Don’t reward teachers for students’ poor performance
Several months ago, this paper printed the testing results across California schools showing Ojai Unified School District underperforming significantly.
Students are “graduating” with little ability to read, write or do arithmetic.
Perhaps the public doesn’t understand that due to “step and column” in their contracts, teachers typically get more money every year that they are employed by a district, whether an additional raise is negotiated or not.
Teachers don't like to call step-and-column increases a raise, but what else is it if you receive more income than you did the prior year? Most working folks would call that a raise!
Perhaps the teachers’ union should be more focused on student learning and education before getting more money for poor performance.
John M. Gray — Ojai
Ojai missed opportunity to unify school districts
Groups of Nordhoff students stood at the “Y” with signs supporting their teachers’ petition for a raise. They are to be commended for their efforts and interest. However, their concerns are enmeshed in politics beyond their control.
Let me comment:
In the 1950s, there were minimal administrative controls and the California Education code was a single book.
There were 12 school districts in this area, some very wealthy and some desperately poor like Ojai Elementary and Nordhoff Union High School. Just down the road were small districts in the huge Ventura oil fields with high “assessed valuations.”
In the 1950s, I did a study of the 12 school districts that comprised the now Ventura Unified School District and the Ojai Unified School District. Working under the University of Southern California’s Master’s program and with the advice of Ventura County’s assistant superintendent, the study and analysis recommended that all of the 12 districts from Ventura and Ojai could benefit financially and academically through unification into one district.
Instead, Ojai was unified without the rich oil-field, refinery, and other economic enterprises that form a beneficial tax base. The small, rich districts in “assessed valuation” stayed together. Ojai remained poor in “assessed valuation” and Ventura Unified absorbed the wealthy small districts.
My mentor in the Ventura County schools office had stressed that Ojai was essentially a bedroom community of Ventura and would continue to have stressful finances due to low “assessed valuations.”
Failure to unify the Ventura and Ojai school districts has left Ojai forever poor in “assessed valuation” and academic offering. And, part of the blame rests with elements in the Ojai community that were so prideful of being “a very special place” and not a part of an industrial base.
David Pressey — Ojai
Where are OUSD board’s priorities?
As a former longtime teacher at Meiners Oaks Elementary School, a parent of a student who went from kindergarten through 12th grade in Ojai Unified School District, and a current taxpayer in Ojai, I am shocked and saddened that OUSD is offering from 9% to 20% raises to top administrators and administrative assistants, and less than a 3% raise to our treasured teachers, who work long, dedicated hours educating and nurturing our precious children.
Our Ojai teachers’ salaries are at the absolute bottom of Ventura County school districts’ salaries. Many of our teachers can’t afford to live in our community. You are giving large raises to the administrators, who don’t interact with our students, but not to the teachers? Where are your priorities?
Karen Courington — Ojai
Don’t sign petition to overturn drilling setbacks
Once again, the fossil-fuel industry is trying to protect its huge profits at the expense of public health by overturning setbacks, a policy that would protect frontline communities from oil-drilling pollution. Just days after Senate Bill 1137 was signed into state law establishing science-based health zones around oil wells, the oil industry filed a referendum to undo this long-awaited and hard-fought environmental justice win.
DON’T SIGN it! Last week, the effort received its first major financial contribution and the industry is already blaming setbacks for everything from high gas prices to a total energy crisis. They will likely spend millions in the coming months buying signatures to get setback repeal on the ballot.
Oil companies are raking in record profits at our expense — poisoning communities, harming the climate and manipulating the market to charge Californians more at the pump. Let’s cut this off at your local supermarket where the paid gatherers are sitting.
Please, in the name of environmental justice, do not sign the petition.
John Brooks — Oak View
Stop the Ojai election insanity!
Please consider Voting YES on Measures L and M. If you live in the city of Ojai, read the last pages in the County Voter Information Guide with the Arguments and Rebuttals for Measures L and M.
Measure L allows the city to go back to five City Council members with a rotating mayor, each member serving a four-year term. No more divisive and expensive battles every two years for the elected mayor position!
Measure M simply allows the council to hold public hearings to consider adopting at-large Ranked Choice Voting when it is legally feasible to do so.
I helped put these two measures on the ballot. A rotating mayor selected by all five councilmembers is not a perfect system, but it will help avoid the divisive election insanity we are witnessing now.
Suza Francina — Ojai
(The writer is a member of the Ojai City Council, serving her third term.)
