News

Las Lomitas district says it's working hard to diversify teaching staff

District reps promise more efforts to come

A standing-room-only group of close to 75 people filled up the meeting room of the Las Lomitas Elementary School District's governing board on April 13 to hear and talk about efforts to add more diversity to the district's teaching staff.

Superintendent Lisa Cesario and consultant Eugene Whitlock said the district has been working hard since the issue was first brought to its attention more than a year and half ago. Mr. Whitlock, who is the vice chancellor of human resources and general counsel for the San Mateo County Community College District, said the Las Lomitas district currently has nearly 15 percent minority teachers on its staff, up from less than 10 percent in the 2013-14 school year.

According to figures provided by the school to the California Department of Education on its EdData website, 38 percent of the district's students are minorities. The two-school kindergarten to eighth-grade district includes neighborhoods in the western part of Menlo Park and Atherton and small sections of Woodside, plus nearby unincorporated areas including Ladera.

In February, 177 parents signed a letter asking the district to do more. "We would like to see the educators and administrators who inspire, inform, enlighten and advocate for our children reflect the spectrum of diversity in our classrooms and community," the letter says.

David Williams, a parent of biracial children in the school district, said having his children grow up seeing people who are like them "is important to us."

"We need to find some way to measure how much we're willing to invest in finding a more diverse candidate pool," he said.

Julie Floyd, who has three children who she said have "excelled academically" in Las Lomitas schools, said the district needs to include all kinds of diversity. "Achieving minimum requirements is not enough," she said. "Let's strive for excellence for all."

Parents say the issue first surfaced when the district used materials that some parents felt were inappropriate while teaching students about bullying. Parents began asking the district to make efforts to recruit more diverse teachers to their staff.

Allison Virsik, who has four children in the school district, said parents were frustrated after bringing the issue to the district's attention. "We felt we were unable to collaborate or have a constructive conversation," she said.

Ms. Virsik said parents are "entreating the board to recognize the importance of this issue."

In January 2015 Mr. Whitlock prepared a report for the district, assuring it that its hiring and recruiting practices were legal, but also urging the district to take a number of steps to help recruit a more diverse teaching staff.

He said at the meeting that the district has put most of his recommendations into place, but that two of his suggestions have not yet been implemented.

The suggestions already being followed by the district include training in unconscious bias for interviewers, adding questions about experience in working with diverse groups to the list of interview questions, and recruiting more broadly. He said the district has reached out to professional associations of under-represented groups and tried to attend a broader array of job fairs.

What remains undone is adopting a "diversity statement" for the district and modifying the district's recruiting materials, he said.

Board members said they want the district to work on a diversity statement that would be in place by the time the district starts recruiting new teachers for the 2017-18 school year early in 2017.

Mr. Whitlock said such an effort, before being approved by board, should include the entire school community: students, faculty, parents and administration. "It's a longer process, but I think it's a process that everyone should participate in," he said. The process, he added, will need to start soon after school starts next fall in order to complete in time for recruiting the next year's teachers.

Mr. Whitlock said part of the problem is that California, and the nation as a whole, is suffering from a teacher shortage, as well as a shortage of minority teachers. Fewer people are studying to be teachers at a time when the demand for more teachers increases as schools work to reduce class sizes, he said.

Mr. Whitlock pointed out that in addition to the Las Lomitas district having improved its ratio of minority teachers this school year, the statistics used by the parents that showed the district previously had the lowest percentage of minority teachers of any local district were incorrect.

Parents mistakenly included the number of teachers in other districts who did not supply their race in the reported statistics as minority teachers. While the Las Lomitas district did not have any teachers who did not report their race, leaving its percentage at 9 percent, other districts' percentages were lower than the parents had shown.

The correct numbers for 2014-15, Mr. Whitlock said, are: Palo Alto Unified, 19 percent minority teachers; Los Altos, 18 percent; Menlo Park City, 15 percent; San Carlos, 13 percent; Portola Valley, 8 percent; and Woodside Elementary, 7 percent. Las Lomitas had 9 percent minority teachers in 2014-15.

