Wednesday, June 10, 2009


The last day of school is usually exciting. Teachers are typically thrilled to start summer vacation. For the most part, it was exciting. However, it was also hard for many of us at EDMS because over a dozen teachers here are entering summer vacation not knowing if they will have a job next school year. 16 of our teachers received final layoff notices. Only 4 were rescinded. And of the remaining 12 final layoff notices, a few of them were already informed they would not have a job next school year.

With regards to our movement, we wanted to take a moment to post a final thank you to EDMS staff and our community, for joining in unity over the course of four months.

Special thanks to Theresa Harrington, Radar, Senator Mark DeSaulnier, Lia Muñoz, and Lynne Shields.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Our trip to Sacramento yesterday was a huge success!

We were able to take 5 students and 5 teachers onto the senate floor when they went into session. After the prayer and the pledge, Senator Mark DeSaulnier introduced us to the senate while the other teachers, parents, and family members watched from the gallery. We sat in on the senate session and experienced our state lawmaking process in action (much more casual than we expected). Sen. DeSaulnier knelt down beside us for much of the time talking to us about the process and his views. After about an hour, we left the floor and went into a hallway outside where the senator listened while the teachers, parents, and students shared their experiences with the recent budget cuts to education:

- Mr. Cuizon introduced our group and the intention of our visit; we were there to impress upon him, and other lawmakers, how important educational funding is and to implore them to consider our stories when in the process of making laws and balancing the budget.
- Ms. Machado spoke about the effect on our own school and how it felt to have a pink slip served and then rescinded.
- Ms. Adler told her story of multiple status changes and the uncertainty she has been dealing with for months now.
- Mrs. Hood shared the story of her and her husband's loss of employment in the district and the effect it is having on their family.
- Mrs. Murphy talked about the journalism class and their activism, as well as the feeling of being a non-pink slipped teacher and the fight she felt she needed to be a part of for her friends and colleagues.
- Mrs. Eitzel spoke of feelings and concerns that our students' parents are going through due to the cuts in funding. She mentioned a serious concern for the future and safety of MDUSD's students if the program and personnel cuts go through.
- Our 5 students took turns sharing their letters and thoughts very eloquently (making us all very proud).

Senator DeSaulnier listened to us all and spoke to our group at the end. He shared his concerns and urged the students to stay active. We then handed over the letters/DVD the students of EDMS wrote and created for him and thanked him for his time as he headed back to the floor of the senate.

Next, our group took our message to the office of another local lawmaker, CA Assemblyman Tom Torlakson. He too was in session at the time, but his Chief of Staff Richard Zeiger welcomed our (unannounced) visit and took a great deal of time to talk to our group about the current state crisis and the importance of our kids' diligence in staying active and informed. We dropped off letters and asked him to forward our message to Asm. Torlakson.

Finally, we took the students' letters which were addressed to the governor down to Arnold Schwarzenegger's office. Mr. Cuizon went in and delivered them to the governor's secretary.

It was a great day due to the help of the amazing staff in Mark DeSaulnier's office. Thank you to Lia Muñoz and Lynne Shields especially. You have made our movement here in Concord feel important and meaningful on a larger level and we appreciate the work you're doing.

Thanks also to the amazing parents of our 7th graders. Your children are a reflection of your passion and integrity and I'm sure you are deeply (and justifiably) proud of the people they have become.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


We want to take a moment to thank everyone for their support over the past 9 weeks. For many of us, it was viewed as a positive movement during a time of uncertainty in California education.

Special thanks to EDMS staff, Concord communtiy members, Theresa Harrington, and Radar.

We will not be meeting on Friday mornings, as we are shifting our focus to the trip with students and parents to Sacramento on June 1st when our kids will be introduced on the senate floor.

Monday, May 18, 2009


The EDMS crowd has been making noise and the community is listening...

Within the past few days we have had our school’s name, and pictures of the 16-chair protest, mentioned in multiple publications, both in print and online. We offer an enormous "thank you" to journalist Katy Murphy for covering our story.

Not only are we getting the media to take notice, but our lawmakers are getting our message as well. California Senator Mark DeSaulnier will be HERE, on the sidewalk, with us THIS FRIDAY, May 22nd! We would like to welcome all parents, friends, and community members to come this Friday between 7:30 and 8:00 am and meet the senator as he joins in our effort to protect our local schools.

