Friday, November 06, 2009

Audit and Finance Committee mtg 11/5/09

The Audit and Finance Committee met yesterday afternoon and the first order of business was a review/explanation of the concerns raised in Meg Diaz's analysis of central administration expenses. The meeting was very well attended. The three members of the Committee were there: Steve Sundquist, Peter Maier, and Michael DeBell. No other Board members were in attendance. Neither of the two Board members-elect were there. Duggan Harman did most of the talking for the staff, but there was a whole lot of other staff people in the room. I saw Phyllis Fletcher from KUOW, Dick Lilly from Crosscut, and Lynne Varner from the Seattle Times. There were at least two other members of the media present. There were also a lot of community members at the meeting including Meg Diaz, myself, Mel, Joanna Cullen, and Dorothy. Please chime in if you were there. There were a couple of guys from the State Auditor's office there as well.

For every concern that Meg raised in her analysis, the district staff had an excuse that made it a non-issue. To his great credit, for every new excuse Michael DeBell found a new concern. I wish that everyone who doubts Michael DeBell's interest in the job could have seen him at this meeting.

The budget categories shown to the board were not the same as those shown to the OSPI. Mr. Harman acknowleged the difference, gave some historical reason for it (claiming that it gave the Board a truer sense of how the money is being spent), and then said that according to a newly adopted Superintendent's Procedure (adopted in October) the Board will get an OSPI-compliant budget statement in future. There was no suggestion that this Superintendent's Procedure change had anything to do with Meg's report; it was as if they were making this change all on their own anyway. He did confirm and emphasize that the bottom line and all of the line items were the same, just the categorizations were different.

The District spends inordinate amounts of money on teacher supervision. Mr. Harman explained that the District had been reporting the cost of the teacher coaches as teacher supervision - an administrative expense - but that they will change to reporting it as teaching. That will shift enough money out of administrative costs to bring the District's administrative costs into line with state averages. There was some discussion as to whether teacher coaches should be categorized as a teaching activity or as a teacher supervision activity. Mr. Harman's contention was that it was legitimate to call them teachers because most of them spend most of their time in classrooms and they sometimes model teaching. Mr. Harman said that is was not appropritate to list them as teacher supervisors because they do not hire, fire, or evaluate the teachers. Director DeBell didn't accept that rationale. He wanted to know how other Districts classify teacher coaches. He wanted to know how much time the teacher coaches spent teaching. He wanted to know what direction the District got from the OSPI on how to categorize the cost of teacher coaches. BEST OF ALL, Director DeBell, upon seeing that Seattle Public School spends about $10.3 million a year on 111.5 teacher coaches - about $92,000 per coach and a coach for every thirty teachers - WAY more than any other district, asked the right question. He said that we have clearly taken coaching as a major strategy for improving student achievement and he wanted to know if it was proving effective. It wasn't a question that could be answered in the Finance Committee, but it is the big question for students. Director DeBell was ready. He had called over to Bellevue and asked how they categorized teacher coaches and why. He called the OSPI and asked them how they think that teacher coaches should be categorized (they said as teacher supervision). He did his own research. He asked if making hiring and firing decisions and writing evaluations were the determining characteristics of teacher supervision. He asked for data on the amount of time that teacher coaches spend modeling teaching technique. He was brilliant.

The District's central staff has doubled over the past ten years. Mr. Harman showed that once the 111 teacher coaches are removed from the count of central office staff the growth of the central office over the past ten years has been an extremely modest 2% and only 6 FTE. He showed that, after discounting for inflation, central office expense had grown by only 1.6% during that period. I'm curious about how much of that 1.6% is the superintendent's salary. I think it is about 1% of the 1.6%.

