Thursday, March 05, 2009

Teachers suspended

According to a PEN press release, two Seattle Public School teachers at Green Lake Elementary have been suspended for ten days without pay because - at the request of parents - they have not been administering the WAAS to the six disabled students in their self-contained special education class.

You can read the whole press release on this blog.

38 comments:

emeraldkity said...

and yet... when I complained ( over a period of several years) to the SPS director that oversaw SPED, because my daughter didn't have an IEP that was adequate ( not that it was being followed anyway), that we were forced because of the perfunctory IEP, to contract for private tutoring services, and that IDEA required testing to evaluate progress on her IEP was not being done: the SPS director gave me the run around- and received as her due, a raise and a new title!

Kinda reminds me of the corporate world.

owlhouse said...

Wow. Just wow.
The ineptitude, disregard for meaningful education, intolerance of parental input, and willful lack of compliance with legal policy/procedure are never ending. Did Dr. G-J's experience as a special ed teacher train her to ignore parental input and test at all costs? Or an we thank the Broad foundation for that?
What's the best strategy to support these teachers, these families?

emeraldkity said...

it really pisses me off the way the district picks and chooses what to enforce- of course this isn't even a case of enforcement because the teachers were behaving legally.

taylor said...

From Harium's Blog on outstanding district commitments... check this out about special education. Parents need to be supported.

"ADD THIS TO THE INCOMPLETE LIST... this one could have huge ramifications.

To Sped Mom (and Autism Mom and other special ed advocates) regarding the restrictive environments issues (and disproportionate sped id of students of color) that the district is out of compliance with... Good News for those frustrated parents who have waited!

Through back channels, these issues have been escalated and are being actively investigated on ...way over the heads of OSPI and the local OCR office whom all seem to be "too friendly". The district did a special ed audit which was published in Nov. 2007 and highlighted key problems; restrictive placements and disproportionality being biggies ... Gets juicier...OSPI knew about these SPS problems and did not take corrective actions or sanctions against SPS. O-O-P-P-S ... They even reported to feds NO problems statewide. (My understanding is that they could be in really deep do-do for this!)

A critical point is that the district has been aware of these issues and has not quickly corrected them. They have even gone without a special ed. director for almost a year, hoping to replace this position with a business manager, not a special educator.
(This doesn't help their cause either.)

All these inactions have caused harm to countless special ed. students, past and present. Many of those harmed come from families where the parents did not have resources to fight or the knowledge of the rules and how harmful the district's actions could be. Acknowledging that you have a problem and announcing that you are working to fix it, will not clear you of your responsibility in wrong-doing.

This will be one Shannon M. cannot write enough blah-blah to get the district of the hook! In fact, Shannon, in her job as the district's keen counsel, should have advised the district of the urgency and their position. (Again, her actions will cost the district bid time.) What she doesn't know will hurt them....Her arms are not long enough and her network reach not strong enough to get to DC to circumvent it.

Sympathetically, the board and central office have a long laundry list of to-do's and needs. But federal and state laws protecting vulnerable populations should not be taken lightly. From what I heard....Knowledge with inaction actually can become criminal action.

SPSMom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dan dempsey said...

My wife teaches children with multiple handicaps ... SPED for primary school aged children.
She received her Masters in SPED specializing on those with multiple handicaps.

MG-J is so far off on what the WA law says in this regard...

What is the matter with this administration and this school board?

Look at all the State Laws and School Board policies that this administration and school board choose to ignore. Then they screw this one up because apparently they can not even read laws.

Good Luck to these teachers in Court.

Clearly the wishes of parents carry no weight with SPS administration even when accompanied by the law.

------------------
Do Eli Broad trained Superintendents come with any guarantee?

gavroche said...