The numbers are confirmed on the state's EdData.org website.

Comments

2 people like this
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 15, 2016 at 12:31 pm

What percentage of the student body @ Las Lomitas is considered "minority?"


6 people like this
Posted by Heather Hopkins
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Apr 15, 2016 at 12:35 pm

Downtowner,
38% of the district's students are nonwhite.


10 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 15, 2016 at 1:12 pm

The Almanac needs to work on its basic reporting skills and inform readers what communities Los Lomitas School District serves. An Internet search gave me the answer but one of the basic rules of journalism is to provide adequate background information to all readers those who are directly and indirectly effected by district decisions. This is not the first Almanac article where this lack of attention to detail has occurred.


45 people like this
Posted by fed up with pc-ism
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 15, 2016 at 1:23 pm

Heather, are you are referring to the district as a whole or just Las Lomitas? Also, who are you categorizing as non-white? I really doubt that the Las Lomitas district has 38% African American students. Here is the actual breakdown of students: White 66%; Asian 17%; Hispanic 10%; Two or more races 4%; Black 1%; Pacific Islander 1%; American Indian, Alaskan Native; 1%; Filipino 0%.

We have excellent results from our current teachers, so why change things, why rock the boat in the name of supposed diversity? This is nothing more than social manipulation by a group of self-righteous, "we know what's best for others,' people who want to impose their ideology on the rest of us.

If people want their children to see diversity, then arrange for them to meet other people; someone wants his children to be thought by teachers who are like themselves. It's a bit ridiculous to try to match teachers and students. Won't those non-white children benefit by diverse teachers unlike themselves--i.e. white teachers. (Oh the horror, the horror!)

If you want diversity, why are you living in a predominately affluent, white neighborhood? Too bad we don't have 'thumbs down' here; I'm sure I'd be knee deep in them.


21 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 15, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Fed Up with PC-ism, big thumbs up!


4 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 15, 2016 at 2:34 pm

To Fed-Up-With.....

Note it referred to 38% nonwhite, not African-American(?). And it's 34% according to the stats you provided.

Many of us live here as we've done for decades - we can't afford to move or choose to stay near family and friends. The area has obviously changed in that time. I'd love to move where there's more cultural diversity.


23 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 15, 2016 at 3:24 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

This is ridiculous. I do not care who teaches the kids, just excellent teachers.


18 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Apr 15, 2016 at 3:47 pm

Dear Fed up with PC-ism- wow, you really seem to not have a clear understanding of the reasons (which are many) why diversity in the classroom matters. I assume it might be of interest to you to know that kids from the most diverse colleges and universities are the most financially successful. Also, most of the kids in the LL school district will go on to MA which just happens to be one of the most diverse high schools in the country, but I am going to assume that your kids will not go there. I don't think 180 parents signed the document to let the district know this is of importance to them because they want to be PC, most of us are way too busy for that. People signed the document because we live in a multicultural world which is only getting more multicultural with each passing day. Most of us want our children to be as successful as they can be and that is not just about grades and test scores. We also want all of the kids in our school district to have role models that may help them go on to achieve their dreams. I would ask you to challenge your own biases against this initiative for the good of our district.


26 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 15, 2016 at 4:58 pm

It is illegal to hire someone on the basis of race, so I am curious what hoops the district will jump through to carry out the policy.


14 people like this
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 15, 2016 at 5:24 pm

<<Here is the actual breakdown of students: White 66%; Asian 17%; Hispanic 10%; Two or more races 4%; Black 1%; Pacific Islander 1%; American Indian, Alaskan Native; 1%; Filipino 0%.>>

It appears that there are increasing numbers of national groups claiming separate racial identities. :Asian: used to include Filipino. What percentage of Central & So.American Indian blood mixed with European Spanish makes Hispanic a separate race? I see differing cultural identities in many of these classifications but not race. When is one no longer American Indian? Will the Scandinavians claim to be of a different race than Scottish or Portuguese so that we start dividing previously-called Caucasians into sub-cultures? And Icelanders really are a separate race.

