Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Design Teams

It seemed to me that everytime the District staff were faced with a near-impossible question to answer, their response was that the "Design Team" would address that issue.

How will Thornton Creek assimilate students from two other alternative programs? The Design Team will do it.
How will Thornton Creek suddenly expand from a K-5 to a K-8? The Design Team will do it.
How will all of the re-located students get established in their new schools? The Design Team will do it?
How will the SBOC and NOVA share Meany? The Design Team will do it.
How will Thurgood Marshall balance the needs of APP students and neighborhood students? The Design Team will do it.
How will Thurgood Marshall create a single community from these diverse populations? The Design Team will do it.
How will we Hamilton be able to meet the academic needs of APP students? The Design Team will do it.
How can families be assured of quality and effectiveness? The Design Team will do it.

These Design Teams must be like the freakin' Super Friends or the Justice League, comprised of super heroes.

Let's send a Design Team to Iraq to bring the troops home triumphant.
Let's send a Design Team to sub-Saharan Africa to stop the spread of AIDS there.
Let's get a Design Team to end Global Climate Change and America's dependence on foreign oil.
Let's get a Design Team to fix the economy and restore family wage jobs in an industrial America.

The Design Teams are the answer to a lot of questions, but there doesn't seem to be any answers to questions about the Design Teams.

Who are on the Design Teams? - Are they ordinary mortals like us? Will they include community representation? Do they include people with special expertise?

How much time and other resources will they be given to complete their work? Don't they already have full-time jobs? When and how often will they meet?

What is the scope of their charge? What level of detail will they discuss and plan? Will they address curriculum? scheduling? facilities? culture? Doesn't their charge overlap the charge to the Building Leadership Team?

What is the extent of their authority? Do they make suggestions or do they give orders? If they tell a principal to offer a class, does the principal have to offer it? What if he or she doesn't? Can they require administrators or teachers to take specific professional development?

How long will they be around? If they don't stay intact and on the job, then how will we know that their designs will be followed? But will they be permanent? Again, how does their work duplicate the work of the Building Leadership Team?

What is the deal with these Design Teams? Have we ever had them before? Where did the idea come from? When and where were they used successfully?

And how can the Board accept "The Design Team will do it" as an answer without asking questions about Design Teams?

10 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

See my review of the KUOW show. Apparently, they want teachers on the teams.

another mom said...

Great job articulating the questions about "Design Teams." I don't know what they are but it sounds important, and I think I need one.

The fact that Dr. G-J has not taken the time to explain what they are, who will be on them, their charge, and how long they will be in place, says volumes to me. It is likely that no one knows.

seattle citizen said...

There was a design team (sort of?) that spent a year, maybe fifteen or more meetings, designing a blueprint for identifying alternative schools. This design team (as it might have been called...but wasn't...) was composed of alt admins and teachers, passionate and knowledgable alt parents, and and alt student. Lots of expertise and commitment, lots of time spent (10+ people x 15 meetings x 3hrs meeting and travel = 450 person-hours) crafting a well-thought out guiding document.

another mom said...

Seattle Citizen, I don't know if Dr. G's shares the concept of what you described as a Design Team. She has not let us in on the plan yet. These teams will not have a year to meet prior to any school closure or program move.

And after reading Melissa's summary of the KUOW show, I was stunned that Dr. G-J would suggest that a Cooper teacher join the design team that dismantles Cooper.

seattle citizen said...

another mom,
Whatever THAT team was (design, planning, advisory...) the result was a fine document, the product of many, many hours of dedication. Have you seen it?
(he asks rhetorically)

seattle citizen said...

While it is distasteful, the idea of a Cooper teacher being put on a design team to shut her own school, the idea is not without merit: If we HAVE to close/consolidate programs, it would indeed be a good thing to have those closest to the front lines participate. I recall that some members of Marshall Alt, in its last year, participating in designing the new "safety net" program.
Sad and tragic, yes, but if change must happen, I hope that the educators involved rise above the tragedy and contribute to the greater good.

Megan Mc said...

Maybe these design teams can solve the budget crisis and alleviate the need to close schools in the first place.

seattle citizen said...

Megan Mc,
Yes, some design before action would be a good thing indeed. Closing programs and/or buildings before the next iteration is designed seems like putting the cart before the horse. While I somewhat understand the argument that program movement/closure must be done so new assignment plans can be considered, it seems like a better idea would be to do all the planning at once: "Here's the new thing we need to create, it requires closing these and opening this, here's how we will assign to this new system."
It seems the paltry savings for this year (3.6 million -2.4 million closure costs = just 1.2 million this year) doesn't warrant the speed that this is happening. Personally, I vote for a design team that plans ahead, rather than putting a band-aid on the wound.

Charlie Mas said...

The Design Team answer reminds me of this cartoon by Sidney Harris.

seattle citizen said...

Yes, Charlie, all we need is a holiday miracle!

Thank cartoon was apt, indeed. Try linking to Mr. Harris's comics and "leafing" through them with a lens of our school issues. I liked #10; substitute JSCEE for the workshop, and assignment planner for systems analyst, and educators for those who can sew......

(more fun word verifications: I see "cones"...as in "snow"?! Thanks, word verifier!)