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  • Monday, January 25, 2010


    Metro VIEWS: Race to the Top Perspective

    Metro VIEWS
    A community service of the
    Greater Orange Communities Organization

    Giving voice to the Greater Orange Communities

    As the Obama administration pushes its Race to the Top agenda, districts like Orange Unified are grappling with the nuts and bolts implications of the program (see OUSD’s Race to the Top position at:OUSD RTTT) . Following is a post circulating on the internet from the blog the Classroom Post
    A Teacher's Letter to President Obama by Ronald Maggiano:

    Dear President Obama,

    First, I want to thank you for your efforts to make education reform a top priority of your administration. While I applaud your enthusiasm for reform, I am concerned that you and Secretary Arne Duncan may be headed in the wrong direction.

    During your campaign, you frequently criticized No Child Left Behind and its myopic focus on high-stakes standardized testing. In a speech delivered to the National Education Association on July 5, 2007, you declared, "... don't tell us that the only way to teach a child is to spend too much of the year preparing him to fill in a few bubbles on a standardized test."

    "Tests," you said in your speech, "should not be designed as punishment for teachers and students, they should be used as tools to help prepare our children to grow and compete in a knowledge economy. Tests should support learning, not just accounting."

    Unfortunately, during the first year of your administration, your administration has done just the opposite. Your "Race to the Top" initiative focuses almost exclusively on standardized test scores - and holding teachers accountable for those scores. This seems to contradict the very promise you made during your campaign.

    During the same speech, you also praised teachers for their work and dedication, promising higher pay and more respect. You said then, "Our kids are why you walk into that classroom every day even when you're not getting the support, or the pay, or the respect that you deserve - because you believe that every child should have a chance to succeed; that every child can be taught."

    Again, your administration has failed to follow through on this promise. Instead, you have said over and over again since during the past year that we need better and more qualified teachers in our nation's classrooms. Such rhetoric does a disservice to the thousands of highly trained, competent, and professional teachers who are doing their best against increasingly difficult odds.

    You also stated, "I am tired of hearing teachers blamed for our collective failures." If you really meant this, Mr. President, then please stop blaming teachers because we are all tired of hearing this too.

    As for the pay issue, you promised, "that if you're a teacher or a principal doing the hard work of educating our children, we will reward that work with the salary increase that you deserve."

    Well, Mr. President, teachers in my district have not received a pay raise in two years. This means that in real dollars, we are all working for less money than we did when you were campaigning for office - and most of us are working longer and harder.

    Sadly, your administration has failed to address this problem. Only a small percentage of the federal funds earmarked for education actually filters down to the classroom where it is needed most. This is likely to continue under Race to the Top.

    As for the so-called "stimulus funds" intended to help schools during the present recession, little went directly to teachers, despite your pledge to help save teacher's jobs. This is why school districts all across America - including mine - are laying off teachers this year.

    In your speech you said, "Don't tell us that you'll put high-quality teachers in every classroom and then leave the support and the pay for those teachers behind." With all due respect, Mr. President, that is exactly what your administration is now doing.

    Finally, you closed your speech with this ringing declaration, "I know you'll be leading the way, and I look forward to standing with you in the fight."

    Well, Mr. President, it has been a nearly a year. We are tired of empty slogans and broken promises. And we are still waiting for you to join us in the fight.


    A Dedicated Teacher

    Opinions expressed in Metro VIEWS are not necessarily the opinion of the networks that post it.

    Metro VIEWS is a community service of the
    Greater Orange Communities Organization

    Ecast on the
    A 21st Century Communications System
    Produced by the
    Orange Communication System /OCS/


    Saturday, January 23, 2010


    Metro TALK: Rolling for Wishes, Orange Eichlers and Orange Rotary gives cash

    Metro TALK
    a community service of the
    Greater Orange Communities Organization

    3rd Annual Make-a-Wish fundraiser
    takes theme south of the border

    The 3rd Annual Rolling for Wishes Casino Night to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Orange County and the Inland Empire will be held Saturday February 27, 2010 at Orange’s Grand Street Center. The committee planning for this year’s event has set a high bar for the event- to raise even more than the $33,000 generated in 2009.

