look to Sacramento but to the Federal government's disastrous Department of Education. This problem goes WAY beyond the local level which is EXACTLY where it should be. The States and School Districts need to be given back control of Education, not the politicians in Washington. That means Barbara Boxer, haven't heard a peep from her since re-elected, unfortunately. Lastly, parents should be picketing the steps of the teachers' Union and their 2 year tenure deal! We're not screaming loud enough and time to scream in the right direction!
Squigglemom, Trish Tsoi-A-Sue April 11, 2011 at 03:28 PM
Many parents who really want to support public schools are being forced to look towards private solutions if they want their children to have quality educations! This is a frightening thing that is happening to our school systems! If we want to remain competitive as a country, we MUST invest in our children! If you look at the countries that are competitive today, strong schools - all the way through to the university level - are what enables them to be competitive.
Linda April 11, 2011 at 05:52 PM
How many of you are willing to pay more taxes? Working to help the Governor on the revenue side seems a lot more productive than marching on a high school.
Nancy Woo April 11, 2011 at 06:12 PM
Handmade Penguin, you are exactly right. There was a PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) policy paper just recently released after December 2010 that outlines the four major differences between the U.S. education system and those of highest-performing countries (Japan, Korea, Canada, China) and guess what is the first major point and highest recommendation? "Some things high-performing education systems are doing differently than the U.S. 1. The teaching profession in the U.S. does not have the same high status as it once did, nor does it compare with the status teachers enjoy in the world’s best-performing economies. " The rest of the report is accessible and interesting as well. This New York Times article, which is also very good, has a link to view it: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/education/16teachers.html I think much of the education issue has to do with unwise expenditure, not following or keeping track of funds, and not making the link to students that education is not "free," even though they're not always the ones paying for it. Although I believe incentives are not always economic, and education should be available to those who desire it, "free" education is truly a myth and needs to be addressed as such. (con...)
Nancy Woo April 11, 2011 at 06:16 PM
I was speaking with a former community college teacher the other day and he pointed out that community college kids, who ditch class and fail semester after semester, are unaware that they are not just throwing their own education away, but wasting the taxpayers' money. The link between education and learning, just as much between education and economics, needs to be strengthened because I see the word "education" starting to lose its meaning and grow into a convoluted ghost. The worst thing that can happen to the next generation is, because of disillusionment towards politics and education, they vow to reject standards of learning. However, I am personally fond of silver linings and I think the crash of the education system is going to produce some very innovative solutions. That is what happens when the s*** hits the fan, isn't it?
Jacqui Viale April 11, 2011 at 07:49 PM
I voted yes on the parcel tax that didn't pass, and I would vote yes again to extend our taxes to keep funding education--if the voters even get the chance to vote. If we don't fund education now, I think we are digging an even deeper hole for our economy. Without trained workers for the digital age, California and the US will be left behind in world growth and development. It is a dark path to go down. We were demonstrating to show support for our kids' teachers who are losing their jobs and to tell the Teachers' Union and LBUSD that they need to start looking to more forward thinking solutions. We were using our constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech and I think it was a valuable lesson for the adults and kids who participated.
Francis April 11, 2011 at 11:32 PM
Illegal Immigrants have been feeding off the US taxpayers in volume for the past thirty years and the cost is spiraling beyond limits. We are busted broke fighting two wars and sustaining the world’s poor. The media are talking about courts being overwhelmed by immigration cases. Thousands of illegal people would not be cramming the court calendar, if there was any intent to construct the real border fence and station 5000 troops along its length, aided by the undermanned US border agents. For interior enforcement E-verify must be permanently implemented, with its associated police tool secure communities and the 287 g provision. We must eradicate all Sanctuary Cities and recall activist judges in federal and appeals court, such as the 9th Circuit. If you are adamantly obligated to reducing the 14 Trillion dollars US treasury deficit, press all Liberal, Democrats, and Republicans to halt the parody to our immigration laws. Each year and climbing over a hundred billion dollars is being drained in federal entitlements to subsidize free health care, education and the overcrowded prisons.
Belmont Park April 11, 2011 at 11:50 PM
Money is NOT the solution and I for one do not want to be paying any more taxes and have it misappropriated. California is at the top of $$ per student and our students still rank at that bottom all the way from p.e. to math. The private sector operates at a much lower ratio and perform far better. Case in point, our 8th grade child recently took a placement exam at a Catholic High School, the overall grade equivalent score came back at 7th grade! This from a consistent all "A", one "B", AP state test performer. The explanation: the private school test shows that our child is performing at the top of what is expected and that the bar is not set very high!! . MORE MONEY IS NOT THE ANSWER AND CERTAINLY NOT FROM THE TAXPAYERS!!
