I went to Michael DeBell's community meeting on Saturday, September 26.
Most of the meeting was spent discussion the 2.0 GPA graduation requirement. Director DeBell seemed to agree with the six people who came that the District can and should set a GPA graduation requirement and that it should be higher than 1.0. He seemed to share our concern about the range of classroom instruction hours provided at the various high schools. He also seemed to agree with us all that the six elements of the vote should not all be taken together - two are about credit (instructional hours and classes taken in middle school), two are about grading policy (11 point scale and weighting for honors), one is about graduation requirements, and one is about elgibility for extra-curricular activities. They are not a comprehensive set of reforms in any way.
Oddly, after all of the tension and wrangling over the 2.0 vs 1.0 there was instant and unanimous acceptance for a 1.7 GPA requirement, a "C-". After all, a C- is a C.
Another recurring theme was that Director DeBell is only one member of seven on the Board and as much as he might want accountability, he needs a majority of the Board to vote with him for it. He claims that he's not getting that now.
So that's why were not seeing the Board provide accountability, because four of them are against it. It was left to us to guess which four. He also said that it is difficult to make data-based decisions and demand accountability when the entire context is soaked in political issues about race and class. How, for example can he demand accountability on the Southeast Initiative when he knows that people will make it a race and class issue if he does?
There was a brief discussion of alignment and he wants to preserve the benefits we realized from site-based decision making while providing the benefits of alignment for those schools that didn't do well with site-based decisions. He wants the earned autonomy to be meaningful, but he hasn't found the right path yet - one that negotiates the tricky race and class issues and will find majority acceptance on the Board.