    Committee chair Karla Kjellin-Elder of Orange has been the driving force behind the event for the last three years. Kjellin-Elder and her husband, Jeff Elder (a member of the Make-a-Wish Board), completely underwrite the event each year. That generosity allows all the money raised from ticket sales, sponsorships and donations to go directly to the local Make-A-Wish Foundation. “The community has really supported our efforts,” says Kjellin-Elder. “With their continued support, we are looking forward to raising at least $3,000 more than we did last year.” .

    Rolling for Wishes has a unique theme each year. This year’s theme is Rolling for Wishes Olé . The Olé theme blends the relaxed attitude of the Mexico with the lively spirit of a Jimmy Buffet song. Guests will enjoy a buffet-style Mexican dinner, ice-cold Corona beer, cocktails, and desserts handmade by baker Fritz Jansen. The evening features a Casino Night, complete with Craps tables and a Poker Room. In addition, there will be a raffle with prizes that include five $100 South Coast Plaza gift certificates, USC Basket Full of Goodies, Wine from Tobin James and Wiens Wineries, an OC Museum of Art Basket, poker set, autographed cookbooks, a computer, and more. The grand prize opportunity drawing is a seven-night stay in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico at the Playa Del Sol, Costa Sur. Tickets for this prize are $25 each or 5 for $100. The highlight of the event will be a speech by John Ott, father of a child who received a wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

    The $36,000 goal will provide wishes to seven children with life-threatening diseases. To meet that goal, Kjellin-Elder and the planning committee hope to secure more donors and sponsors. “We're seeking underwriters and casino table sponsors for this event,” says Kjellin-Elder. “Sponsorships are $250. Any $400 sponsorship includes 2 tickets to the event!” People are welcome to donate any amount they can afford. Likewise, there is still a need for items to use in the raffle. “We appreciate anything you can give us—large and small items are welcome. We will use them all!”

    The event takes place on Saturday, February 27th, from 6:00pm – 11:00pm at the Grand Street Center, located at 146 Grand Street in Orange. Tickets are $65 per person, and $500 for a table of 10.

    For more information on the event, sponsorships, or gift donations
    CLICK ON:Rolling for Wishes Olé or call Karla Kjellin-Elder at
    714-921-2616 or email her at

    Historic Orange Eichler house to host drawings event
    Orange’s 330 Eichler home enclave will host a special exhibit of artist Jeffrey Crussell illustrating the architecture of developer Joseph Eichler and his early 1960’s mid-century modern homes built here in Orange. The exhibit will consist of 50 pencil drawings available as archival pigment prints in editions of 10 and displayed in a 1964 Eichler designed by the architectural firm of Claude Oakland. The venue for the event will be an historic 1964 Eichler home in Orange currently being restored. The exhibition runs from February 20- March 20th. The Opening Party celebration is February 20, 2010 4-8 p.m. The Closing Party will be held on March, 20, 2010 and will include a distinguished panel discussion that includes noted historian and architectural home author Alan Hess. Tickets must be request by email at
    For more information CLICK ON: EICHLER

    Orange Rotary awards cash in local teacher grants
    Nineteen Orange Unified School District teachers from ten local schools received mini-grant awards from the Rotary Club of Orange in conjunction with the Orange Education Foundation. The mini-grants were given to teachers who found an “Innovative Way” to teach a subject or subjects with projects that are not ordinarily funded through the school district. The mini-grants awarded included these innovated projects: building a flashlight out of household items; creating a school newspaper; building a walk-in planetarium; a time elapsed video diary; and creating stories and poems and having them bound and published for each student in the class with a copy for the Orange Public Library.