Jacqui Viale April 12, 2011 at 12:46 AM
I actually agree that money is not the answer. We need to develop better methods for allocation and spending, and teacher evaluation and retention. That is my mantra right now. But I am sorry I don't know where you are getting your information about per pupil spending. According to everything I have read California ranks near the bottom in the nation--from the NY Times " 47-- California’s national rank in spending per pupil, K-12, in 2009. The state average is $7,571 per pupil — $2,400 below the national average!" And your child's situation is exactly why I am worried about retaining our best teachers and creating a system where the best are rewarded and the worst are weeded out. We cannot afford to continue running our public school systems as though the teachers are sweat shop factory workers, and the students are cattle to be herded through.
Panglonymous April 12, 2011 at 01:12 AM
"However, I am personally fond of silver linings and I think the crash of the education system is going to produce some very innovative solutions. That is what happens when the s*** hits the fan, isn't it?" One of the things. ;-) What's something visible on the horizon right now that's particularly encouraging to you?
Nancy Woo April 12, 2011 at 01:49 AM
Well, to be admittedly general about it, I think it's about time that the U.S. education system see some reforms, and rethink an outdated system. In the 1970s, I believe, higher education was virtually free, and the system that was put in place then has now become overstressed. I think the premise that that system was built on (everyone should receive an education) is solid, but the methods of implementation have not taken into account a rapidly growing population, changing technologies and changing social structures. It's time for something new to be enacted. For example, standardized testing, No Child Left Behind, huge classrooms, overworked teachers has produced a rejection of the institution rather than an adherence to it from students. And like I mentioned, though I'm no expert, I think funds have been used carelessly. Now that it's crunch time, people will be thoughtfully evaluating what needs to be funded and what doesn't work. Instead of rolling along listlessly, I see much more involvement on the parts of students, teachers and parents; when something important is threatened, that is when you will really appreciate it. (con...)
Nancy Woo April 12, 2011 at 02:01 AM
For example, people are caring enough to do things like protest in front of Wilson, bringing their kids with them. Rather than learn about social issues sitting in a classroom, these children in the pictures are getting hands on experience with the world and the government. And probably learning to appreciate having an education at all. As a recently graduated college student, I have 18 years of recent experience in the public school system, and with those 18 years come many complaints ;) Not enough hands-on experience is one of them; more room for creativity, more connection in science and math to the real world, teaching of finances, etc., I could go on. A few of my friends and I are composing a draft education proposal for reform. And we're small fries, but the ideas sweeping the nation about how to improve upon the system is what is inspiring to me. I'm no economist but I know the first step to improving anything is addressing it first. The cracks have been revealed, and are now being rebuilt. Here are two very good documentaries about the current education crisis: http://www.racetonowhere.com/ http://www.waitingforsuperman.com/action/ Basically, instead of letting the system fail, I think people are becoming more involved in helping it say afloat and with new ideas, ideas that may be emerging mostly because of the sink or swim mentality. And we who take part in the system are being forced to understand it better, be more involved and think more creatively
Panglonymous April 12, 2011 at 02:49 AM
Thanks, Nancy, that's helpful. I see there's a screening of Race To Nowhere at Stanford Middle School in mid May, about $12. Looks worth checking out. Valuing teachers highly seems a good start. I saw a documentary recently that tried to demonstrate the advantages of fully embracing technology in the classroom, playing to the tendencies/abilities that the common technologies are already developing in kids in social and recreational settings, working commonly on projects in physical and networked groups, learning by doing/interacting rather than reading, etc. The kids interviewed were digging it, the teachers were excited, but it came off a bit empty and promotional to my eye and ear. If this does work, it must be difficult to demonstrate, easier to understand by participating, maybe. Or maybe it's just me. Or maybe it *doesn't* work. Imagining the value of something very foreign to you requires that you remain open and skeptical simultaneously. A tall order.
Panglonymous April 12, 2011 at 03:20 AM
"We were using our constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech and I think it was a valuable lesson for the adults and kids who participated." Bravo. Any comments the kids made that you can share? It was a "mediated" event. Did it still feel genuine?
Simpleton April 12, 2011 at 04:20 AM
Uhmm, the LBUSD 2010-11 budget had appropriations of $931MM for 85,257 students. That works out to almost $11K per student, and doesn't include all the bureaucratic overhead larded on in Sacramento. No idea where the NY Times got their made-up numbers but they aren't close to being accurate.