This is becoming as absurd as the child in Santa Clarita who was recently taken from her foster parents, who weren't allowed to adopt her, and sent to live with distant relatives-by-marriage-only because she is 1/64th (1.56%) Choctaw.

Diversity is a wonderful thing but isn't it discrimination if we don't to hire the best & most qualified teachers possible because the available pool doesn't include the racial or cultural identifications someone has decided makes up the student body? I don't care if my kids' teachers are purple, gay, physically disabled or natives of a Seychelle Island as long as they like kids & have teaching skills.

We'll have a healthier community when we stop enumerating the differences which separate us. Maybe after another 5-8 generations, we'll be sufficiently intermingled that everyone is brown & nobody can claim racial discrimination anymore.
..


3 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2016 at 6:03 pm

pearl is a registered user.

To Downtowner:

Thank you!

1955 Graduate of Las Lomitas School





28 people like this
Posted by Heather Hopkins
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Apr 15, 2016 at 6:03 pm

Downtowner,

If you were a purple student, and all of your teachers (a.k.a. school role models) were white, don't you think you would benefit from having an excellent purple teacher? If you were a white student and you were in the class of a dedicated, experienced, talented purple teacher, don't you think you would benefit from her (or his) different perspective having lived in the world as a purple person?

That may sound silly, but the truth is that educators widely accept that a high-quality, diverse teaching team results in a better education for all students, regardless of their background (check out the studies and articles below for a sampling of the vast research done on this subject). MPCSD, PAUSD and LLESD all stand behind this research. MPCSD and PAUSD's strategic plans both specifically state the value of a high-quality, diverse teaching team. Both the California and U.S. Departments of Education consistently speak to the importance of diversity in teaching teams as a matter of policy. The business world has made a direct link between diversity and profit. Higher education has long studied the benefits of diversity for college students.

The concern that schools would have to sacrifice quality to achieve diversity assumes candidates of color are less qualified than white candidates as a whole. However, the lack of diversity in candidate pools stems from not reaching candidates of diverse backgrounds rather than the lesser quality of their work. Once the candidate pool is sufficiently diversified (which takes ongoing, conscious, strategic effort), then of course schools should select the most qualified candidates from that pool. If qualified, nonwhite teachers are part of that candidate pool, then qualified nonwhite teachers have an opportunity to be chosen as the best candidate.

For information on the benefits of diversity on students:
The Century Foundation's "How Racially Diverse Schools and Classrooms Can Benefit All Students" Web Link

Scientific American's "How Diversity Makes Us Smarter: Being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent and harder-working" Web Link

The National Coalition on School Diversity's "How Non-Minority Students Also Benefit from Racially Diverse Schools" Web Link

The Atlantic's "Why Schools Need More Teachers of Colorâ€"for White Students: Nonwhite educators can offer new and valuable perspectives for children of all backgrounds Web Link

McKinsey&Company's "Why Diversity Matters" [in business] Web Link


24 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Apr 15, 2016 at 6:06 pm

Let me clear up some misperceptions about the parents' interest in this initiative. The parents are just asking the school board to do what every other comparable school has done in our area (Menlo Park School District, Menlo School, Palo Alto, Los Altos) to support diversity in the school district. That would be to add a statement of support for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the mission statement and to form a diversity/equity committee of teachers, parents, students, and administrators. The parents feel that those two things would help our district show a commitment to diversity that is important for many reasons, but it would also help attract potential fantastic teachers of color to our district who may otherwise head to one of the other districts who seem clearly more committed to diversity.

None of the parents have any interest in hiring teachers who are not absolutely as fantastic as the other teachers we already have in our district. We are hoping to attract even more wonderful teachers! This is really about doing better for our school district and our kids. period.