Copy and paste the following URL to find out more about our local senator:{F4C28201-379D-44AD-AC25-67FD48576284}

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

413 MORE

In addition to the positions that were cut back in March, 413 teachers were cut during the board meeting last night. Thoughts? Comments?

Friday, May 8, 2009


We are only a week and a half away from the May 19th election, which holds so much of the fate of our schools in its hands. Even before that day, will be May 15th, bringing with it the looming layoff notices that will be delivered to our teachers and staff. Now more than ever we should remain vigilant and let our voices be heard.

Two new developments this week:

#1 - We have been in contact with Senator DeSaulnier's office and were given a tentative date for the senator to visit our school for a Friday Rally! He is planning on coming out in 2 weeks (May 22nd) to join us on the streets. His support, and the support of the amazing people working with him, have been a huge boost during this disturbing time.

#2 - We have set up a row of 16 chairs along Concord Blvd. in front of El Dorado; each one representing a teacher who was given a pink slip in March. Each chair has a sign attached to it that says "One Teacher Lost." The effect of this display is powerful. The chairs and signs are left lining the sidewalk throughout the school day with the hope that a larger crowd will be exposed to the ideas we have been spreading on Friday mornings. If you get a chance next Friday, drive by and take in the silent protest of the cuts threatening nearly half of the teaching staff here at EDMS.

Check out this week's slideshow to the right to view pictures of the chairs.

Friday, May 1, 2009


The photo above is from the Concord Transcript on 4/30. You can see Nancy and James. If you view the photo, you can also read what they had to say about our demonstrations. Thank you CC Times and Concord Transcript.

United States Senator Barbara Boxer sent a personalized response to a letter written to her about the situation here in the MDUSD. She acknowledged the efforts here and assured us that she will keep our views in mind when law makers are discussing this issue.

Our very own Tom Henneberry (Mr. T) submitted the following letter to CC Times which was published. Great job Tom!

As a concerned parent of two boys educated in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, I am appalled at the budget cuts imposed on the districts' teachers and other staff.

These cuts have distressed teachers and parents. It seems teachers have become the scapegoats for the failed policies of the state government.

Every teacher, student and staff member deserve all the support our community can muster in voting yes on Measure D in May.

The budget cuts deny our students a quality education, and undermine the dedicated work of the educators providing it. This penny-wise, pound-foolish philosophy has to stop.

Our elected officials must get their priorities straight for the future of our country, which rests in the hands of our children. Wholesale staff reductions and larger class sizes do not provide a solution.

Teachers ask only for a fair shake — for the opportunity to earn a living wage — and to create a positive environment for their students.

With public school education in crisis, it is time to draw a line in the sand. It is vital that we restore this institution to its rightful place in our society, and stop the shortsightedness before it is too late.

Tom Henneberry

Saturday, April 25, 2009


There have been some exciting developments over the past week for our “Support Local Schools” movement…

- Governor Schwarzenegger sent a personalized response to a letter written to him about the situation here in MDUSD. He acknowledged the efforts here and the frustration being felt by school employees.

- Our Friday Demonstration was not only well attended by the staff of EDMS (as always, you rock), but also present were two new supporters (pictured above): Sean Bristol, a De La Salle High School teacher, and Lia Muñoz, a District Representative for Senator Mark DeSaulnier! District Representative Muñoz stood with us and talked to the teachers about the crisis we are facing. She is looking into setting up a time for a few staff, parents, and students of EDMS to deliver letters to law makers in Sacramento. There could also be an opportunity for us to meet Senator Mark DeSaulnier.

Thank you to both of them for joining us on a cold morning to help get the word out that the cuts to our educational system are not okay!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Welcome back from break!

Here at the EDMS pink slip and budget cuts headquarters we have a few things in the works for the first week back:

#1 - Back to School Night: We will be demonstrating out in front of the school before the evening kicks off. Come join us by handing out flyers to the parents and families of the very kids we are fighting for. We will be there from 6 - 6:30 pm.

#2 - Friday Demonstration: We will meet at the usual time and location to represent for the cause once again this Friday. If you are taking part in the RIF hearings, please come join us before you go!