Jacqui Viale April 12, 2011 at 06:03 PM
I believe the NY Times numbers refer specifically to California State Budget allocations. The most recent data I could gather for computation showed that last school year California budgeted $43 billion for 6 million students. That does indeed work out to about $7k per pupil. If LBUSD is spending $11K per pupil (I have no data in front of me) then I guess we are lucky that they defer all their funding to students, and are able to get grants and other sources of funds. I found my numbers on DataQuest website and CA Dept. of Ed websites. Regardless of the numbers, we need to do a better job being creative with resources and teacher contract terms. The budget will go up and down over the years, though there is probably a minimum threshold of viability for an urban school district, so we have to adapt.
K April 12, 2011 at 08:45 PM
Bottom Line: Do you want to pay public teachers or not? If you do, and you aren't happy with the education provided by public school teachers, get active! Participate in your child's education. Punishing teachers will not help students. Kids who are in public schools right now will not benefit from parents haranguing public school teachers who are in place right now. It is not the teachers who are to blame. They are subject to a bureaucratic system beyond their control. I believe that many parents don't understand the public education system when they complain. Don't target teachers, who submit their wits and intelligence to federal standards. Creativity and passion are not rewarded by the federal or state systems. Good teachers are passionate and competent. When we use merely test scores to analyze teacher competency, we only reveal little robots, akin to standardized, manufactured brains. Where is America without creativity and innovation? Where is entrepreneurship? Where are the new ideas? Without them, we are dead as a nation. We can regulate and standardize public education, but I find that impulse ironically contrary to the right-leaning impulse for freedom, innovation and prosperity for our nation. Eliminate funding for public education? This is the equivalent to killing creativity and innovation in potential American generations.
Panglonymous April 13, 2011 at 08:14 PM
To Nancy and anyone else who might like to address the questions: Will "Media Literacy" ever be a required class taught universally in the public schools from early on? Is it important enough to be taught year around, as a sub-topic of English, say, K-12? As parents, do you think that your kids are efficient multitaskers? Are they able to shift attention between multiple subjects and focus effectively on each in an ongoing rapid succession? Do they make associations easily, express themselves in simile and metaphor as a matter of course? Does their thinking seem more piecemeal, or holistic? I have no background in any of this, just an intense curiousity about how the generations are (and will be) developing into the future.
Concerned LB Mom April 15, 2011 at 05:27 AM
The problems are complex, indeed. "K" I do want to pay the teachers--and pay them well. But not in this current cookie cutter approach, where all are paid equally, despite clear differences in quality and effectiveness. I am in complete agreement with Viale: "We need to develop better methods for allocation and spending, and teacher evaluation and retention." Two issues stand out within our current system: 1) The union-protected teachers who have lost their luster or care (if they ever had it) for their profession. How to measure performance, I know, is a tremendous challenge. But these teachers exist and we know it. They cost us millions and, as is the current case in my kids' elementary school, the chance for motivated, excellent teachers to stay put! They are often the mean, dismissive, unmotivated in approach, and cranky ones that we all pray our kids won't get. Perhaps some need retraining, others should just be booted. I have been a die-hard proponent of unions my whole life. However, teacher's unions have better start rethinking their approach to contracts, because many of us are losing our religion, so-to-speak. Great teachers can overcome any swing in the educational policy pendulum. These should be paid VERY WELL and sought after at top dollar out of college. All should receive ongoing support and training to keep them motivated and fresh in their approach to deliver WHATEVER the powers dictate. #2... 2) the parents--yes us! to be continued...
Concerned LB Mom April 15, 2011 at 05:59 AM
Not all parents! But far too many are not involved in their schools, over-committed (both themselves and their children), and plugging their kids into computers and computer games (the new boob tubes) at younger ages and far too long. Many of the kids I see (from GATE to regular classrooms) are either unable to focus for long or tired (likely from crashing). We also over-emphasize competition (teachers, too!) at home--just spend five minutes in the Friday Night Lights field and you'll know what I mean. My son LOVES sports, but at 8 he wished there weren't points involved--the parents KILL the joy with their overzealous need for victory--these are 2nd graders for crying out loud! I hear it only gets worse. But I digress. The point is that far too many kids have little appreciation for the process of learning and self-improvement and just want to know what they will get at the end--in Friday Night Lights, it's 2 trophies instead of one. SO WHAT! If more of us spend even a little bit of time actively involved in our schools, filling the gaps at home (art, culture, history, etc.), and freeing up our heavy schedules (turning off our computers and cell phones) to spend quality time with our kids--even if it's doing the endless worksheets together--if we model good attitudes and consistency our kids will be alright. Again, I acknowledge the problems are tremendously complex and, as a result, require complex solutions. But it all starts at home and inside of the classrooms.