Perhaps they come with the guarantee of gutting public school districts and making them so undesirable that this lays the groundwork for privatization--ie. charters: http://www.broadcenter.org/about/board.html; http://www.broadacademy.org/
http://www.broadacademy.org/fellows/map.html
And: "11
Leaders of school systems—superintendents, cabinet executives, school boardmembers, principals
and chartermanagement organization pioneers—are the key to successful reform efforts in
public education across the country.We invest in the recruitment, training, support and retention
of top school district talent.
Once the right people are in place, they need to be equippedwith the systems and tools that enable
themto accomplish their ultimate goal: improving student achievement for all children. These
systems and tools range frombetter human resource operations that streamline the hiring of
teachers and principals and improve the placement of educators in the right schools, to stronger
budgeting controls that ensure critical dollars are pushed down into the classrooms. Our investments
enable school districts to implement the systems and tools they need to buildmore
effective organizations.
We recognize that there are a number of policy impediments—at all levels of government and
in the areas of urban district governance,management, labor and competition—that hamper
student achievement and reduce the opportunity for schools and districts to become highperforming
enterprises. Our work is aimed at informing policy leaders at the federal, state and
local levels about the education challenges facing our nation, and at providing solutions to
those challenges with primary emphasis on professional performance compensation for teachers
and principals, expanded learning time and national standards.
We invest in cities and chartermanagement organizations where our dollars can be leveraged to
accelerate school reformefforts. In our work with districts, we have honed in on cities that are
making the greatest progress in improving student achievement. Our work in this handful of
cities—including Chicago, NewYork City and Oakland, Calif.—has deepened over time as we
watched their progress. These cities have a common distinction: the school systems in NewYork
City and Chicago are under the control of themayor, and the school systemin Oaklandwas placed
under state control after facing bankruptcy.We have found that the conditions to dramatically
improve K-12 education are often ripe undermayoral or state control.
In our hometown of Los Angeles,where public charter schools have gained an important foothold,
we have taken a different approach. Now home tomore charter schools andmore students
attending charter schools than anywhere in the country, LosAngeles is experiencing an education
revolution fromthe bottomup. By reaching a tipping point, we believe that high quality public
charter schoolswill place the essential pressure onall other public schools to improve performance.
People. Systems. Tools. Policies. Cities. Charter Management Organizations.
These areas represent the majority of our investments in reforming American K-12 public education.
For more information about
The Broad Foundation’s education
initiatives, please visit
www.broadfoundation.org.
Education
Overview"
(from: http://www.broadfoundation.org/asset/101-124-2008tbfsannualreportfinal.pdf)

owlhouse said...

Dan said-
"Do Eli Broad trained Superintendents come with any guarantee?"

Ha! I wish. Could we get our money back? Or maybe just our district?

AutismMom said...

I'm not that familiar with the WAAS, or what it could even mean in the best of circumstances. I do know this, the WAAS is NOT taken by the students... it is a bunch of evidence collected by teachers. That's right. The teachers do the WAAS... and then, the student passes or fails the WAAS. (usually they pass of course!) The student doesn't even know they're doing the WAAS. How ridiculous. What a huge amount of worthless busy work for teachers! And what a favor these parents were doing for the district by letting their teachers off the hook from this worthless waste of time.

The WASL, on the other hand, has been a double edged sword for special education students. Many more students should be taking the WASL (perhaps with modified scoring) than are taking it now. In my case, we have found the WASL useful because it forces schools to actually teach students with disabilities and forces the district be accountable on at least one thing. Of course, the WASL is an imperfect test... one that will hopefully improve with age (or replacement). It doesn't always reflect what atypical populations have learned.

dan dempsey said...

It was said:
Perhaps they come with the guarantee of gutting public school districts and making them so undesirable that this lays the groundwork for privatization--ie. charters:

Isn't it interesting that MG-J's plan for everything is uniformity and centralized control to bring about academic improvement ...
but charters are the exact opposite of that....

From 2000-2007 the urban school district that had the most improvment was New Orleans ...
The reason was stated as centralized control wained and school decision making increased as 50%+ of N.O. kids are now in charters.

We could do with a lot less misless centralized control in Seattle ..... or we will wind up with charters...
Is that the Broad Foundation's plan for us?