4 people like this
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 15, 2016 at 7:54 pm

I hope the search for teachers representing diverse cultures isn't going to be limited to those represented in the student body. Please, let's look for Pakistani, Jordanian, Sri Lankans, Tongan, Samoan, & Iranian teachers too. I'm not sure what races those are but it would certainly indicate LL is not limited by the existing ethnicities at the school & perhaps encourage a more diverse population to move into the district. We don't want to exclude anyone by controlling the types of "diversity" we find acceptable and limiting the search to Black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, etc.

If the LL pay scale is generous compared to neighboring districts, I don't think any teachers would be too inhibited to apply for openings. I say this as the parent of 2 teachers, so I know that one of the major topics for job-seeking teachers is salary. There are huge salary disparities among mid-Peninsula districts.


17 people like this
Posted by Mother in the District
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 15, 2016 at 11:03 pm

It is a huge distraction and disservice to be asking for non credentialed teachers to be teaching our students. We want the best teachers.Some of those complaining are the first parents to complain about a "bad" teacher.
The district is doing what they can to recruit minority teachers. We have a great group of teachers because we have a meritocracy. The school needs to hire the best teachers to teach academics, teach your kids about being decent people at home, church and in the community.


27 people like this
Posted by Heather Hopkins
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Apr 16, 2016 at 7:41 am

Mother in the District,

We're in total agreement: the district should not hire unqualified teachers without credentials. We should continue to hire the very best teachers who rise to the top of the candidate pool. Some of these teachers may be white, some may not.

There are many, many qualified candidates of color in our country and we're fortunate some of these professionals already teach in our district. Setting a goal for increased diversity simply means we believe it’s worth the effort to recruit non-white candidates that may not otherwise see our job postings. Our district clearly knows how to recruit, screen, hire and retain excellent teachers. Why would we assume they would make an exception to those standards once diversity enters the picture?

Our district has affirmed that diversity in the teaching team is important and improves the educational experience for all students, regardless of background. They have also indicated it is worth our time and resources to pursue candidates of color (see the article for details). I know our district leadership would welcome the opportunity to speak to you about these goals and why they are important.

The parents leading this initiative love our teaching team; most are active volunteers in the district and dedicate many hours a week to serving our teachers and schools. We're incredibly supportive of our teachers and are simply affirming what has been proven by over 10 years of research and supported by our district, county, state and nation's educational institutions: an excellent, diverse teaching team is worth pursuing.

A final point: any educator will tell you that a teacher's job is not only to shape the academic minds of our students, but also their hearts. These days, respecting net etiquette is one of the many ways our students are encouraged to be "decent people" (in your words). Posting anonymously to message boards with words one is not willing to put one's name behind and spreading mistruths about others' actions is not constructive nor respectable. Let's set a better example for our students.


30 people like this
Posted by Heather Hopkins
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Apr 16, 2016 at 8:12 am

For those who are interested, I wanted to provide background on the book that got this whole conversation started as well as some thoughts on the concept of ignoring race and differences as the way forward. The book (which was slated to be read at La Entrada) is called "If the World Were Blind...: A Book about Judgment and Prejudice." The book's message is that if we were literally blind, we would not see others' differences, only our similarities, and that would make the world a better place.

The intention behind this philosophy is well-meaning and may make sense to a lot of white people who believe "colorblindness" promotes racial harmony (the comment above that "we'll have a healthier community when we stop enumerating the differences which separate us" comes to mind). However, "colorblindness" does a disservice to those who legitimately experience racism by failing to acknowledge their differences, including the difference in the way the must walk through the world. (One of my favorite articles on this is "The Rules" Web Link in which an African American Princeton grad outlines the rules his children learned to follow in order to avoid being targeted because of others' conscious or unconscious bias. These include:
1. Never run while in the view of a police officer or security person unless it is apparent that you are jogging for exercise, because a cynical observer might think you are fleeing a crime or about to assault someone.
2. Always zip your backpack firmly closed or leave it in the car or with the cashier so that you will not be suspected of shoplifting.
3. When entering a small store of any type, immediately make friendly eye contact with the shopkeeper or cashier, smile, and say “good morning” or “good afternoon.”)

