Using Collective Bargaining as a Tool to Preserve Public Services in the Wake of State Fiscal Crises

By Randy Weingarten - April 7, 2011


I want to thank the Commonwealth Club for having me here today, to talk about innovative approaches to our fiscal challenges. And in thinking about those challenges, a story comes to mind. It’s not a scary campfire story about a very mean governor from Wisconsin, although that story is spine-chilling. It’s a story about a computer system.

A few years ago, the New York City Department of Education wanted to compile student information—and give parents and teachers access to it—using one computer system...

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"Action Steps" Can Help Mentors Inspire Others

By Kenneth Magdaleno - February 17, 2011

Recently I was in conversation with a friend who asked me about the “Two Minutes on Mentoring” that I used to send out on a monthly basis as Director of the CALSA (California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators) Administrator Mentoring Program.  We both missed reading (and writing) it, so I’ve decided to continue it as a regular feature of my role not only as the Director of the Mentoring program but also as Executive Director of the CALSA Center on Leadership, Equity, and Research...

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Publisher's Column

Where Has All The Teacher Bashing Gotten Us?

By Tahir Ahad - January 6, 2011

It was late September, just after the release of the movie “Waiting for Superman,” and CNBC was broadcasting its Education Week program. On NBC’s flagship show, “Meet the Press”, the host had a panel of people in Washington D.C. including, among others, federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan, along with Chancellor Michelle Rhee of the Washington, D.C. public schools, and American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten...

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The Costs of Heart Disease and Stroke Can Be Significantly Reduced By Daily Exercise

By Dr. Karen Vieira - December 16, 2010

Everyone knows someone who has died from complications related to coronary heart disease.  According to the American Heart Association, in 2006 over 81 million Americans were diagnosed with some form of heart disease.  It is the leading cause of death in the United States with over twice as many deaths reported than the next largest killer, cancer.

In addition, as reported by the American Diabetes Association, people diagnosed with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die of coronary heart disease than those without diabetes...

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The Healthcare Costs Associated With Cancer

By Dr. Karen Vieira - December 9, 2010

Being diagnosed with cancer turns a person’s world upside down.  Aside from the emotional stress for the patient and their family, there is also the financial stress that can linger for many years.  Cancer is a disease that is due to the uncontrolled growth, invasion and spreading of cells.  It can occur in any part of the body to anyone of any age.  The American Cancer Society found that in 2009, the most common forms of cancer were skin cancer and lung cancer...

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Poor Diet, Sedentary Habits Raise Risk of Diabetes

By Dr. Karen Vieira - December 2, 2010

Diabetes is the “greatest public health crisis of the 21st century,” according to Dr. Larry Deeb, past President of the American Diabetes Association. Currently more than 8% of the population of the United States (24 million people) cannot produce and/or use insulin to transfer sugar (glucose) from their blood into their cells where it can be converted into energy. As a result, glucose builds up to dangerously high levels in their blood, and they are eventually diagnosed with diabetes...

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It Takes a Country: The Evolving National Role in K-12 Education

By Gavin Payne - November 17, 2010

There was a time when education was almost entirely the purview of local school districts, often even school sites.  State and federal government barely got involved.

Then there was a time when education increasingly became the purview of state government.  In California, the state’s role became increasingly critical after passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 forced school districts to become more and more dependent on the state for funding...

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The High Cost of Obesity Can Be Controlled

By Dr. Karen Vieira - November 17, 2010

It seems like you can't read a magazine, open a newspaper or turn on the television without hearing about the obesity epidemic that is sweeping across the nation.  This is because as of 2008, one third of American adults were classified as obese, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics, meaning that they had a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30.  Of these, nearly 6% were considered morbidly obese, meaning that they had a BMI greater than or equal to 40...

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Districts Can Reduce the Cost of Chronic Disease

By Dr. Karen Vieira - November 11, 2010

Treating chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes costs billions of dollars in the United States each year, putting enormous financial stress on both the nation's health care system and private employers.  Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States, accounting for 75% of national health care expenditures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These diseases also severely limit the day-to-day lives of approximately 1 in 10 Americans....