#3 - MDUSD Video Fundraiser: A local man, and parent of an MDUSD student, is going to be filming a children's action film to help raise money for our district's sports and music programs. Check out the site and support this positive effort by pre-ordering the video! The link is in the Related Websites section on the bottom right. When you go to the page, click on the eBay PayPal icon then click on "Buy It Now." You will be prompted to sign in with your eBay account info.

#4 - Contact Your Legislators: Take a few minutes some time this week to email the folks who are making the decisions that we are struggling against. Tell them about our district and the bleak future we are facing due to unfair cuts in education. There is a link on the right that can put you in contact with our law makers.

As always, we thank you all for the support and effort you have put forth. Together we make a difference.

Friday, April 10, 2009


We have officially reached the four-week mark since Pink Friday. Although we are still worried about what next year (and the future beyond) will hold, there are reasons to feel positive about the impact our efforts have had.

With this in mind, we just wanted to take a moment to mention what we all have accomplished:

- The teachers of El Dorado have joined together each Friday morning for demonstrations.
- There are currently 24 dedicated followers of our site.
- This site has received over 3000 hits.
- EDMS and the efforts here have been the focus of 3 news spotlights- with the prospect of more to come…
- The posts here have received 95 comments.
- There were 117 comments on the site in reaction to the post about our demonstration.

Thank you to all of the reporters and photographers who have come out to cover our efforts.


Have a great week off and check back for updates after the break.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


This Sunday's Contra Costa Times ran an article on the first page of the "East Bay" section written by Theresa Harrington. In the article, about the state budget cuts, El Dorado is mentioned, our blog is mentioned, and the fabulous Wendy Murphy is quoted!

We have stood up for what we believed to be an injustice and have been recognized. Well done all!

Here's the part about us:

Across town, nearly half of El Dorado Middle School's teachers could be out of jobs next year.

This knowledge has created a sense of instability, leading El Dorado employees to create a "support local schools" blog and to rally every Friday morning at Concord Boulevard and West Street.

"The times are uncertain," seventh-grade teacher Wendy Murphy wrote on the blog. "Tension is high and morale is low. ... My students are constantly asking questions about what will happen next year and sharing their concerns with me."

To view the full article, go to Contra Costa Times, Sunday, April 5th in the Contra Costa County Section. Title: "District budget cuts hit faculty -- and students"


California’s latest $11 billion cut to schools and colleges is the state’s largest single budget cut ever made to public education. $11BILLION! What is the message this sends? The value Sacramento places on educators and school programs is now painfully clear. Are we held in such low regard as to deserve these cuts by the thousands? Has our state decided to completely check out of the business of educating our children?

As a society, we need to send our own message: It is not acceptable to treat our profession with such little respect. We deserve better. What we do is vitally important and our educational system is not where you start the process of cutting government spending. As a community, state, and country we talk quite a bit about how we want to not only compete, but lead on a global scale. We want the future of our country to not only support us but to make us proud with their innovations and ingenuity. If we take away the tools they need to develop, how can we expect them to soar?

Skimping on the foundation is never a good plan.


Denise Hood, a 6th grade Resource Specialist, recently spoke at an MDUSD Board Meeting. Denise and her husband James both work at El Dorado and are among the people we fight for, as they have both been given notice that they will not be offered a position in our district next year. Here are a few highlights of her speech:

“Good Evening Superintendent Nicoll, President Eberhart, and Board members - My name is Denise Hood and I am involved with the district on many levels. I am an alumni of the district who attended K-12 and graduated from Mount Diablo High School. I have two children who both attend Concord High School. Both my husband and I have been affected by the recent notices of precautionary action. It is scary for all who received this notice but you can only imagine how scary it is to have both of your household incomes on standby. I am on the schools leadership team, the PFC, co-chair of the 6th grade team, master scheduling committee and am the academic coach for the after-school program, I spend hours upon hours at my site and have poured my heart and soul into my school and my students for the past 9 years. The possibility of leaving is breaking my heart…

As a teacher and a parent in the district, I feel this is the time when we have to stand together and fight back. We have to say “Enough is Enough” and protect our children. They are our future and these cuts will seriously impact their education and their safety…

I know that tonight you will be discussing the priority list of items that should be on the Tier 1 and Tier 2 lists when the parcel tax is passed. There are two items that I specifically want to mention tonight.