These days, educators teach children to learn about and celebrate the differences between us, not ignore them. In fact, colorblindness has been demoted to a new type of racism (see this Teaching Tolerance blog post Web Link). If you are white or have never experienced racism, this is very worth thinking about.

Back to the book "If the World Were Blind...: A Book about Judgment and Prejudice." Web Link Even the author agrees that this concept is outdated. I traded emails with her a while back and this is what she said: "This book - poem was written about 25 years ago and the book was published 15 years ago. We have learned a lot since then.Thank you for pointing out the progress we have made in our thinking..."

Food for thought.


63 people like this
Posted by Saddened
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Apr 16, 2016 at 11:21 pm

I agree with Mother in the District. No thinking parent disagrees with the goal of diversity in hiring. Nor does our school board, or district leadership. The problem with this manufactured controversy is not the goal (we all agree!). It is the means: A signature-gathering campaign, a loud and emotional protest at a school board meeting, and lengthy lectures on racism on this community forum and elsewhere. It's highly unfortunate that some members of our community are choosing divisive posturing and self-righteous rhetoric of the sort that increasingly characterizes our wider politics. Much of it screams "look at me, I am more enlightened than thou." I believe that our district is working diligently and in good faith to hire the best teachers, including by actively pursuing diversity. I have first-hand evidence of that in the amazing African-American, Asian-American, and white teachers who have taught my children while in the district. And no, it isn't their races that make them amazing. I am, frankly, saddened for our district. Saddened about what all this posturing says for our commitment to the shared goal of educational excellence. Saddened about what it says for our ability to talk to each other, and to formulate our mission without public shout-downs. Saddened about the distraction to our school board, who have already had to divert district funds that could have been spent on teachers and classrooms, in order to hire lawyers to defend its hiring practices in response to the petition. And saddened about the threat to our school's reputation in the wider region, which will inevitably impact our continued ability to recruit the best teachers. None of this is necessary, or good.


8 people like this
Posted by keep up the good work
a resident of La Entrada School
on Apr 17, 2016 at 9:45 am

So the district is now at 15% non-white teachers up from 9% a year ago? Nice bump.

Puts our schools at a comparable level to our peer schools who have task forces and diversity statements? Interesting.

Perhaps there's a higher ROI opp out there for our districts' limited time, energy & financial resources. Just sayin.'


25 people like this
Posted by Stella Bergan
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Apr 17, 2016 at 1:26 pm

As a parent in this district for 11 years and with 1/2 as many to go, I have seen many heated, controversial, and costly issues come and go in our district (including which math program is best, the cost/benefit of adding iPads to our curriculum, the value +/- of high and regular math in 4th and 5th grade just to name a few), and the one constant has been our school district's commitment to providing an excellent education for our children and our outstanding reputation. I have close friends on both sides of this issue and what saddens me is the name calling and false assumptions of the people who are behind this initiative. I can honestly vouch for the people behind the initiative including the parents who signed the petition (I would be one of those) that they are not a bunch of self-righteous, "we know better than everyone else", group of parents. I have also had lengthy, thoughtful conversations with my friends on the other side of this issue to try and understand their position as well which has helped me put aside my own biases. I would be more than happy to have a thoughtful conversation with anyone on this topic.

The initiative came about at the request of a school board member who told the 3-4 parents originally behind the initiative that "3-4 parents is not enough to get the attention of the board, you need to bring a larger number of parents before the board before they will consider the issue." So, just as the parents who petitioned to get the school district to take notice of the homework load in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade did, so did this group of parents.

I commend the board for having an open forum school board meeting to hear this issue out. All progress comes with some tension and difference of opinion. The difference here seems to be "already doing good enough" vs "we can do much better." The district made a choice to hire a consultant (that was their choice to spend money to verify what the parents' research had already shown). Personally, I do not understand why they spent money on a lawyer which seems excessive, but I have not had the opportunity to ask them personally, so I will refrain from making assumptions about that. Now that the consultant has made the recommendations for the district, we all need to work together to move forward.

This district is full of great people including teachers, parents, students, staff, and administrators. I have no doubt that we can move forward together and will continue to remain a top district committed to excellence in education, if not become even better.