    Orange Unified Superintendent Dr. Renae Dreier (pictured right), herself an Orange Rotarian, presented over $10,000 in Rotary mini-grant awards in two separate presentations to teachers from 10 OUSD schools. The teachers who received the grants were: Kathy Lundberg (California ES); Sharon Cecchi and Richard O’Connor (Crescent ES); John McCarthy (Handy ES); Susan Mullins, Michele Stephans and Sarah Dalton (Imperial ES); Jeanne Matson (Prospect ES); Lynn Okamura (Running Springs ES); Christy Covington and Dana Vigneault (Serrano ES): Helen Ramsey and Kristen Dan (Sycamore ES); Tami Daffen (West Orange ES); and Szu Wei Hseih, Chelsea Bottomley, Teresa Andrade, Cheryl Robertson and Tara Randall (McPherson Magnet School).

    Metro TALK is a community service of the

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010



    Due to the unusually large traffic being directed to our site looking for updates on the current storm related information we are providing this link to the ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF BLOG.

    That Blog (the LINK is always available to the left on our BLOG ROLL
    under ORANGE COUNTY BLOGS) has the latest updates for Orange County Emergency Services, including evacuation orders.

    Please CLICK ON for Emergency Infomation:

    You may also call the Orange County Public Information Hotline phone number for up to date emergency information
    at (714) 628-7085.

    You may also sign up for EMAIL STORM UPDATES from the County of Orange at the following LINK:

    Labels: , ,

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010


    OUSD INSIDE: Budget Cuts, Dreier Contract Extension,more staff furlough days

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    a news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/
    Independent insight into OUSD

    All we can do is react to what Sacramento is doing to us
    -OUSD Assistant Superintendent M. Christensen


    On December 10, 2009, the last Orange Unified School District Board Meeting approved Action Item 13 B cuts totaling $4.29 million. For the second year in a row, OUSD Trustees were forced by the ongoing State Budget Crisis to make deep budget cuts including closing a small school. The school this time is the district’s current smallest enrolment school- Riverdale Elementary. Other cuts included: district funds for sports transportation for high school sports; an elimination of the GATE program busing; the 5th and 6th grade instrumental music program; the elementary summer school program; a restructuring of the secondary summer school program as a consolidated credit recovery program; restructuring of night custodial service that may include sharing of services; first and second grade class size reductions being increased from the current 25:1 ratio to a 30:1 ration. Details of a Board approved further cut to OUSD Administrative and support staff positions of $450,000 are not being spelled out until the second interim budget is presented.

    To close the projected budget deficit the Board also approved an increase in the Student Bus Pass fee and an increase in the high school class size ratio from the current 32:1 ratio to a 33:1. The change in ratio class size increase needs to be negotiated with the teachers’ association. After approval of the budget cuts by a 7-0 vote, the OUSD Board then voted to certify and report to the Orange County Department of Education that their budget now had Positive financial certification. That vote passed 6-0 with Trustee Melissa Smith missing the vote after she quickly left the Board Room after the budget vote for a few minutes after a major “texting” episode during the staff report on the needed budget cuts (note information following).

    INSIDE the December 10, 2009 Meeting-other actions

    Before the budget cuts vote, the OUSD Board in its legally required annual organizational election, elected Trustee John Ortega as OUSD Board President for 2010. Nominated by Trustee Dr. Alexia Deligianni, Ortega was elected 7-0. It will be Ortega’s second time as OUSD Board President. Ortega then nominated Trustee Mark Wayland to be Board Vice President which Wayland quickly declined. Trustee Kathy Moffat then nominated Melissa Smith as Vice President.

    The vote for Smith was 5-2 in favor with Wayland and Deligianni voting against her. Wayland was nominated by Trustee Kim Nichols for clerk and elected 7-0.

    After the vote for Vice President, Smith (who has served both as Vice President and President before) quipped that the last time she had been Vice President (when former Wes Poutsma was Board President) she ended up acting as President quite a number of times because of “sickness” (Poutsma became very ill towards the end of his term and did not seek re-election) and kiddingly chided Ortega not to be sick. Smith who was an extremely engaged Board President has since been often seen as disengaged during Board meetings as she spends time with head down, hands below the dais texting on her cell phone. This was very apparent during the December 10th meeting when she spent most of the time texting during the staff presentation on the budget cuts. At one point an obviously annoyed now President Ortega stared at her while she texted away (oblivious to his glare), as did her long time political ally Moffat (both who sit on either side of her). After the budget vote, Smith abruptly got up with cell phone in hand left the meeting (missing the next vote), returning a short time later to continue texting for a short time.

