Mill Valley teacher quits amid STAR i...

Mill Valley teacher quits amid STAR investigation

There are 56 comments on the Marin Independent Journal story from Feb 13, 2009, titled Mill Valley teacher quits amid STAR investigation. In it, Marin Independent Journal reports that:

A popular Mill Valley elementary school teacher resigned Friday after what officials concluded was "adult testing irregularity" on her students' standardized test results.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Marin Independent Journal.

mattoid66 of San Rafael

Boulder Creek, CA

#22 Feb 16, 2009
Tara wrote:
Mattoid, the statistic that you give re: CA being 48th out of 50 relates to the amount of spending per pupil.
The reason CA public schools are struggling is because over the years, the state of CA has taken away more and more funding, and so more and more has been cut: no teacher aids, no music or art unless privately funded by PTAs ans Foundations, not enough yard duty helpers unless parents are willing to volunteer...I could go on and on. With the current CA budget crisis, they are looking to make even more cuts to public education which means potentially: bigger class sizes, am/pm kindergarten, laying off teachers, cutting middle school electives...
The teachers do the best they can, and given what they are paid and the State's lack of emphasis on education, they are doing a damn good job.
All true. That's why government has to get out of the business all together. More money, less money, it doesn't matter. Why don't we all admit government has failed and start thinking outside the box?

BTW, what influence have immigrants (legal and illegal) been on the system? Are there stats on this? You seem to be WAY more informed on this than I am.
Whatever

Sausalito, CA

#23 Feb 17, 2009
Gordy Hall wrote:
'Rational approach' shows that they belong to the group that knows nothing of the educational process, nor what 'teaching' and 'learning' actually are.
People like you are ridiculous. "Everyone" is wrong and teachers are all the salt of the earth "teaching" so nobley and creating "learning". What a joke. standards are needed in the profession the same as ALL others. Many teachers are good. Few, like in any profession, are truly great. Some are malcontents or cheat.

The basis of "teaching" at the late high school and college level is to teach a student how to teach themselves. The basis before that is to teach fundamentals. Spare us the noble teacher garbage. Most are average. That is what an "average" is, pal.
Whatever

Sausalito, CA

#24 Feb 17, 2009
How TheyDoIT wrote:
This teacher is held in the highest regard by the parents and students at her school. Funny, how bureacrats, on one hand don't listen to parents and taxpayers regarding reigning in their excesses...and when a relatively minor "maybe" irregularity occurs....:they" oversized management...five degrees of separation from being hands on in the classroom..once again listen to no one and negatively impact our schools again. Glad we are paying all the taxes for their "wisdom:". pathetic.
YOU are in a small minority of over involved parents. The important issue here was always integrity. Clearly, according to reports now evident in the press:
(1) They were asked by an objective third party to investigate
(2) the incidence of erasure marks was 11-22 times normal (the equivalent of "being struck by lightening the same day one won the lottery")
(3) in defeence to all the comments here stating otherwise, they in fact DID speak to the teacher
(4) placing her on leave during an investigation was the appropriate thing to do
(5) most of Mill Valley disagrees with you.
(6) STAR testing is a completely different issue
(7) give it a rest
Whatever

Sausalito, CA

#25 Feb 17, 2009
Peninsula Mom wrote:
<quoted text>
I concur. The problem inherent with any resolution process is that, whatever the outcome, there are those who believe that the facts did not come out, and they will want the system to continue to look for it. For those who believe the facts have been uncovered, the matter is settled, and they do want to "move on" - because they believe that it is in the child's best interest to do so. Timing plays a part also here - the children are on break now, there is an opportunity here to give the current and/or next teacher some time to review what has happened to this classroom and work to repair and restore the learning process. I am not a parent in this class, but if I were, I would do my best to see that the teacher going forward is positioned to succeed with my child's learning and those of her classmates.
NOW THAT'S SOMEONE WHO CARES ABOUT THE CHILDREN! Get over it an move on. In the scheme of things, Ms. Sikin isn;t that important to your children or their lives-unless YOU AS A PARENT MAKE IT SO! MAKE THE NEW TEAHER FELL WELCOME AND SUPPORT HER. IT'S NOT HER FAULT
TBone