18 people like this
Posted by Allyson Penner
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Apr 17, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Dear Saddened – Yes, it has been unfortunate that an issue that one would have expected to be embraced by our district and community has been met with resistance. Some parents have been privately raising this issue for two years and have been frustrated with the progress. Meanwhile neighboring districts (Menlo Park, Palo Alto, etc.) have taken more proactive steps to embrace diversity, including adopting diversity statements as strategic goals and engaging committees of community members to further their diversity efforts. And meanwhile the publicly available data showed the diversity gap widening in our district. After the letter was sent, the school board provided a public forum for this topic to be discussed. The district provided more details on its perspective and efforts on diversity than had ever been reported previously, including committing to developing a diversity statement and modifying the district’s recruiting materials (part of a number of recommendations apparently made by the district’s consultant over a year ago but not previously disclosed). These are great steps and hopefully the beginning of a collaborative effort. Supporters of this initiative have attempted to be very transparent about their goals, ideas and identities throughout this process, and remain open to all feedback. We have appreciated the opportunity to discuss concerns brought to our attention during this process. We would continue to encourage “Saddened” and others to reach out to any of us anytime to share our mutual perspectives.


24 people like this
Posted by Heather Hopkins
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Apr 18, 2016 at 12:16 pm

Saddened,

It sounds like we're on the same page regarding the importance of diversity. I'm sorry you felt you were being lectured. In posting to this forum, my goal has been to initiate a discussion with other community members who don't seem to agree that diversity in the classroom is an important component of the best education, academic and otherwise.

One needs only read the posts on this thread as well as those on the previous Almanac article Web Link to see that this is not a manufactured controversy. While people may not be willing to make anti-diversity (or just neutral-diversity) statements in public with their names attached, they are certainly making them behind the scenes.

Until fairly recently, I didn't understand the importance of teacher diversity nor the hurtful nature of being "colorblind," while well intentioned. Thankfully, people in our country and community were willing to humbly, openly share their perspectives with me. I'm hopeful that others on this forum who may not agree with our shared opinion may be open to considering other perspectives as well.

If we're in agreement that LLESD can and should continue to pursue diversity in the teaching team, then perhaps we could be a positive, collaborative example to others that having an open and honest conversation is a positive step forward. Please feel free to email me (I'm in the district directory).


8 people like this
Posted by LLESD Grad parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 18, 2016 at 1:06 pm

Can we even out men and women? Should be about 50/50. I would have loved my sons to have had more male instructors, regardless of color.


77 people like this
Posted by insider
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 18, 2016 at 5:09 pm

Hello all-

The morale at LE is low. It has been for the last four years since Mr. Thomas left. While this topic is important, parents don't seem to realize that when morale is low, because of the leadership, teacher hang out in their classrooms and stay clear. No one wants to get on the bad side of the administration and the way to do that is to lay low.

Fact: Morale is low. Take a poll and you will see.
Fact: When teacher morale is low, it trickles to the students.

Fact: Teachers feel that the administration already has hand picks from their previous district in mind so why bother.

Insiders can't even get transfers to the positions they want and we are focused on diversifying the staff? It is a noble goal but honestly, the morale has got to be lifted and one way to do this is to consider what professional growth opportunities the existing staff are seeking and try to support them in doing so. This does not happen.

Please community. Notice when the morale of a school is low and take action to figure out why. In this case, because the supt. and principal are best friends, the errors of a principal who might have been released by now, continued to be smoothed over by her boss. If this isn't obvious to those of you on the outside, it is to us who work in it day to day. It's an environment where the hand picked teachers are given support and other than that, it's up in the air.

When teachers have conversations about when the supt. will go because finally then the principal may go, you know that morale is low. People are just waiting it out.

Low morale affects students. Please put that on the front burner and then diversity will follow.


