By Tom Ovens


Seventy-five or more Vallejo teachers filed in to Tuesday’s school board meeting. They presented a litany of classroom woes and a strong plea for higher pay. In addition to the teachers, there were several others from the community at large with similar storIes about unruly classrooms. The boardroom was packed to overflowing. The board members were quiet and seemed stunned at what they were hearing.

In the past when such complaints were made regarding classroom security, the board members have claimed the incidents were isolated cases or even fabrications. They could not so easily discount the barrage of horror stories that they were hearing on this evening.

The focal point of the teachers’ message was that teachers make a difference, not programs. The corresponding problem is that Vallejo does not have enough teachers. Scores of classes still have no permanent teacher and many substitutes do not have credentials in the subject they are teaching. It was pointed out that close to 100 teachers left the district this past year.


The teachers listed three reasons why Vallejo cannot attract and keep teachers:

  1. The pay is 10% lower than the next lowest paid district in the area;
  2. Classrooms are often unruly and even unsafe;
  3. Teachers are not valued or respected by the district.


The individual stories of teacher after teacher were gut wrenching. Some said they have been told not to suspend students who were out of control. Others told of providing necessary materials out of their own pocket because the materials were not available. Many who grew up in Vallejo and want to stay teaching here said they have to leave because they cannot support their families on what they are paid.

Very telling points were made such as that most districts devote 61% of their budget to teacher’s salaries while Vallejo devotes only 44%. While student population has declined since the year 2000, the number of administrators has increased. The board members were urged to do whatever is necessary to give the teachers a competitive salary. The district has a 3 ½ % reserve which is ½% beyond what is required. It was suggested that the ½% ,or any grant with only one year funding, be given as a one- time bonus. They insisted that experienced teachers, not lovely programs, are the key factor in getting to the root of and solving classroom problems. Great programs are nice but it’s the quality teacher that makes the difference.

One speaker said that Vallejo is not only losing teachers, it is losing students. It’s a matter of income. Families that have the means find other educational opportunities. Private schools are costly but an obvious choice for many, who sacrifice in many cases, in order to put their children into a more positive learning environment. That speaker’s assertion was echoed throughout the room when he said that families with children avoid moving to Vallejo because of our schools.

Feeling that they are honored as a person and that their opinions are valued, ranked high among the teachers. They said over and over that they do not feel heard and respected as professionals who have creative ideas and work beyond what is required under extremely trying conditions. Those trying conditions are sometimes out of control students. The board members were urged to put specially trained Resource Officers on campuses immediately.

More than one speaker expressed irritation about the 21 page booklet that is being widely distributed which presents the district as a wonderful model. It is filled with buzz words and beautiful glossy pictures. They said that the educational plan is great but the implementation is sorely lacking so the booklet is a gross distortion. One speaker insisted that the timing of the booklet suggested that it was put out as a campaign piece for the incumbents. His question about the cost of the booklet was met with a very vague response from the trustees.

The trustees and superintendent definitely got an earful. It could have been worse. No chairs or objects were thrown at them as the teachers insist is sometimes their experience in the classroom.


View the October 1, 2014 School Board Meeting:

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream


  1. October 2, 2014 @ 11:48 pm Salty Dog

    This Board is exquisitely ripe for change…. not just a tune up, but a full blown, comprehensive examination of PE delivery in Vallejo. Parents don’t feel important, teachers don’t feel valued, and predictably students vote with their feet (drop outs).

    This election is a perfect opportunity to enact change but it requires Board initiative and trustees determined to speak out and question the status quo.

    Status Quo: a five member board is too small to represent the values of a diverse community. Adding two members dramatically changes the dynamics of discussion.

    Status Quo: a single CEO to manage the complexities of PE is a pipe dream to leads to bad unintended consequences. . An added CFO responsible for budget,physical plant, non teaching staff divides the power and allows more focus and separation and monitoring of education and bean counting.

    Status Quo: The election of trustees is based on majority voting and lends itself to block or slate candidates. The switch to a zonal system will counter that and facilitate minority representation.

    Status Quo: Trustee Ace lays it on thick with his “we are team mates”. Well, it is difficult to feel that facing a straight row of tables and the backsides of six computers ( I know Solitaire is addictive…) For God’s sake, arrange the Board Room as a horseshoe and put the computers aside and try to look engaged.