    The OUSD Board also approved the Resolution to Deny the Barrack H. Obama Leadership Academy Charter High School application 7-0. Coming just a month after the Global Tides Charter School application (which was also denied), this next “spam charter” application was 405 pages long and again took hundreds of staff man-hours to investigate and report to the Board. On the January 21, 2010 Board Agenda (Agenda Action Item 12 D-page 11) the 2010 Legislative Coalition platform will address the issue of “spam charters” by including a plank in their platform promoting “legislation that would address the substantial costs to school districts in responding to charter school applications, as requires by law” (Agenda page 12).

    The Board reviewed the 2010-2011 student calendar with a 3 week Winter Break a 1 week Fall Break at Thanksgiving and a two week Spring Break. OUSD Inside had mistakenly reported that the Winter Break was being cut back to two weeks (sorry we missed the lighter strikes through the first week in January on our copy of the then proposed calendar from the online Agenda-thanks to all who corrected us). The Board is scheduled to approve this calendar at their January 21, 2010 meeting (Agenda Action Item 12 A-page 3).

    Dreier wins first GOPY Award and a longer contract
    Orange Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Renae Dreier was named the recipient of the GOPY Award- the Greater Orange Person of the Year Award. Dreier is the first ever winner of the newly instituted annual award from the Orange Communication System, the communications arm of the watchdog group the Greater Orange Community Organization. The Orange Communication System is the producer of original local central Orange County news services that include Orange Net News (ONN) and the Greater Orange News Service.

    In a December 26th community email, the Greater Orange Community Organization announced that the Orange Communication System awarded the first annual 2009 GOPY Award based on the award’s criteria of “the person who’s actions most influenced the Greater Orange Community” during the year.

    Dreier started in July of 2008 as OUSD Superintendent replacing retired OUSD Superintendent Dr. Thomas Godley. Dreier was hired away from the Greeley-Evans School District Number 6 in Greeley, Colorado. Dreier had moved from California to Greeley to become their Superintendent. Unlike here in Greater Orange, Dreier never quite won over the whole Greeley community. In OUSD, Dreier has worked to end the consultant culture, foster open communication and move on changing many antiquated ways of doing things. Her ability to gather data and use it to transform OUSD continues to be evident in her approach to budget cuts. Dreier has used information as an ally in budget decisions. The most recent example is listening to staff and administrative concerns and taking elementary library clerks off the recent budget cut list declaring at the December 10 meeting her job is to “make sure every dime counts” and declaring that her weekly visits to classrooms all over OUSD show her that “despite the gloom I am confident that our employees give a world class education to our students”.

    On the January 21, 2010 Board Agenda (Agenda Action Item 12 C- agenda page 10), Dreier will get a contract extension past her current July 2011 contract expiration. The extension will not include a pay raise. Dreier voluntarily took the same 2% pay cut other administrators were forced to take and the teacher’s union and support staff also accepted. The January 21, 2010 Board Agenda includes Action Item 12 B (agenda page 5) to approve the Memorandum of Understanding between OUSD and the staff support union- the CSEA Chapter 67 also resulting in furlough days amounting to about 2%.

    INSIDE the January 21, 2010 Agenda
    12 A- Student Calendar 2010-2011 approval
    12 B-Agreement for cuts by furlough days to support staff
    12 C-Extending Superintendent Dr. Dreier’s contract past 2011
    12 D-Legislative Coalition’s 2010 Legislative Platform
    12 E-Revision of OUSD’s Conflict of Interest Code

    13 A- U.S. Department of Energy “Energy Star” Recognition award to OUSD and individual OUSD schools
    13 B- Projections of the ultimate future student population of OUSD

    INSIDE Community Donations
    Rotary Club of Orange- $600 Science Grant; Villa Park H.S. Baseball Boosters-$1,500 in salary stipends; Tustin Lexus-$100 to Anaheim Hills E.S. for supplies; Canyon H.S. PTSA- $2,650 after school tutors; Canyo9n Rim PTA $16,866 for computers; Kim Nichols $75 in stipend donation (pay reduction). (For a complete list of the $97,000 in donations see page 22 of the Agenda).