69 people like this
Posted by Curious C.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 19, 2016 at 12:34 pm

To: insider

I whole heartedly agree that morale at LE is low. Just because teachers continue to enjoy their students and teach them well, does not mean that teachers are thriving. Low morale is due to lack of leadership and teachers are retiring early as one sign of it. There are many teachers (I know them) who would leave if they could afford to do so. It's the salary not the leadership that keeps teachers at LE at least. This is significant to this conversation because it's the salary not the leadership that will attract our teaching force.

We are spinning our wheels acting as if it's an HR issue when we need to get the leadership under control at LE. MPCSD went for the state Principal of the Year when electing Erik. Burmeister and LLESD went for a novice who, while skilled at data analysis, does not have the interpersonal skills to build the morale of the staff and it shows. Teachers (unless they are the handpicked ones) are waiting it out and it is impacting our children in the meantime.

We need to step up and realize that hiring a supt. who is best friends with the principal, is a conflict of interest and this conflict is preventing us from moving forward.

Diversifying the staff will come when the leadership has changed and the morale is lifted. Ask the board to survey the teachers. What about the teachers who have left recently? (pushed out). What about the teachers who take leaves (not thriving). What about the teachers who are retiring, perhaps early (tired of playing the politics of the administration). School board, please check into the morale of the staff and all of them (absence is telling and those teachers must be sought out as well).


61 people like this
Posted by We need changes at LE
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 19, 2016 at 11:12 pm

It is evident that the Superintendent and the Principal do not have the qualifications, skills, and professionalism to lead the education in our district and La Entrada. Thus, the question is how do we get a qualified leadership?

Let's start a serious campaign (online?) with all parents and teachers who are willing ACT NOW and start by sending a clear and strong message to the district that we need to hire professional educators that have the right skills, passion and leadership to improve the quality, morale and standards at LE. LE overall wellbeing and standards are clearly going down with this Principal (and Superintendent). We need to change this!

Please share any ideas and support on how to get this done.

Vote yes / Like if you are in.


21 people like this
Posted by Time for change
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 20, 2016 at 6:09 pm

[Portion removed due to same poster using multiple names]


17 people like this
Posted by Perplexed
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 20, 2016 at 8:41 pm

Well, this thread has certainly changed! I guess we segued from diversity to "bash the administration" when someone suggested that we won't attract diverse teachers (or any) unless we change the administration. Well...I agree. Can't wait to see where this goes


30 people like this
Posted by Past Supporter of LLSED
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Apr 20, 2016 at 9:29 pm

I spent decades supporting LLSED and took pride in our schools. I loved volunteering year after year and tried to help what was a wonderful school district. I am sadden by how far the schools have fallen with this current leadership. I have not had direct contact with the schools for the last several years so I have not heard why good people are leaving. Has anyone asked them why they felt the need to leave? Back when my children attended no one even thought of leaving. I was always shocked how parents wanted their kids in the district over private school. Our schools attracted vast quantity and quality teachers. They came to us. They never left. WHAT HAPPENED! WHAT HAS GONE SO TERRIBLY WRONG! Maybe my children are no longer in the school district, but this affects our property values. Someone needs to get a handle on this and fast. Go back and asked the ones that left who are no longer gagged and free to answer honestly, "Why?" I for one would be interested to know.


40 people like this
Posted by Happy Staff Happy Students
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 20, 2016 at 10:00 pm

LLESD Board...please take all these comments seriously and realize that your teachers are calling for help...It sounds like hidden, non-transparent agendas and bulldozer mentality ("my way or the highway") are the dominant management technique. Staff morale must be low for a reason.


39 people like this
Posted by Kids matter
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 20, 2016 at 11:43 pm

Yes to Perplexed
Yes to Happy Staff
Yes to Past Supporter

Thank you all. You are all spot on.

Yes, teachers are calling out for help. This thread has changed because teachers have been waiting for an opportunity to be heard. No one asks. Yes, hidden non-transparent agendas where students are not the center, make us down. But many are silenced. Why are teachers leaving? Why are teachers on leave? Why are teachers retiring early? Why do some teachers just mysteriously disappear? It makes us nervous when that happens and makes us focus on how to play the game rather than create and innovate for students.