2000-2007 improvement rank out of 50 urban school districts
New Orleans #1
Seattle #24

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a story from the Times that makes it seem as if the teachers were refusing and in trouble for it BEFORE they got the parents' instructions to opt out. I know it doesn't actually say that, but that is clearly the implication.

cas said...

http://www.myballard.com/forum/topic.php?id=397

So teachers do get suspended in the District???

Look what is going on at Whittier, a teacher hit a kid and didn't miss even one day of work.

Parents feel there is nothing they can do but keep sending their kids into him. Many kids witnessed the hitting-can you imagine being a little kid and seeing this?

After he did it he said, holding the object he hit with, threatening to hit more kids who he felt were out of line.

Their offense? Many normal things kids do; missing a beat in a song, not performing perfectly, accidentally knocking over a microphone when trying to pick it up to sing, knocking off a boom whacker. Not remembering to look straight ahead during rehearsal, for a whole five minutes song.

They are all just scared of him.

The sad thing in all this: he can teach music. I have seen him teach, and he knows music and he knows how to explain it to all ages. Nevertheless, his creditability at this school is gone.

dan dempsey said...

Charlie,

Thanks for the Times link.
"She said the "opt-out" process never was explained to them fully, so they didn't know until January, when they were called to a disciplinary hearing, that written parental requests were required. By mid-February, the teachers had collected written letters from the parents, but the disciplinary process continued. The two are appealing the suspension.

Imagine that the district did not explain things fully .... seems pretty likely doesn't it?

Here is the problem: many districts do NOT explain this law to the teachers. In fact they may present the exact opposite of the law. Then when teachers who are well read and informed about the law speak up they are silenced.

This is often a case of districts do what they want rather than follow the law. (because those no WASL or WAAS takers hurt the passing percentage ... can't have too many of those no matter what the law says).

This could get very interesting in court. Is the District punishing teachers because the district failed to inform these teachers of the law.

Is the district responsible to keep teachers informed of the law and procedures? ... did they do so?

In the past the district has not informed either teachers or some administrators of the classroom disruption law RCW 28A 600.020.

It seems like another case of pick and choose which laws and policies should be used today.

speducator said...

I attended the "WAAS" training at the Stanford Center in the fall. It was the most worthless day I've ever spent. The so-called WAAS trainer was absolutely worthless to us. Instead of answering our questions, she directed us to people who she insisted knew how to do the WAAS.

When we found those people who were suggested to us, they told us they had no clue how to do the WAAS.

The statement that the teachers are taking the WAAS is true. Therefore, you might think that all of the portfolios would pass, except that the teachers are never told exactly what the criteria should look like. The percentage of porfolios passing last year was 20%.

We were told to use tenth grade curriculum with these students. How do you make accommodations for a student with a 33 IQ or lower?

The students are assessed through their IEP, Progress reports, psychological evaluations, the Brigance, the WIAT. These are much more accurate assessments of their progress, than trying to teach Shakespeare to developmentally disabled students.

The reason the teachers from Greenlake didn't know that there had to be written documentation from the parents to exclude their child from the WAAS is because district administrators don't WANT teachers to know that parents can opt out. The school gets a "0" if a student doesn't successfully complete a portfolio, and it's added to the scores for the school. On the other hand if the kid gets a "4", then it helps the school's total score.

The kids are actually missing out on a lot of valuable teaching opportunities because the teacher is knocking him/herself out over a long, extended period of time, to try and make sense out of this complicated, mind-numbing assessment.

AutismMom said...

Imagine it. Teacher does a "good job" on the WAAS so the kid passes. Teacher does a "bad job" on the WAAS and the kid fails. What kind of crock is that?

On the other hand, we have schools like W. Seattle Elem, Adams Elem, Arbor Heights and tons of middle and high schools... where students with very minor disabilities (if any disability at all) have been railroaded into self-contained dumping grounds. Of course the teachers are usually well-meaning. These aren't kids with IQ 33. They are usually just minority kids, or kids with incompetent parents, or kids experiencing some other societal ill. These kids shouldn't be self-contained... and absolutely should be taking the WASL. But what better way for a school to improve its WASL score than dump the kids in a location where absolutely nothing is every expected?

hschinske said...