    Status Quo:Yadayadyadayada……..Wilson……….Kick the bums out.

    Just sayin.


    • October 6, 2014 @ 8:39 pm Vallejo for Vallejo

      Salty Dog took a long time to come up with solutions. We thank him for that.

      Vallejo school board current member Hazel Wilson has hired friends and relatives including her son in many positions throughout the Vallejo City Unified School District. Typically, they rank as some type of director or administrator. Is it any wonder that VCUSD now has the highest paid administrators within the county? Nepotism and corruption abound. Yes, indeedy, it is time for a change. Throw the lying, cheating, double crossing phoney baloney bums out on their ears.
      Vote for change for the Vallejo School Board!! Also,please do the right thing and vote the measure E quarter of a billion dollar bond (property tax money) down with loud voices.
      Enough said already – enough!!!.


  2. October 3, 2014 @ 4:21 am Anonymous

    Time for big changes ……

    IN: Worel, Cayangyang, Loughmiller
    OUT: Wilson, Ubalde, Bishop


    • October 6, 2014 @ 8:48 pm Vallejo for Vallejo




  3. October 3, 2014 @ 9:11 am Wow!!!

    Wow, this is eye-popping. I couldn’t make it to the Board meeting, but I am soooo glad that teachers stood up for themselves — and for kids. Vallejo deserves so much better!

    I hope that Bishop and the current Board are listening. The data is so stark. How can they ignore it?


    • October 5, 2014 @ 9:37 am worthlessbishop

      Teachers have been standing up to the district for quite some time and have been sounding the alarm bells regarding Ramona and the Board for the past few years. I’m glad the community is starting to wake up to the destruction that is being caused by Ramona. Over two hundred teachers have left VCUSD in the past two years. The response from the trustees when questioned about this exodus of teachers were that they would be replaced by more effective teachers. That number would be higher, but teachers who are seeking to leave close to the start of the school year or even after the school year has started are having their resignations rejected.

      I hope the current incumbents are voted out of office in November. They need to be sent packing as does Ramona. I’m sure there are several hundred teachers who will help her back her bags! Just know that Alana Shackelford seems to be convinced she’s the heir apparent to the superintendent position. She absolutely does not care for teachers at all.


  4. October 3, 2014 @ 9:40 am Bong Hit

    If people think the classrooms are unruly now, just wait and see what happens if the progressive democrats get voted out of power and the country makes the right decision to roll back the suicidal policies of the white house dunce. What you will see is savage behavior by blacks in this country that we once thought only occurred in third world African countries. Traitors like Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Ramona Bishop, Eric Holder, Barrack Obama et. al. will sanction the violence calling it “justified” and cite white oppression as the reason your innocient children deserve to be beaten like dogs.


  5. silasbarnabe

    October 3, 2014 @ 7:05 pm silasbarnabe

    What an embarrassment! Why has not Mel Jordan been fired?


  6. October 3, 2014 @ 7:55 pm Publicus

    The issues started back with President Johnson’s Great Society not with Barack. It is the “unintended consequences” effect. Providing subsidized housing and food stamps seems so humane and Christian. And Unions seem so wonderful. But anytime a group can develop enough power at the ballot box, they can take over the public purse. And now that all seems an absolute right…like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have public employee unions demanding salaries that cannot be covered by revenues and an underclass who can’t stand up without help. I can’t imagine how Vallejo can survive this. I know that wealthy communities like Marin, the Peninsula, our northern neighbors and the East Bay minimize the social drag of underclass communities by making it just too expensive for them to live there and can cover those public employee salaries with the increased tax base. The answer is regional property tax allocation where the rich communities chip in to poor communities… Never happen.


  7. October 4, 2014 @ 12:52 am Iñigo

    Brave teachers for speaking up. I was half expecting someone to do an Alaskan Newscaster bit, as in “F**k it, I quit” during a live broadcast.