Sausalito, CA

#26 Feb 17, 2009
mattoid66 of San Rafael wrote:
Get the government out of education all together. Disband the teacher's union.
Privatization would promote competition which, in turn, would produce a better education system.
I went to Jameson Hall in San Rafael in the 70's. My folks paid a pretty penny for it so they took way more of an interest in my studies. The teachers and students instilled a sense of shame if you didn't show any effort. When I went to TLHS I was given the EXACT SAME TEXT BOOKS that I used in 7th grade!
Why is Calif. 48 out of 50? Because public schools have become not only a publicly funded baby sitting service but because of fear of litigation, teachers can't force any discipline.
A majority of kids I know have no knowledge of history or perspective. It's really pathetic.
Actually we're 48th because California carries the burden of a federal government that does not enforce imiigration laws and at least put up a fence and have national ID cards. California has more illegals here than anywhere else, born of uneducated, non-English speaking parents who hide in the shadow economy because they are here illegally, THEIR countries, mostly Mexico, refuse to invest in them and their kids are ESL.

The second reason is teacher's unions
TBone

Sausalito, CA

#27 Feb 17, 2009
Tara wrote:
Mattoid, the statistic that you give re: CA being 48th out of 50 relates to the amount of spending per pupil.
The reason CA public schools are struggling is because over the years, the state of CA has taken away more and more funding, and so more and more has been cut: no teacher aids, no music or art unless privately funded by PTAs ans Foundations, not enough yard duty helpers unless parents are willing to volunteer...I could go on and on. With the current CA budget crisis, they are looking to make even more cuts to public education which means potentially: bigger class sizes, am/pm kindergarten, laying off teachers, cutting middle school electives...
The teachers do the best they can, and given what they are paid and the State's lack of emphasis on education, they are doing a damn good job.
Given what they are paid? A top tenure teacher in Mill Valley makes about $85K per year. Given the 2.5 months thay have off during the year and the other time off they get at Christmas, February and April, they work about 9 months per year. Annualized, that's $113K per year, WITH RETIREMENT and HEALTH CARE. Sorry, but the old teacher's aren't paid enough argument died years ago. The real problem is the union and the inability to fire bad teachers without incredible effort, as well as NO merit increases, it's only based on hanging around and being average at best, as is the case in all unions
TBone

Sausalito, CA

#28 Feb 17, 2009
So who did it wrote:
There are different versions of the STAR test for each student in the classroom, are we to believe this teacher took the time to go back and retake 25 different tests for the students in her classroom? And I have a hard time understanding why she would be at all motivated to spend the huge amount of time required to do this, or how that time would even be available given the strict custody procedures that are usually in place with these tests (ie- pick up tests, give tests, give tests back to administrator). I'd like to know what the kids remember from the testing.
Wonder no more: they have a WEEK to "administer" the test after it is completed. She wanted to have the highest test scores for 3rd graders in Mill Valley and to beat her predecessor to show "how great she is". That's a nut job. Good riddance
TBone

Sausalito, CA

#29 Feb 17, 2009
"Mill Valley resident Bonnie Freiberg, a retired teacher who has worked in Siskin's classes for the past decade, said she was "terribly disappointed" about Siskin's resignation.

"What we were all hoping is that she was going to go back to the classroom," said Freiberg, who has remained in contact with Siskin. "That was the goal of all this. The students and parents will be devastated."

She said she was shocked by the district's handling of the investigation.

"I don't know any other time where testing has (involved) removing a teacher from the classroom before anything has been decided," Freiberg said.

Freiberg, who said she'd be surprised if Siskin took legal action in the matter, said of the teacher, "she's going to land on her feet.

"Teaching is her life," she said."

Why quote ONE teacher who wroked with her? Why not talk to the MAJORITY of parents in Mill Valley who support the district?