Wow. I had kids at Whittier for six years, five of which overlapped with that teacher, and I never heard a word against him.

Helen Schinske

owlhouse said...

Please contact state and district officials, asking that these teachers be reinstated immediately.

Randy Dorn, 360-725-6004
Randy.Dorn@k12.wa.us

Maria Goodloe-Johnson, 206-252-0167
magoodloe@seattleschools.org

Gary Ikeda, (SPS legal) 206-252-0113
glikeda@seattleschools.org

SPS Board Members listed here-
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/contact.xml

dan dempsey said...

Dear AutismMom,

You said:
"They are usually just minority kids, or kids with incompetent parents, or kids experiencing some other societal ill. These kids shouldn't be self-contained... "

Another possiblity is the child has been in the SPS which features differentiated instruction without interventions ... so the child can fall farther and farther behind year after year as social promotion continues. ...until it is time for some form of Special Education.

Any chance either the school board or the administration will act on the School Board policies governing grade level promotion and skills?

Probably not too busy suspending teachers.

Keepin'On said...

Helen-

Then you must not have been paying very careful attention, or were lucky enough to have kids that were his favorites.

I can assure you - this guy needs to go and has needed to since he arrived.

hschinske said...

I didn't say he didn't. I don't know one way or the other. I'm simply expressing my surprise, and saying what my experience was. I'm not trying to invalidate anyone else's experience, but simply adding data.

Helen Schinske

AutismMom said...

Well Dan, I completely disagree with you. SPS doesn't "feature differentiation". Very few schools do any differentiation. Schools that do differentiate, eg. Montlake, Graham Hill, Bagley... do so with great results. (these schools must differentiate because they have multi-age classrooms) In fact, special ed is often the first thing they try as an intervention, because it gets schools off the hook. Isn't it a lot easier to simply put somebody in special ed than to either differentiate or intervene? If they did differentiate, it wouldn't much matter about promotion. And all the crying about "social promotion" is also ridiculous. More crying and complaining make about it won't make any difference. As long as I can remember people have complained about the twin woes of "social promotion" and "grade inflation". Kids with disabilities are going to be moving through the grades, and so is everyone else. Teachers can either differentiate.... or fail to be effective.

AutismMom said...

PS. At the middle school level, the most successful school (by that, I mean successful for everyone attending not just those in a special program) is Eckstein. It is also completely dedicated to differentiation and co-teaching. Seems like we should do more of what works.

Lin said...

Autism mom says: "On the other hand, we have schools like W. Seattle Elem, Adams Elem, Arbor Heights and tons of middle and high schools... where students with very minor disabilities (if any disability at all) have been railroaded into self-contained dumping grounds."

I think since you're making this claim of "railroading", you should share specifics. Without naming names, describe a student at West Seattle Elementary that has been railroaded into special ed.

That is what you're claiming, right? That you actually know specific cases of this type of racist railroading and you're not just passing on some gossip that you heard somewhere?

"But what better way for a school to improve its WASL score than dump the kids in a location where absolutely nothing is every expected?"

I would also like you to back up the claim that special ed self-contained classrooms "expect absolutely nothing" from students. Again, use evidence you've seen from WSE.

wseadawg said...

Broad and the Charter-backers like Wal-Mart, Annenberg, and unfortunately Gates are already hijacking public education anywhere they can. A Harlem "non-profit" Charter CEO hauls in 370k per year for presiding over 4 "non-profit" charters that serve 1000 kids total. Think they aren't about money? Think again.

Gates recently pumped charters while laying out the four biggest threats to the world: Malaria, AIDS, pneumonia, and TEACHERS!!

What's scary is how much they all believe the rhetoric. So when you hear "21st Century Global Competition" envision the "Blade Runner" like future these folks envision for our kids, where childhood is dismissed and replaced with "rigor" to ensure competitive little corporate soldiers of the future (until their jobs are outsourced).