  8. October 4, 2014 @ 10:01 am Bong Hit

    I listened to the impassioned pleas of the senior teachers again, thanks Marc for providing the video. The saddest thing to me is these pleas are just blowin in the wind without fundamental political change in this country. As a nation we should shut down the federal department of education, cut federally mandated programs and give the states and local school districts the freedom to thrive or fail. Can you imagine the immediate improvement in Vallejo if we were able to cut the administrative overhead and re purpose the savings into teacher salaries and supplies? This scenario just CAN NOT happen with democrats in power. democrats must hold the education industry hostage and extract their bounty from the taxpayers and use that stolen treasure to perpetuate the power grab. USELESS paper weight jobs far away from the children and classrooms are the norm in this corrupt education system.

    We’re out of money folks, sorry to say we’ve bankrupted this country by bad decision making from the republicans and democrats in Washington DC. We need to cut overhead in all public systems. This will not happen with Washington DC involved in education. democrats, you must sit out this election. It’s critical to the survival of this country. Progressive liberal democrats in Washington have removed all doubt that they are incompetent. They can’t even create a reasonable school lunch menu! And that’s just the tip of their disastrous ice berg. They are so inept, they put themselves in grave danger with their politically correct nonsense. The first family is being guarded by female secret security agents that are easily over powered by intruders? Seriously folks, these people need to be flushed from the body politic. They are losers. Help us vote them OUT!


  9. October 4, 2014 @ 9:27 pm Salty Dog

    OK, a lot of spilled ink on this topic (public education) to which I have added more than my share of opinion.
    It’s an important issue if, as many believe, the schools are underachieving and the organization is dysfunctional. Choosing the right candidate is crucial and it only takes one firebrand to ignite the Board and cause leadership to happen.

    I endorse Worel. I have watched him at Council, laughed at his shirts, and disagreed with his polemic opinion. But, he is an in your face firebrand that the Board sorely needs to kick start them into Board and ed reform. The others appear a bit too milquetoasty for my taste. But, if any can offer any substantive reform, love to hear it.


    • SilasBarnabe

      October 5, 2014 @ 10:25 am SilasBarnabe

      @Salt I would like to hear Worel’s plan of reform….also I have asked repeatedly for someone, anyone to post some of his accomplishments in the 8 years he already served and nothing.


      • October 5, 2014 @ 10:37 am Salty Dog

        I also would like to see some sign or recognition of a plan. The problem may well be that none of the candidates have a plan or even recognize the need for substantive reform or an understanding of a means to facilitate change.

        I advocate for Worel only because he appears to exhibit some dogged determination…a first prerequisite. He has yet to share how he would “do what is best for kids”.


        • SilasBarnabe

          October 5, 2014 @ 4:04 pm SilasBarnabe

          @ Salt One major concern is that Worel endorses Measure E and will not comment on measure A that has 14 years left to repay with the same repairs allegedly accomplished that measure e is asking for. Worel says he will hold the bored accountable, if that is the case then why is not the last bord’s held accountable including himself?


          • October 6, 2014 @ 9:54 pm Salty Dog

            I don’t favour any bond measure that is susceptible to “creep”. Given the District’s poor financial record, I would want some mechanism that would guarantee funds are targeted and monitored appropriately.

            The establishment of a duel CEO with the addition of a CFO is one such strategy, reporting back to the Board at EACH public meeting. As well, the CFO would by responsible for contract negotiations, physical plant and monitoring all budget items.

  10. October 5, 2014 @ 3:45 am wharf rat

    Well stated Salt , yes three dynamic firebrands would be ideal , however the job pay’s little and the hours conflict with normal work schedules … One shining star in this quagmire of dis-function is MITA , it is no doubht that the entrenched ADMIN crowd would like these boat rockers to just go away , after all they are really screwing up the numbers , what with their high Educational performance and a take no prisoners approach to PE .. Their graduation rate is an embarasment to the rest of the district and frankly places many of
    our PHD ADMIN Staff in the sandbox and fingerpainting category …. Watching the School board BACKPEDAL after MAT Smith spelled out the reality and facts/ ramifications of screwing 800 families out of any potential measure E monies all while they will have to pay for it , finally got through to them … Wonder if Ramona is IM or e mailing throughout the meetings —- when he stated his desire to purchase a facility instead of renting He so eloquently stated ‘we dont want this marriage to go on forever’ WHO CAN BLAME HIM … District admin must hate this guy as he has the audacity to continue to be a high performer as are his Students and Staff , essentially working in a facility/physical plant not much more than a hovel …
    When the highest performing Educational organisation is excluded from one dime of measure E money I will not only not vote for it but will refuse to pay one dime towards it if it passes … There are numerous legal precedents to support this , in a nutshell it is blatant discrimination on so many levels far beyond Ramona’s ability to spin …. Discrimination against success is a fools errand
    and could very well torpedo the measure E fiasco , too bad we do not have a ballot measure to build this exceptional School a real campus , that I could vote for ………..