    INSIDE the OUSD Budget

    Former Superintendent Godley’s Retirement Bonus running total
    (beginning 8/2008): $20,250.00*

    * The Godley Retirement Bonus presented here is an estimate of the amount in “bonus retirement” accrued since the Superintendent’s retirement on 6/30/08 using a 6% lifetime formula calculated here at $1210 a month since 8/08. The actual retirement plan the former OUSD Superintendent opted to take is not public information and the figures presented are only as an estimate of the taxpayer costs after the OUSD trustees voted against an amendment to exclude Godley from the retirement program. The on-going estimated figure is presented as a reminder to the community of the high cost in educational tax dollars the OUSD Board vote to allow the former Superintendent to participate in the 6% retirement incentive cost the OUSD education community in tax dollars. Godley retired from OUSD on June 30, 2008 after he worked for the school district for a little over five years.

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2009: $1,041,000
    2009 Attorney Fee Tally:
    11/13/08 Parker & Covert (for 1/09 -6/09) $ 200,000
    3/12/09 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya (Sp. Ed) $ 50,000
    3/12/09 Parker & Covert (Special Ed) $ 98,000
    6/18/09 Parker & Covert (09-10) $ 400,000
    6/18/09 Parker & Covert (Special Ed) $ 200,000
    6/18/09 Parker & Covert (property) $ 55,000
    6/18/09 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya (property)$ 35,000
    Total $1,038,000

    2009 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
    01/24/09 Leadership Associates Consultants $ 3,000
    2009 TOTAL $1,041,000
    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2008: $901,200.00

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2007: $704,090.00*

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2006: $849,717.00*
    2006 Administrative Conference/Travel: Total $ 18,317 *

    * JUNE 8th, 2006 Trustees VOTE to Give OUSD Superintendent the power to
    APPROVE OUSD Travel Requests taking this item OUT of the PUBLIC AGENDA

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2005: $978,300.00



    CLOSED SESSION- 6:00 pm
    OUSD Regular Session: 7:00 pm
    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040
    For budgeting questions call Business Services at 714-628-4015

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    Independent insight into OUSD
    is an independent news service of /O/N/N/“Independent Local Insight”

    Saturday, January 09, 2010


    Dave Rudat Email published by Register Blogger to appear in Sunday Register Opinion page

    The Orange County Register's series on Public Pensions has the City of Orange former City Manager Dave Rudat going after Orange City Council members in an emailed response published in one of the Register's blogs- The Orange Punch (by Brian Calle). That blog created such a controversy the email will be printed in a condensed version in the Sunday Register on the opinion page. In case you missed the entire version the link is posted below:

    DEC 30 Rudat Email (full version)

    Wednesday, January 06, 2010


    Garden Grove USD Trustee Supports Brown Act and walks out of Trustee Meeting

    The Liberal OC blog has posted the following account of GGSD Trustee Kim Oanh Nguyen Lam walking out of a GGUSD Trustee meeting over fellow Trustee Lan Nguyen’s alleged violation of the the Brown Act. The Liberal OC blog story:

    GGSD Trustee Kim Oanh Nguyen Lam walks from meeting over Lan Nguyen’s violation of Brown Act

    In a dramatic move supporting government transparency and accountability, Dr. KimOanh Nguyen Lam, Trustee for the Garden Grove Unified School District, walked out of Tuesday evening’s board meeting over an alleged blatant violation of the Brown Act by her fellow board members. The Brown Act prohibits a quorum of elected officials from deciding on public matters without public notice or input.

    Before a packed board room that included many high school students covering the board meeting for their civics class, Dr. Nguyen Lam referenced actions that took place in the board’s organizational meeting on December 15, 2009.

    For the full story including Dr. Lam's shocking summary of the alleged violation in open session CLICK ON:


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    Greater Orange News Service is a community service of the Orange Communication System /OCS/, the communications arm of the Greater Orange Community Orgainization