The first is the teacher ratio that was increased at a board meeting earlier this year. This makes class sizes larger and offers less supervision on every level.

The second is Daytime Custodial Supervisors. Ours has been with our site for 18 years. He is our flag football coach, basketball coach, and a mentor to every student on our campus. I have never heard him say a negative word about anyone. On the day he found out his position had been eliminated he was repeatedly found comforting crying staff members when he was the one that lost his job. He is a true gentlemen and a gift to our site. He is on constant watch for our students’ safety… For those of us on sites every day we can not imagine how we will function without this very important position.

Thank you for your time and please visit our blog spot and join our rallies and our effort to be active in the fight against the state budget cuts.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


The times are uncertain. 600 plus teachers and staff throughout the Mt. Diablo Unified School District are losing their jobs. 43% of the staff at El Dorado Middle School have been given pink slips. Tension is high and morale is low. The staff at El Dorado are not the only ones feeling the effects of this budget crisis. Our students are feeling the effects as well. My students are constantly asking questions about what will happen next year and sharing their concerns with me. I think it is important that their voices be heard. These children are not only students, they are the future. Here is what they have to say.

Wendy Murphy
7th Grade Core Teacher
El Dorado Middle School

I feel that the government really doesn't care about our education ight now. Chances are that if we don’t have electives and other classes, colleges won’t accept us. Most people want the people that work for them to be educated. For example, parents want their child's teachers to know about what they are teaching. Also, they want the people who work on their cars to know what the problem is and how to fix it. If we don’t have electives, or we can't get into a good college, we wiLl not be able to learn the right things to complete our jobs.


My opinion on the crisis we have in California is that by cutting eachers, electives, libraries etc. is bad. Without some electives, your entrance into college is lower. That affects me because I want to get a good job and have a good life. Another thing is, when you cut out an elective the classes available will decrease, be more boring, and attract less interest. Sports are what helps you get into college also. Libraries are a big issue too because you need to do research. Most teachers use the library. The uses are for reading, research, projects, etc. Cutting all this stuff could cause more delinquency too. Social skills are important in life. We need stuff like this for our future.


What we face at school in these times are far worse than back in the day of our parents' education. No, I'm not talking about violence, I'm talking about budget cuts. Yeah, schools are losing money. Remember money?? You know, the coins and bills with a cash value? Comes in handy once in a while. Well, schools already won’t have a lot of it and we, the schools, are seeing more money fly out the window. Teachers are getting pink slips, which means they are losing their jobs. Not as in getting "fired", but as in getting laid off. But don’t think that it is only affecting teachers because it's not. Students, the future of America, are a big part of it.
Losing electives, teachers, and sports are some of the ways that students are suffering. Being a student myself, I know how bad this is. Yeah, really bad. Muy malo, comprende? I'm not gonna take force, but listen this once. SOS! Save Our Schools!!


Even in 7th grade, students are thinking about their future. Unfortunately, though, our future is murky. The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is making numerous cuts to schools. Electives that are available one year may not be the next. Features such as
libraries and computer labs may disappear. The California budget crisis is greatly affecting schools, teachers, and their students. Recently over 600 teachers in the district received pink slips. To compensate for the lower number of staff, class sizes may rise, greatly affecting students and teachers. Electives that teach students skills that others don’t may be cut. High School sports may not be available next year, which eliminates scholarship opportunities. Cutting electives may affect student attendance
rates. For some kids, electives are their initiative to go to school. Without elective courses, their may be an increase in drop-outs and absences which cause the district money. If class sizes increase, students may also be affected. A larger class can be more difficult to control. A teacher may not have as much time to help struggling students.
If these cuts continue, what will be left of our schools? Will students only be learning the basics (english, science, math, history)? Kids are the future. Is this how we are being prepared?


I think that schools cutting down on sports is going to effect me a lot. It will effect me because I am good at basketball and I will rely on basketball to get me a scholarship. This will help me get into college. If they cut out sports in high school, then it's
going to be a lot harder for me to get a better education. This will affect my future tremendously.