Dear Ms. Freiberg:

Mill Valley also NEVER had a teacher who cheated so much that the testing people had to write a letter to the District and tell them to investigate because the cheating was SO OBVIOUS and EGREGIOUS! The End.
whistle

San Francisco, CA

#30 Feb 17, 2009
Gee, some of these people talk like it's the end of the world. I find that only the teachers in high school had any influence on me.
How TheyDoIT

United States

#31 Feb 17, 2009
TBone wrote:
<quoted text>
Given what they are paid? A top tenure teacher in Mill Valley makes about $85K per year. Given the 2.5 months thay have off during the year and the other time off they get at Christmas, February and April, they work about 9 months per year. Annualized, that's $113K per year, WITH RETIREMENT and HEALTH CARE. Sorry, but the old teacher's aren't paid enough argument died years ago. The real problem is the union and the inability to fire bad teachers without incredible effort, as well as NO merit increases, it's only based on hanging around and being average at best, as is the case in all unions
Don't forget they get their highest salary (usually spiked with a nod and wink by administrators) FOR LIFE. So its not $113k a year...its double that...because if they work 30 years...they will get paid that salary, medical/dental benefits...every month ... plus cost of living increases for LIFE. So retiring at 55 and living until 85...is a multi million dollar retirement ... love teachers..but these are outrageous payouts...and the unions are enjoying far too much success using kids as a weapon and need to reel in these payouts that will only bury our children with debt.
LOOKER

San Francisco, CA

#32 Feb 17, 2009
Teachers do have it pretty good with all that vacation time although they do spend time outside classroom hours on lesson plans etc. But many of us in other fields also do work outside normal hours and don't get paid for it.

Teachers have to put up with some of "those" parents. That's the tough part. I remember the time when a Mill Valley parent complained that the other children at the middle school were treating her daughter badly. It turns out that this parent was always telling her daughter how superior she was. No wonder the other kids didn't like her.

By the way when Mill Valley schools passed a new parcel tax, the ones who voted for it are saying, "Gee, too bad you lost your job and maybe your house, but I want homeowners who can pay for my kid's education."
Rational approach

Corte Madera, CA

#33 Feb 17, 2009
Actually, TBone, we're 48th because then Attorney General Bill Lockyear didn't adequately defend Proposition 187, which would have removed the burden of illegal immigrant students from our state schools. Arizona passed similar language, took it to the Supreme Court, and won. Lockyear didn't want to win and settled it out early.

If put on the ballot again, 187 would pass again, but nobody trusts our current elected officials to defend it in the federal courts.
mattoid66 of San Rafael

Boulder Creek, CA

#34 Feb 17, 2009
Wow! I'm really getting educated on how sorry the state of affairs are in the education system in this state.(county)

Thanks to all for your input. No, really.
Lets be fair

San Jose, CA

#35 Feb 17, 2009
As a financial planner I've seen the numbers: teacher's don't get 100% of their highest salary in retirement, in most cases they might be able to get 75%(and if retired at 55 it would be MUCH lower, like 50-60%), and no one is getting free health coverage in retirement anymore. These defined benefit pensions are not free to them, as you would make it seem, teachers contribute about 10% of their annual salary to the retirement system. I give my teacher clients a lot of credit, they may get some serious time off, but I don't think I could give presentations for 4-5 hours straight every work day without having some light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, it should be easier to get rid of ineffective (or dishonest) teachers, but let's not vilify the majority teachers for earning a decent living.
How TheyDoIT wrote:
<quoted text>
Don't forget they get their highest salary (usually spiked with a nod and wink by administrators) FOR LIFE. So its not $113k a year...its double that...because if they work 30 years...they will get paid that salary, medical/dental benefits...every month ... plus cost of living increases for LIFE. So retiring at 55 and living until 85...is a multi million dollar retirement ... love teachers..but these are outrageous payouts...and the unions are enjoying far too much success using kids as a weapon and need to reel in these payouts that will only bury our children with debt.
Rational approach

Corte Madera, CA

#36 Feb 17, 2009
No, let's vilify the majority of teachers for continuing to support a unionized system that protects the incompetent, the dishonest, and the worthless teachers. It's not that we just dislike the teachers who shouldn't be teaching, it's that we dislike the others who protect them and compound the crime.
Death N Taxes

