There was also an announcement about a one day conference for Special Ed PTSA, tentatively on October 10th, called Best Practices for Inclusion Schools.
I also put out, with permission, flyers about this blog. If you are new here, welcome.
In addition, the National President of the PTSA, Jan Domene, was there and gave a speech. (FYI, the term NCLB is probably on its way out. The new term to use is ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act.) She said that in the seven years under George Bush, no one from National PTSA was invited to the White House. And that the PTSA is the largest child advocacy group in the country. Oh.
I know, I know - get to the point.
So we had to wait for Dr. Goodloe-Johnson who came in right on the dot of when she was to start to speak. She turned and asked the new president what to talk about and Ramona Hattendorf said something to the effect of "with the many changes coming in the district, what's the best way for parents to stay involved?" Not a bad question.
But Dr. Goodloe-Johnson turned it around and asked us how the district should keep us involved. She didn't get specific but referenced poor turnouts at some community meetings. About this point I did want to raise my hand and say, "How about not dividing us into groups we don't want to be in (and this format has been questioned, repeatedly, at meetings)?" or "How about answering questions at meetings?" She said she didn't want to hear, "You didn't tell me!" from parents when the district has make efforts at communicating and outreach.
She then went on a meandering route. She said that
- the audit for alternative schools is coming (great but a little after the fact for school closures)
- the audits were consistent about the district not having policies about aligned curriculum which better districts have
- parents should be involved with their buildings but as well have an understanding of the Strategic Plan
And for her final say, she talked about Jane Addams. I have no idea why she would have brought it up but she did.
She said, "No decision on Jane Addams have been made." (I presume that to mean about any changes to what is already set up for Fall.) She said that it was the truth.
Naturally, I could stand it no longer so I put up my hand. She called on me and I pointed out that the JA building is mentioned, in specific, in the latest draft of the SAP for a possible change. I also said if there was no change planned, why did the principal at Summit tell staff there might be and they might want to go and check out a job fair? She ignored the latter.
Okay, here's the preview part for tonight's meeting. She said, "We can't make promises about capacity management." And on and on about demographics and needs and assessing buildings.
I rarely use language like this here but this time it's warranted. Bullshit.
She is clearly laying the groundwork for a couple of things. One, to say "oh it's all hazy crazy and enrollment needs could change at any time and we need to be flexible." Two, to say "Capacity management, capacity management, capacity management." Remember that phrase because I believe you will be hearing it quite a lot as the district spins this story.
Does this engender faith? Anyone can use capacity management to excuse anything they do in this district. Is it right?
Then came the final cherry on top. She asked the audience and frighteningly, it was not a rhetorical question, "Do you believe me?" And there was a few yesses, a low murmur and a few noes and a little nervous laughter. She said she had never lied and had no reason to start now.
I'm not calling her a liar. I'm saying, at this point, she is misleading parents for her own hubris. It is just shocking to hear her continue to try to wave this off as though it was all rumor. And we all know the capacity issues in the NE/N; nothing has changed so something likely will change at JA and it'll be in the next couple of years. They can open another elementary at Sand Point but it will not change the middle school issue.
She is cutting a swath through this district that I feel will mostly be for the worse. And I truly believe she will leave us in, say 16 months to 2 years. (She's an ambitious person and nothing wrong with that but she's not going to make this a long-term stop.)
After she spoke there were workshops on various topics. I went to two great ones - one, security and how to handle it ( as you can guess it was high school and middle school leaders) and one called "Communicating in controversial times" (yes, I know, the irony).
In the latter we had a roundtable discussion of how to discuss tough topics in our schools. We had a president from McGilvra who was lamenting the loss of 30% (!) of their staff, both 1st grade and kindergarten teachers plus a change of principal. He was very good in his thinking, saying they had gotten a great 5th grade teacher from a previous RIF but he was troubled by the impact on the school. He said that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was having a meeting with their Board. Several people said she could be very responsive and that is good news to hear. And he said they would go in with a positive attitude.
I think that's great. But I truly hope they don't go in hat in hand. They do have a right to question how this will affect their school. Good schools don't run on fumes and vapors. Anything that undermines the foundation can really hurt. And when morale goes, the whole thing starts to slid (see Whittier). There can't be an expectation that good schools will always be good through some magic because it isn't magic. It's hard work.