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Districts Can Manage Healthcare Costs Through Programs Addressing Diabetes, Obesity, Cancer

By John Youngs - November 4, 2010

As the California economy continues to falter, our public schools are challenged with meeting educational standards while reducing costs.  Public school officials have modified or eliminated student programs, construction projects and updated curriculum.  Many districts have also turned to salary, staffing and healthcare benefit reductions.  While there is no immediate solution for the economic problems, we believe that public agencies can begin to create a downward trend in the costs associated with their employee benefit plans...

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Publisher's Column

Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Poizner's Education Plan: Some Ideas Worth Discussing

By Vernon Billy - May 20, 2010

A recent survey by the Public Policy Institute (PPIC) of California found that 74 percent of Californians say that “improving education should be a high priority for the next governor”.  Each of the gubernatorial candidates seemed to have gotten this message and have proposed various approaches to changing the state’s education system – including California Insurance Commissioner, Steve Poizner, one of two major Republican candidates for governor...

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Publisher's Column

I Got Mail From Meg Whitman, Did You?

By Vernon Billy - April 29, 2010

A few days ago I received a nice 8 ½x11 green envelope that prominently displayed an oversized return address of MEG 2010, Paid for Meg Whitman for Governor 2010.   I guess I was one of the lucky 500,000 Californians to receive a free copy of eMeg’s slick, green policy magazine, “Building A New California”.

As I began to thumb through the magazine, I couldn’t help but wonder if the green color of the envelope and magazine was a representation of the almost $60 million she’s contributed to her campaign.Back to the magazine...

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A Modest Proposal:

The Public Schools Entrepreneurial Initiative

By Roy Grimes, MPA, MBA, CGFM and Mariama Grimes, MPA - February 5, 2010

Should a school board and school district become more entrepreneurial? And just what is public school entrepreneurship, anyway?

The answer: It is forward possibility thinking. An entrepreneurial initiative springs from an innovative perspective with an eye toward sustainability, linked with a business model framework overlay, seeking to maximize real property and other asset usage.  The primary purposes are to enhance district revenue streams while positively impacting programmatic possibilities and academic outcomes...

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Four Concepts That Can Enhance Your District's School Board Leadership in the 21st Century

By Roy Grimes, MPA, MBA, CGFM - January 22, 2010

Some people believe that simply chairing a school board meeting is the essence of leadership.  In many cases, that belief would be quite to the contrary of common practice – running a successful meeting is seldom as easy as it may appear.  And for an elected body deeply involved in public education like a school board, essential concepts like “leadership,” “talent workers,” “customer care,” and “sustainable competitive advantage” are necessary and sufficient precepts which offer potential positive impacts for school board and school district direction, as well as favorable student and public outcomes...

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The Broken Piñata – A Cautionary Tale

By George H. Bloch, Ed.D. - January 15, 2010

As a kid, we always had a piñata at my birthday parties. As you know, once the piñata is broken, there is a mad dash to get all the goodies.  Try eating some candy with grass and sand on it.  I can personally tell you it is not very good. 

These childhood memories come to mind when I think of the dilemma currently faced by California educators.  The fiscal issues facing California schools over the next few months and years will test the very fabric of all school districts in the state...

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Hidden Budget Impacts School Programs

By Bob Blattner - December 5, 2008

At a time when California school districts are already reeling from dismal and uncertain State funding levels, many of the state's school systems will face an additional challenge in 2009-10 as a result of the underlying economic crisis which created the state's budget problems in the first place.

Because of plummeting value in their savings and retirement plans and home values, and the consequent collapse of their sense of economic security, many Americans are putting off retirement...

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Oh Where, Oh Where Did Our Flexibility Go?

By Bob Blattner - September 24, 2008

For those of you leafing through the Budget approved earlier this week in search of the categorical flexibility provisions proposed in May – just save yourself the effort.

None of the proposals – including increased "Mega" and "AB 825" transfer caps, access to restricted ending fund balances, reduced Routine Restricted Maintenance obligations, reduced AB 1200 reserve requirements – survived the Budget process...

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Flexibility Proposal at Risk

By Bob Blattner - June 2008

Following the bleakest Governor’s Budget in memory this past January, the May Revision that followed – while still severe – was a big improvement. This improvement was largely a result of increased revenue – most significantly, an increase of more than $800 million to provide a “zero” COLA instead of a “negative” COLA on the Revenue Limits. But the Revise also proposed a menu of flexibility options that districts could utilize in mitigating what is still a tough budget.

To be sure, flexibility measures such as those proposed in the May Revision can never take the place of adequate funding levels...

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