It would be very sad if the library, electives, and sports are cut next year. Everyday I come to school I may not look forward to math or science, but I to look forward to learning more spanish and writing articles. I bet a lot of kids love their electives like I do mine. If the electives are cut out then lots of students, like myself, would lose interest in coming to school and that would lead to more dropouts. If the library is cut out I don’t know how I would be able to do reports and other things like that. My mom doesn't take me to the public library and I don’t have time for that anyways. I don’t think I'm the only one who can use a library only during school. If the sports are cut out of high school then a lot of kids would be devastated. Some students don’t have that many book smarts so they depend on sports to get into a good college. Maybe if they're lucky and talented enough they would get a scholarship. We really should keep these things.


I think laying off teachers is a bad idea because we're not going to know that much and other kids are going to ditch.


Okay. You all know about the budget cuts, and you all know it is affecting our schools.
I mean, okay, maybe not ALL of you know, but for the clueless people who have been living under rocks, here's what's happening. Over 600 pink slips have been handed out to teachers. Seriously?! ya seriously, with less teachers, electives, music, sports, and libraries are getting shut down. Wow, no fun classes, no sports, no books, no research....just good old, classic math, english, social studies, and science......BORING!
I speak for only myself (no I speak for all kids in school) no one wants to sit in a classroom for seven hours a day only doing four boring subjects. I mean come on people! Think of the kids. All I am trying to say is this......This whole thing is stupid!!! Thank you fellow students having a boring day.


Sunday, March 29, 2009


What did everyone think of the demonstration on Friday? Besides staff and students, we had a few parents, a supportive board member, and our first reporter present (Thank you Michael). A slideshow of our second demonstration will be up soon. Also, be sure to check out the coverage we got on the following link. So far, that blog has 90 comments and counting. The most comments for a blog on that site, for that particular day. Lastly, 721 additional California teachers received pink slips this past week. That brings the total number to 27,886.

Monday, March 23, 2009


As we get ready for this Friday's demonstration, please remember that safety is our number one priority. We anticipate a larger crowd than last week's demonstration. The buzz is out, so we might see organized parent demonstrations and organized student demonstrations. It is important that teachers are NOT passing out flyers to cars this week. We would not want students to follow that lead. However, we may pass out flyers to community members walking by. While out there, student safety is our number one concern. Let us work together to keep an eye out for students. Can't wait til Friday!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


The employees of El Dorado took to the streets on Friday morning. We were out along Concord Blvd. with signs and flyers informing our community of the current education crisis at the national, state, and local levels. The honks, shouting, waving, and showing of support from our neighbors were inspiring. Many of our former students, now going to school across the street at Concord High, stopped to talk to us and ask about our cause. The students of El Dorado were lining up with us to holler at the cars. Some were even using the backs of their poster projects to make signs to hold up themselves! Thank you to all of the teachers, staff, students, and community members who made this first demonstration a success. SEE YOU ALL NEXT FRIDAY ... and every Friday until the election!!


On March 13th, around the state, teachers and other school staff were given notice that their services may not be needed in the 2009 - 2010 school year. Here in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, over 600 pink slips were issued. These layoff notices hit the mailboxes of 43% of EDMS staff. The scope of these cuts is wide-spread; we could potentially lose teachers, custodians, campus supervisors, administrators and our librarian. And the cuts have not stopped! Some of those affected here at El Dorado have been serving our school and community for over 10 years. These people are not only qualified and dedicated educators and professionals, but the heart and soul of our school.

It is easy to feel helpless and discouraged in the face of uncertainty. Our district is having to cut millions of dollars from the budget and these cuts keep getting deeper each day. This is going to seriously effect the quality of education the children of our community will receive.

Not only as educators, but as members of this very community ourselves, we can't just sit idly by and watch schools take this kind of hit without a fight. We care about our school, our colleagues, and especially our students too much for that! It is for all of these people that we have joined together to do what we can to slow the bleeding.

Here's where you can help:
There is a measure on the ballot for the upcoming election on May 19th that will provide 7 million dollars a year to our district. This help comes in the form of a parcel tax of $99/year. These funds would be used to reverse some devastating program and personnel cuts. We are reaching out to our community to VOTE YES ON MEASURE D and save our schools!