Concerned LB Mom April 15, 2011 at 06:15 AM
Panglonymous: Will "Media Literacy" ever be a required class taught universally in the public schools from early on? Is it important enough to be taught year around, as a sub-topic of English, say, K-12?" My answer: I hope NOT, or at least not in elementary school. A kid can become a consumer of computer applications at any time. The real brain work is not in reading sound bites from one window or another, but in writing the code--right? You can't do that without a solid foundation in reading, writing, and mathematics. Someone once joked that her daughter can beat my daughter at a popular video game (a joke because our daughter reads voraciously at 8 and has very little experience with video games since we have none at home). My response: Give her five minutes.
Panglonymous April 15, 2011 at 01:25 PM
Hi, LB Concerned Mom Here's an opportunity to demonstrate what I meant, in a small, imperfect way. Wikipedia is a widely-used reference on the web, often used authoritatively. I'm semi-informed about its nature, its strengths and weaknesses. In responding to you, I could immediately link you to its "media literacy" entry. Or I could wrestle with my own sense of the term's meaning and express that as well as possible. Or both. As it happens, I did the second thing first, and then checked the Wikipedia entry. Look at how they compare. Me: The tactics of influence and persuasion. Misrepresentation for the sake of dramatic effect. False premises. Sophistry. Sounds like self-defense, advanced B.S. detection, eh? Anti-PR/Marketing, maybe. It could be taught objectively, I suppose: these are the tools, just be aware they're double-edged. Wikipedia: Media (or Cine) literacy is a repertoire of competences that enable people to analyze, evaluate, and create messages in a wide variety of media modes, genres, and forms. Education for media literacy often uses an inquiry-based pedagogic model that encourages people to ask questions about what they watch, hear, and read. Media literacy education provides tools to help people critically analyze messages, offers opportunities for learners to broaden their experience of media, and helps them develop creative skills in making their own media messages.[1]... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_literacy
Panglonymous April 15, 2011 at 01:26 PM
If I was embarassed about how badly I misunderstood the term compared to the authoritative version, I might omit my version and defer to the authority. maybe Maybe MAYBE this demonstrates some degree of media literacy on my part, or maybe not. But wouldn't you like to have access to a reporter's notes to compare to their multiply-edited (mediated) final version? I love that kind of privilege. It's hard to come by. Locally, the LBReport.com site does a great service by providing the complete raw video of press conferences and the like. It's fascinating to compare the raw and the cooked - but it takes a lot more time...
Panglonymous April 15, 2011 at 01:27 PM
Now. Do you trust me? If so, why, if not, why not. ;-)
John B. Greet April 15, 2011 at 02:53 PM
One of the best and longest term solutions to this challenge is to pass a reasonable, effective and equitable school choice initiative. Part of the reason our schools are struggling financially is because they are woefully overcrowded. Our schools are overcrowded because many parents cannot afford to explore other educational options for their children. A reasonable, effective and equitable school choice initiative could help to address that part of the challenge.
Concerned LB Mom April 15, 2011 at 03:37 PM
Panglonymous, I get it. Using technoglogy as tools to teach critical thinking. My answer is still NOT in elementary school. Of course media literacy becomes important in middle school, and definitely in high school, where developmentally kids are testing their own perceptions and conclusions about the world around them, and they've had the chance to develop a solid foundation in the fundamentals. In my opinion, kids still need good old fashion print media in the elementary years--BOOKS, newspapers, and more books to avoid the tendancy to learn by soundbites and via misinformed websites.
Panglonymous April 15, 2011 at 04:54 PM
LB Mom What do you think of the quote, “Give me the child until he is seven and I’ll give you the man”?
Panglonymous April 15, 2011 at 04:55 PM
John just might be demonstrating ideological boilerplate, inculcation, message discipline. Or he might just really like that paragraph.
Panglonymous April 18, 2011 at 06:27 PM
Interesting take: "Is the MBA the Degree for Slackers? -- A controversial story claiming that business has become the default major for undergraduate slackers is gaining some resonance with MBA graduates and B-school profs who say there are similar problems in graduate business education. "The story, 'The Default Major: Skating Through B-School,' is a collaboration between The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education. It reports that business majors spend less time preparing for class than do students in any other broad field. Quoting from a new book, 'Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses,' the article also claims that business majors had the weakest gains during the first two years of college on a national test of writing and reasoning skills..." http://poetsandquants.com/2011/04/17/is-the-mba-the-degree-for-slackers/


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