  11. October 5, 2014 @ 7:33 am wharf rat

    Measure E will probably fail ….. The district went for the max money instead what the Community could afford , they want 230 million
    dollars … We are still paying off measure A on our property tax bills , and renters pay as well ‘IT IS A COMPONENT OF YOUR RENT’
    every one in Vallejo pays their fair share , had they gone for the lower amount , that required a 51%vote there might have been some hope …. As it stands Our highest performing School has been ELIMINATED FROM ANY MEASURE ‘E’ FUNDING , this is not by accident , it just happens to be a Charter School , that has the best outcomes of the entire district , it is the Mare Island Technology Academy …. School board and Admin , just cant handle this recalicantrant rebbel , with their great numbers , they perceive it as a threat ….


  12. October 5, 2014 @ 7:59 am Anon

    Even school board trustee Waterman, who once boasted that her daughter will always be in VCUSD, is now thinking of homeschooling her. What happened to the nicely claimed Vallejo Charter School? It is a dependent school , which means that has been dictated by the whims of the administration of VCUSD. The parents who devoted their time and energy have left for Mare Island Technology, Benicia , homeschool, and American Canyon. Vallejo Charter’s motto was “we are crew, not passengers.” Well, Waterman knows that her daughter ‘s school is sinking. Many of its teachers have quit. The good crew have sailed off to better vessels, leaving a swarthy and unmannered lot to stir that ship to hell. When Waterman withdraws her own kid, you know it is the end. Goodbye Vallejo Charter, VCUSD had torpedoed you.


    • October 5, 2014 @ 11:38 am Anon

      Read Waterman’s blog “muddy feet memoirs”. She admits that her daughter deserves a better education.


      • October 6, 2014 @ 11:56 pm wharf rat

        Waterman has dealt with enough , the loss of a Family-member — A Husband is devastating , She soldered up as a School board member and a Parrent , Her Commitment is Remarkable , considering Her tragic loss of a loving Husband to Cancer , an ailment we could cure if we just spent a small portion of the monies , that we spend on Killing each other to actually cure this condition …. Cancer is a big business as is Warfare …. Perhaps someday We will get our prioraties together and become an evolved Society…..


        • October 7, 2014 @ 7:04 am Anon

          No denying her loss, and sympathies out to her family. But, she was condescending at meetings, and there is no excuse for that. If her emotions got the better of her, then she should have stepped down. I was t a meeting a few years ago. Two nice VHS students did a presentation. Instead of complementing them, she berated them for VHS for voting on a site outside of Vallejo to hold their prom. WTF lady? Does she spend her time 100 percent in Vallejo? Most proms are held outside the home city, it is their memory, they can vote on having their prom in Marin or SF. Again, yes, we all have to deal with deaths in our family, but doesn’t excuse us from being unethical in our jobs. She was not exactly miss congeniality to Mare Island Technology Academy when we were trying to get the space at Springstown Middle. She voted in favor of her daughter’s school, Vallejo Charter School. She should have ethically recluse herself from voting.


  13. October 7, 2014 @ 1:47 pm Patrick Henry

    So, gentle citizens, taxpayers, property owners and productive members of society. If you fork over $150 per $100,000 of assessed valuation every year to give these malicious thieves $239 million of borrowed money, all the problems will go away and Vallejo’s children will be splendidly educated, productive and responsible adults. This is government logic. Just shut-up and pay. It’s for the children.


  14. October 12, 2014 @ 12:36 pm Melissa Bowman

    Regarding textbooks…wouldn’t it make more sense to have the print copies at home and the electronic copies on devices at school?


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