Why are things so top down? Why are we asked to give input? Where have all the flowers gone?

Part of the problem is that the administration comes from a large comprehensive K-12 district that functions on protocols and procedures, reporting and the like. While any effective organization is going to have such systems in place, our small personal community isn't use to functioning like that. We're not numbers, we're teachers with lives, aspirations, interests, and yes agendas that most often involve students. Please don't just allow the administration to silence us, "Obey or Pay". LLESD Board. Please find a safe way to reach out to us. Ask the other administrators at the school as well but make it safe.

Better yet. Find us a leadership team with no conflict of interest and with students(not politics) at the center.


36 people like this
Posted by Next Steps to change "Leadership" now!
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 21, 2016 at 12:01 am

The "leadership" has clearly no clue about how to provide high quality education to our kids. The academic level and all standards at La Entrada are in free fall.

Why??

Very simple, we have an inexperienced and frankly incompetent Principal and Assistant Principals. Just take the time to review their bios or just go talk to them for a few minutes and you'll understand. And talk to your friends & neighbors about their experience with LE. The fact that they oppose the no brainer measure of increasing diversity also shows the low quality of the "leadership" that we have.

How do we bring in a qualified, high level Principal?

Our children are receiving a poor education at LE and the value of our property is falling along with the quality of La Entrada thanks to Ms. Potts & company. Let's act on it!

Next steps?

1. Ask the board to conduct an anonymous survey of all teachers and parents. There is no reason they could oppose this request.

2. Write a public letter or petition to be signed online and send it not to the Superintendent (best friend of Potts), but to the boss of her boss in Sacramento to make sure the message is heard loud and clear.

3. Spread the word and let's start a big movement and make big, fundamental changes.

Are you in? And are you willing to act??


9 people like this
Posted by Willing to Act
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 21, 2016 at 8:26 am

Mother in The District,


Please let us know who gave you the impression that 175 district parents are asking for 'non credentialed teachers to be teaching our students', or did you come up with this on your own? Are you a working woman? Have you ever worked outside of the home? If so it it hard to imagine you have never come across sexism in the workplace. It is hard to imagine you've never met a woman who hasn't been passed over or under-appreciated in the workplace when compared to a man who is assumed to be more qualified.

By presuming a non-white teacher must be non-qualified, do you not see the similarities in thinking? If this has not been your experience, please let the rest of us know where you live and work. Many of us would appreciate the same experience.


6 people like this
Posted by Willing to Act
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 21, 2016 at 8:36 am


Saddened,

Headline in todays Huffington Post:

It’s Not Getting Any Easier For Women To Become CEOs


To Saddened and the 50 others of you who liked Saddened's post. Is the glass ceiling for women a 'manufactured controversy?' Please discuss.

Web Link


43 people like this
Posted by Parent of Former LE Students
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Apr 21, 2016 at 10:58 am

Finally, the real issues at LE are being brought to light.

As a parent of LE students, I have been deeply disappointed in the trajectory of the school in recent years. Since the hiring of Cesario/Potts, the staff (LE's greatest assets) have grown afraid to voice their opinions for fear they will be reap negative consequences from the administration. I've been a direct witness to one of LE's most beloved teachers being ignored and marginalized by both Shannon and Lisa. Students are astutely aware of the dissension among the ranks and are distracted by it. This is completely unacceptable!

The school board that hired Cesario/Potts should be ashamed of themselves for not upholding the standard of excellence long held by previous administrations.

This thread needs to be immediately heeded by the school board and swift action should be taken to remedy this problem. It's not just a few cranky parents on social media venting. This is a REAL problem. Please listen.




37 people like this
Posted by LE Community Member
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 21, 2016 at 11:25 am

Parents, we have the power to speak to the board. Only the board can make this important change. It is clear that the teachers have no voice. Ask the teachers at LE what is wrong. Those teachers are retiring early for a reason. Please, help the school get back on track.


Like this comment
Posted by Act NOW!
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jun 18, 2016 at 11:41 pm

Act NOW! is a registered user.

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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