Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sure is quiet

The School Board generally has two meetings a month. Their work is year 'round, but things definitely slow down during the summer while school is out. Last year the Board had only one meeting in July, but still had two in August. This year, however, the Board had only one meeting in July (on the 1st), and is having only one meeting in August (on the 19th). That's a really slow meeting schedule.

Consequently, the Board is not able to respond to delays, such as the delay in the grading policy reform. If the Board were meeting, they could move forward with granting high school credit for classes taken in middle school, but since they are not meeting, they cannot.

I don't think the decision to skip two meetings during the summer is the reason that they also skipped their quarterly Strategic Plan update. That is usually done as a work session. But it certainly keeps them from asking about it.

There is no progress on updating Policies without Board meetings. They are supposedly really interested in moving forward on that.

There is no particular effort at community engagement this summer. No progress on the student assignment plan, no progress on performance management, no progress on labor negotiations. Just no progress at all at a time when you would think they could get a lot done.

9 comments:

SPSMom said...

"no progress on labor negotiations"

Is most concerning as left they are very far apart and there are talk of a strike. It's all got to come together in August, which starts next week.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, this is what I call the dead of summer (and with this heat, really dead). I was discussing the School Board elections with a reporter and was asked, "Who cares about the elections?" Well, I named a number of groups and yes, I believe it matters to parents but I also believe people are not paying attention. I guess they can wait until after the primaries (especially if you aren't voting for a someone in the primary) but then you miss the forums.

I also worry about the boundary meetings. I had asked Tracy Libros about the timing and she said she didn't know yet. My worry is that they will do it in the last week before school when people are less aware. I also asked her to please consider NOT doing the meetings all in one week. She seemed surprised by the request but my feeling is that parents are not connected into their schools right now and may not get the news about the meetings. And, of course, why does the district ALWAYS have the meetings of this type in just one week?

I do have some info on labor negotiations that I will post separately.

Sahila said...

I worry about the Stand for Children activities going on around the District, particularly the petitions asking people to support better education for kids, but in reality are anti-teacher, union-bashing/busting efforts...

I'm a PR/marketing specialist and I recognise clever spin when I see it, and these activities are nothing more than union demonising... and its particularly offensive and insidious and manipulative when its being done to influence the current contract negotiations...

Stand for Children people - have a say, but be up front about what your agenda really is - performance based pay for teachers and doing away with the seniority system....

James- SEO Expert said...

Not only 2, but I think there must be 1 meeting in a month and it means 12 meetings in a year. That makes the management aware about all the things which are happening around school.

Thanks and please think about my suggestion

James from language school madrid

Carolyn said...

I don't agree that getting rid of a primarily seniority-based job-assurance is union busting - is that what you meant Sahila? Seems there's got to be some good ways to bring teacher performance into play when layoffs are required.

Sahila said...

Let me be clear that I have no idea how this works in the US right now....

I think that there ought to be some sort of performance oversight for teachers - but that ought not to be tied to standardised test scores. It ought to be an internal (school community) process - six monthly reviews - parents and students' input (51%), plus peer and principal evaluation (49%), with mandatory ongoing professional development to shore up and improve on any weaknesses.

And I think that teachers not reaching or maintaining a certain level of expertise, skill, enthusiasm, innovation and spirit of good teaching, ought to be given two or three written communications pointing out that lack, and after a certain period of lack of improvement, ought to be asked to find another vocation - this is normal for most occupations and I don't see why teachers should be exempt, especially as the impact of their lack of ability/interest/suitability impact kids who have no choice but to live through the negative experience and may lose year(s) of educational opportunity.

AND I think that teachers need the protection of unions to avert the trend of firing more experienced (more expensive) staff at the first sign of trouble, to protect them from unfair dismissal practices, to maintain and increase pay rates, to maintain and improve working conditions, to maintain and improve professional standing and respect and to give them all the advantages conferred by belonging to a professional association.

I dont think these ideas are mutually exclusive, whereas groups such as Stand for Children seem to think they are....

Sahila said...

Regular performance reviews would cut out the 'dead wood' people complain about as being spared when lay-offs happen...

Then if lay-offs are necessary, it should be last on, first off, as in other industries...

I myself don't think lay-offs are ever necessary; what I think ought to be happening is that we should be moving towards the stated goal of having smaller classes in all our schools - smaller classes means we need to keep our teachers, and maybe even hire more....

There are other ways to save money in the system - perhaps by getting rid of the Broad interns and new Broad assistants who cost the District money, by trimming admin costs, which according to the State Audit are hugely inflated compared to other districts, by moving central admin into all those empty buildings around the District and selling off or leasing off the JSC...

Perhaps we could be really brave and adventurous and mount a campaign to get more money from the state and the federal system - gasp, shock, horror... perhaps we could lobby for an income tax so that education funding isn't subject to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in the property and retail sectors...

Perhaps we could all have an attitude adjustment and look on education as a social service we are carrying out as our obligation to the next generation and to building a much healthier society (with the spin-off that a better educated society costs us less in the long run), rather than a business in which we turn out widgets to fit as cogs in the machine, at the least possible cost for the greatest possible profit - except that we aren't spending enough even for that and the profits are severely curtailed by the costs of building more jails and paying for the emotional and physical health issues a failing education system incurs...

Failing economy, failing health system, failing education system, dysfunctional individuals, communities, society - and we're wanting to do more of the same?

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results...

Sahila said...

Here's an interesting take on Stand for Children, coming out of Portland in 2006...

You'll also see that Stand has been doing some media blitzing too, as well as hitting various private email addresses round the District:

sorry the links arent live - have some sort of block going on in understanding the written instructions on how to do that; will ask a friend for a one-on-one tutorial this week...

Anyway... food for thought

http://joesschool.blogs.com/olsononline/2006/03/stand_for_child.html

http://www.centraldistrictnews.com/2009/07/27/a-parent-with-a-child-in-seattle-public-schools-2#comment-3

James- SEO Expert said...

that's is a good decision. I would say that more meetings will kill time there must be limited meetings but very useful.

Thanks
James from Viaggi studio