Scapegoating teachers and unions while pretending to represent the ignored parents is Broad Foundation 101. How soon will we hear about KIPP schools and importing Teach for America neophytes to save Seattle Schools? It's happening all over the country, why not Seattle?

Sahila said...

wseadawg... I smiled (sadly, wistfully, ironically, depressedly, fatalistically etc, etc) at your reference to Blade Runner...

I often wonder how many people get that we're already living the Matrix... and have been doing so for a very long time....

dan dempsey said...

Dear AutismMom,

Thanks for the lively discussion.

Instructionally disabled
is a term used to describe kids that appear by almost every measure to belong in SPED but do not. They do not because their lack of academic achievement is directly related to poor curriculum and/or poor instruction.

The SPS in Math over the last decade is a true leader in the production of instructionally disabled students in math.

This continues as teachers are to follow the Everyday Math pacing plan.
Forget the WA state grade level math expectations ... follow the EDM pacing guide.

Nationally there are several instances where teachers lost jobs by not:
1.) following the mandated pacing guide or
2.) for supplementing material when "Fidelity of Implementation" was the order of the day.


Finland is an exemplar for differentiated instruction ... Whatever the SPS advertises as differentiated instruction .... seems to be anything but that ... as they go about increasing the production of instructionally disabled students.

dan dempsey said...

AutismMom said:

"Kids with disabilities are going to be moving through the grades, and so is everyone else. Teachers can either differentiate.... or fail to be effective."

"Everyone is going to be moving through the grades". -----

Thanks for the explanation of why 50%+ of entering SPS 9th graders are unprepared to be successful in high school mathematics.

In Finland differentiated instruction takes place in an atmosphere of high standards and lots of interventions to help students meet those standards. Students are retained when they need more time to meet expectations at a particular grade level. Thus grade level retention is indicated when all those interventions fail to bring a student to the minimum performance level.

But ... as we know in the SPS there are no minimum levels of achievement for regular education students. In SPS math currently there are no expectations k-8.

dan dempsey said...

Dear AutismMom,

Thanks for the school names. It is interesting to see what can be found when investigating school results.
It is always difficult to draw conclusions because of so many uncontrolled variables.

The schools you listed have more favorable staffing ratios than most schools. According to OSPI data:
Graham Hill: 342/22 = 15.55/1
sped 10.3%

Montelake: 234/16 = 14.6/1
sped 15%

Dan Bagley: 330/20 = 16.5/1
sped 11%
-----------------------------------------
Adams: 367/19 = 19.32/1
sped 13.2%

Arbor Heights: 308/20 = 15.4/1
sped 23%

West Seattle Elem is so far out of the demographic league with the schools you mention it can hardly be suitable for comparison.

Free&reduced meals 79%
Bilingual population 32%
Sped 26%

Staffing 271/21 = 12.9/1
--------------------------------------
In West Seattle also
Sanislo: 312/17 = 18.35/1
Sped 9.2%

Schmitz Park: 326/16 = 20.35/1
Sped 7.1%
-------------------------------------

I still believe that Seattle Schools do not differentiate ... as in meeting an effective definition of differentiated instruction as shown to be internationally successful.

Individualization is easier with favorable staffing ratios coupled with favorable demographics. The three schools that you cited as exemplary in differentiating have very favorable staffing ratios when viewed in relationship to the demographics of their populations.

Shannon said...

Question about another issue:

I attended a tour at Lowell on Thursday. Julie Breitenbach (sp?) said that the demographers would be releasing the projections for 2009-10 enrollment at each school this week and that more information should be coming out on Friday morning.

Does anyone know where this information would be posted?

TwinMom2003 said...

I would start with the main enrollment page.

They have already posted the sibling early enrollment numbers for 2009-2010.

Charlie Mas said...

Speaking of the early enrollment numbers for siblings, does it strike anyone else as weird that they have early enrollment numbers for 2009-2010 for the AAA (2), Cooper (3), Meany (1), and Summit (1)?

I guess this is because early sibling assignment came before the closure vote, but you would think that they would update their count.

SPSMom said...

At the top of the report they note why those early assignment numbers appear for closed schools, these student have not been reassigned yet, so I have no issue with that aspect of the report.