United States

#37 Feb 17, 2009
In a nutshell.....Unions are keeping bad teachers in the classroom......period.
Lets be fair

San Jose, CA

#38 Feb 18, 2009
Rational Approach- I was responding to Tbone and HowTheyDoIt who seem not to have a grasp on all the financial facts, and because I don't think that angrily going after teacher salaries is relevant to this discussion.
TBone

Sausalito, CA

#39 Feb 18, 2009
Lets be fair wrote:
As a financial planner I've seen the numbers: teacher's don't get 100% of their highest salary in retirement, in most cases they might be able to get 75%(and if retired at 55 it would be MUCH lower, like 50-60%), and no one is getting free health coverage in retirement anymore. These defined benefit pensions are not free to them, as you would make it seem, teachers contribute about 10% of their annual salary to the retirement system. I give my teacher clients a lot of credit, they may get some serious time off, but I don't think I could give presentations for 4-5 hours straight every work day without having some light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, it should be easier to get rid of ineffective (or dishonest) teachers, but let's not vilify the majority teachers for earning a decent living.
<quoted text>
Please. They have VERY predictable hours. Even the harder working ones are in on a regular basis no earlier that 7:45 and except on rare occasion, nevr past 5 pm. Most are in RIGHT at the last minute required and out the door by 4:30 pm, many much earlier. Occassionally they might have to grade some tests or prepare at home, but if they've been teaching for years, generally they have it all down within 5 years and not much. Whatever extra time they spend is most certainly no more than anyone else with a white collar job and usually much, much less. As for retirement, I agree, retiring at 65 they probably get 60-70% of their last pay. As for contributing to that, they don't get forced into Social Security, so, they contribute mostly from what would have gone to SS, but for it they get a defined benefit, unlike the rest of us foreced in SS who will get 1/3 of the value, including not getting full value until late 60's and in a few year, probably 70's.

Of course they don't get FREE health care, but they get subsidized health care which is much more than the average Joe gets.

I'm not bashing teachers at all. I'm just pointing out "spare me" the "poor" teachers, they "don't get paid enough" lies. They get paid plenty and get a retirement and subsidized health care and, even though they are professionals, they are in a union and their jobs basically protected.
TBone

Sausalito, CA

#40 Feb 18, 2009
LOOKER wrote:
Teachers do have it pretty good with all that vacation time although they do spend time outside classroom hours on lesson plans etc. But many of us in other fields also do work outside normal hours and don't get paid for it.
Teachers have to put up with some of "those" parents. That's the tough part. I remember the time when a Mill Valley parent complained that the other children at the middle school were treating her daughter badly. It turns out that this parent was always telling her daughter how superior she was. No wonder the other kids didn't like her.
By the way when Mill Valley schools passed a new parcel tax, the ones who voted for it are saying, "Gee, too bad you lost your job and maybe your house, but I want homeowners who can pay for my kid's education."
I think the parents who voted for it (which is more than 66%) were actually saying: we want our childen to have a great educaiton system. Perhaps, that means people who lost their jobs and their homes can't afford it. Well, that's sad, but not everyone's problem. No one has a right to live here and yes, it is expensive. That's life.

Most people who lose their homes now, if it is not do to loss employment (and most are not), are losing it because they bought a house they can't afford and did so with non-fixed mortgage. I don't feel sorry for them at all. They should have bought a smaller home or in an area they could afford and shold not have used interest only or variable rates or option ARMs. They took a risk with their home, a speculative risk. One shouldn't do that with their home.
Lets be fair

San Jose, CA

#41 Feb 18, 2009
Come on Tbone, if it's such a great package why aren't you teaching? While I disagree with your earlier figuring of the annualized teacher's salary (they aren't making 113k, a point lost on HowTheyDoIt) and I think you're glossing over the fact that teachers have a very difficult and important job, I do agree with some of your points on merit vs. "hanging around" compensation to encourage more professionalism and better teaching. Change is slow to come in a system as huge as public education, but I think with the current economic situation and a growing public discussion of these issues an overhaul is coming.

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