Support strong climate action
As one of the many climate activists here in the Ojai Valley, I am encouraged to see the current conversation about climate in the upcoming Ojai City Council election.
For years now, local climate activists have advocated for strong climate action in the city of Ojai, including the declaration of a climate emergency, the implementation of Clean Power Alliance renewable electricity, policies to convert city vehicles and facilities to all-electric, building code changes for new buildings to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and lower the costs of construction, electrification of landscape equipment, installation of solar-energy systems, and planting trees to sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
It is clear that a focus on climate also leads to benefits for disaster preparedness, water supply, indoor and outdoor air quality, and reducing the costs of housing and other buildings. Ojai has already done much, but there is more to do. Being ground zero for the effects of climate change, Ojai should set the example as a strong climate-action city. The next step is electing a council that has a strong commitment to climate action.
Ojai voters have choices in November. While all candidates who support climate action are encouraged, I have been particularly impressed with the platforms of the following candidates and their strong commitments to consider climate in all decisions. I support and endorse:
Betsy Stix – mayor. Michelle Pineiro – District 1. Rachel Lang – District 2. Andrew Whitman – District 3.
Phil White — Ojai
Renee Roth knows the environment
I have known Renee Roth and her husband, Randy, for a few years. When she became a candidate for City Council, District 3, I got to know her in-depth.
If you are concerned about “climate change” effect on the environment, she should be your candidate — as she is mine. One “hat” that she wears is of an environmental educator. Renee can view problems and needs with a systems approach: view all the parts and how they fit or should fit together.
Renee and husband have lived here the past 22 years. One day, her young daughter came home from school very sick. That triggered a lifelong engagement with the environment, as the cause of her daughter’s illness was pesticide use on school grounds.
She became a member of the school’s Green School Committee. She successfully wrote a school grant for funding (native plant garden) from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife department.
She sees her work as environmental sustainability. Organizations she has been involved with are: Ojai Garden Club; G3-Green Garden Group; Systems, Sustainable Landscapes, where Renee is a certified trainer; Ventura River Watershed Council representing Ojai Valley Green Coalition; Sweetwater Collaborative; and Surfrider Ocean Friendly Garden Program.
Renee’s education includes a degree in Environmental Horticulture and Landscape Design and a degree in Planning, Public Policy and Administration.
Renee brings environmental, community involvement and government know-how to this election. I strongly support Renee Roth.
Bill Miley — Ojai
Vote Betsy Stix for mayor
We support Ojai Mayor Betsy Stix in the election for mayor of Ojai.
At this late stage, if we want to save the world, we should vote only for those who make fighting climate change their No. 1 issue. The days are gone when progressive establishment candidates like Anson Williams who have not made climate change their priority deserve support.
Their laxity is one of the reasons we have today’s climate crisis, which has put the world at its most perilous point of destruction in history.
Betsy Stix, the present mayor of Ojai, was the first ardent environmentalist to be elected mayor of this city. Virtually nobody kew who she was when she came out of nowhere to win two years ago.
The establishment was shocked.
They did not understand that their values were not the values of the people. Ordinary Ojai citizens are deeply worried about climate change and instinctively support candidates who share that concern.
Among other policies, Ms. Stix has promoted three in particular that resist climate change.
From Day One, she has fought the presence of fossil fuels in the valley and has concentrated on introducing alternative energy sources to the valley.
She has also resisted unnecessary development in the valley, including the cutting down of trees.
She was the only City Council member to vote against the massive profit-seeking development of the Cottages Among the Flowers, one of the oldest and largest affordable housing residences in Ojai.
Our whole city now has to rely on the wisdom and judgement of Betsy Stix.
Clive and Marion Leeman — Ojai
Vote Williams for mayor
In a wonderful display of community interest and solidarity, more than 300 people packed Matilija Auditorium on Oct. 16 to see the screening of “Rebuilding Paradise,” hear from Ron Howard, get information on fire resiliency from the Fire Safe Council, and on efforts to combat climate change from Let’s Green CA!
Anson Williams, deeply committed to combating climate change and protecting our city from fire, echoed the people of Paradise when he said, “We need to solve problems and challenges together.” Community was key to rebuilding Paradise, and it has been Anson Williams’ theme since he began his run for mayor. The town council in Paradise admitted it had not done enough before the Camp Fire. Let’s not make that mistake. Let’s elect councilmembers and a mayor who will emphasize collaboration and community involvement.
We are stronger together.
Robin Gerber — Ojai