What I do find interesting is how many schools fill up a K class in early sib registration, notably View Ridge and Wedgewood.

owlhouse said...

I've heard they're back in the classroom this week, with the suspension suspended as they file their appeal. Anyone know more?

Lenora said...

Yes, owlhouse, that's true.

I would LOVE to give more details but I feel like I should be careful about what I say on a public forum as we go through the process to appeal. The reason I'm responding to this is because I know many people are concerned and want to help. It means so much to have support and we are truly thankful to those who have given it and continue to do so. We don't know what is going to happen but for now, we're happy to be back in the classroom. Hopefully, all of this is happening so that things can change for the better. Personally, I'm sick of administrations and bureaucracies that have lost touch with humanity. That needs to change! We work with children!
I just don't get it...

AutismMom said...

Lin,
The district actively acknowledges the huge problem of self-containing students withOUT cognitive disabilities in schools with level 3 self-contained disability programs. Disproportionality in restrictive programs, and in special education as a whole are well documented and reported in the district's special education review. That really isn't news at all. The named schools are all schools with level 3 programs... and they all have this problem. I have observed these programs on many occasions and I have worked as an advocate for students in these buildings. Students with true, and actual disabilities are removed from these programs, which are already highly restricted. Why? Because they are disabled. (If you can even imagine that!!! No disabled kids wanting academic instruction in our disabled program. Go somewhere else.) These schools also refuse to provide academic education to disabled students if parents actively seek it.

So, who is it that attends these programs? I can tell you they are both impoverished and minority... but evidently, not cognitively disabled. I can also tell you, that situation doesn't happen to affluent parents able to provide for the needs of their child. Would any of you self-contain your cognitively normal child that in classrooms where no kids ever take the WASL, and where no teacher ever has that aspiration for their students?(however weak the WASL is, it is at least a small bar to shoot for). You can look at OSPI data, you will find these schools don't even test enough students with IEP's to report the results even though they are highly over-represented with disabled students.

AutismMom said...

Dan, you aren't making any sense. No, I wasn't comparing schools for differentiation. Montlake, Graham Hill, and Bagley "feature diffentiation" as you say (and disparage) because they have multiage programs AND inclusion for severely disabled students. They absolutely do NOT have any great student-teacher ratio's. I make no claims about the diffentiation at WSE, Arbor Heights, or Adams... I have no information there. I simply note the disproportionality in their sped programs. Some classes at Graham Hill have MORE than 30 kids per class. Montlake has at least 26 per class. That isn't some great ratio as you claim. In contrast, WSE before the great merger, had extremely low class sizes... less than 20.

Montlake, GH, and Bagleys are popular and do a good job... because of differentiation.

In addition to poo-pooing "differentiation" you also poo-poo "fidelity of implementation". What is that anyway? To my mind it means "good teaching". So, the things that are SOOOO horrible are good teaching that meets the needs of students at their level. And no, that doesn't describe the reasons for WASL scores. Curriculums will never be a panacea for education. We had good ol' traditional math when I was a kid... and guess what? There were all the same problems and complaints.

TwinMom2003 said...

Lenora,

Glad you're back at work.

I toured Greenlake for my incoming K kids and we toured all areas of the school.

Everyone seemed fully engaged and very happy in all sections of the school. Teachers teaching and kids learning.

Best to you!

dan dempsey said...

Dear AutismMom,

The staffing ratios are more favorable in the three schools you mentioned. My stats are from OSPI data as reported by the SPS to OSPI. These are staffing ratios not class sizes.

"Fidelity of Implementation" refers to following the scripted pacing plan, which in many cases allows little or no variation from its daily requirements.

I have never advocated for the good ol' traditional math curriculum (which I found in great need of improvment .. unfortunately the SPS has given us something worse). I am an advocate for a blended internationally competitive math curriculum.

For further information on this math direction see:
"What is Important in School Mathematics."

I think that differentiation is great, just that the SPS rarely does it. "Fidelity of Implementation" makes it even less likely.

Dan