The District has too many supervisors and managers. Mr. Harman explained that a number of people in the central office are counted as managers or supervisors despite the fact that they don't manage or supervise anyone. Apparently there was some decision made in Human Resources that anyone with a paygrade level of 28 or higher would be counted as a manager. When these people are re-coded as non-managers the number of managers and supervisors in the central office drops down to an appropriate level. Mr. DeBell asked about the history of that decision in HR. Mr. Harman said that he asked around but could not find and documents only a vague oral history. Mr. DeBell asked about the pay range for the level 28 paygrade but neither Mr. Harman nor the person from HR at the meeting could say off the top of their head. Mr. DeBell said that he recalled that the District had to offer more money to IT professionals to retain them on staff and thought that they had to re-cast the jobs as management jobs to get them into the pay range necessary to be competitive in the job market. The HR guy then chimed in and said that was, in fact, the case. This made me wonder two things: 1. why didn't the guy from HR give that explanation to Mr. Harman when he was asking about it and 1. why didn't the guy from HR offer that explanation when Director DeBell asked about it and Mr. Harman said that he couldn't say. These jobs have now been re-coded as non-managerial jobs and the ratio of managers and supervisors in Seattle Public Schools is in line with other districts. According to another brand new Superintendent's Procedure that's how it will be done in future. Then Director DeBell stepped up with another great observation: why, when the State Auditor raised this issue didn't the District staff give them this explanation and correct the coding at that time? Why, instead, did the staff tell the State Auditor it was because our district is so big and complex and therefore we need more administrators, managers and supervisors? [crickets]

The rest of Mr. Harman's presentation was a recap of what he had already presented followed by a second recap all on one slide.

Director DeBell asked that both Mr. Harman's presentation and Meg Diaz's presentation be posted to the District web site.

Everyone - including Mr. Harman - thanked Meg profusely, but they did not allow her to speak.


zb said...

So, what do coaches do?

I'm bemused by the plan to "fix" the issues with the budget by moving things from one category to another. Category analysis can be misleading, since it depends so on how things have been coded, but moving things around can't be the answer to every issue.

GreyWatch said...

I have a friend who is a teacher coach. Her perspective is that they are underfunded and their caseloads are too high for them to be effective. She is not able to spend as much time in the classroom as she feels is necessary, and is spread too thinly between teachers. I'm not sure if her situation is similar to others in that role.

There are definitely some teachers out there in need of improvement, so I appreciate efforts to help them. Spending close to $100k (probably much more after benefits) for 111 coaches (not sure I read those stats correctly) seems excessive, especially when there are classrooms out there with 28+ kids.

Glad to hear that DeBell tried to get at the effectiveness of this model.

Robert said...

We have a math coach at Lowell APP zb and I know one their responsibilities is to assist in teaching when there is a split grade class (which are primarily a by product of program being split). I couldn't imagine how the teacher would accomplish teaching math to two grades without it.

ArchStanton said...

Here's KPLU's report:

Meg said...

Director Sundquist, as the president of the committee, would have had to bring me in to the discussion for me to able to speak to the issues.

seattle citizen said...


Two different purposes:
1) remedial - helping teachers (who we would assume are capable generally, hence still employed) fine tune, do some correctives etc;

2) training in new techniques - RiT, MAP, Differentiation, Common Curriculum, Esis upgrades, Source....any of the slew of new things District wants teachers to know (and there are a BUNCH this year...)

Most training should, in my opinion, occur in PD time, but there's not ever enough of that, and what is there is better spent doing interesting and engaging activities like collaborative work, etc...

So coaches implement new materials such as science curriculums, update training in new systems, and do observation and critique of teacher technique to improve individual areas of lagginess.

Do we need them? Absolutely. Are they efficiently utilized? Hard to say. Could teachers use more non-classroom time to develop and learn new techniques? Yes, unless one wants to fire the whole workforce every three years or so and hire "fresh" teachers who have already been taught the "next new thing."

dan dempsey said...

"Seattle Public School spends about $10.3 million a year on 111.5 teacher coaches - about $92,000 per coach and a coach for every thirty teachers"

My question is:
At the time of the RIFs when many wanted coaches returned to the classroom, MG-J stated that only coaching positions that were paid for directly out of grant funding that was specifically designated for coaching (and unable to be dedicated elsewhere) would continue during this time of budget restrictions.

Show me the grant funding for those 111 coaches.

So now we know or at least can suppose that there could have been ZERO RIFs except MG_J finds it important to continue a plan for greater centralization which does NOT work. Michael DeBell asked the right question "Any evidence that coaching provides results?"

It math the answer is a resounding NO as these folks fail to advocate for the use of the well-known effective practices (effective as in over-whelming positive data is available) from Project Follow Through, Hattie's Visible Learning, and the National Math Advisory Panel's final report. Instead coaches are to use the nonsense that are reputed to be "Best Practices" by the "Club Ed" gurus, who have ZERO data to indicate these are in fact best practices. NMAP made specific reference to this advocating for "Best Practices" that are NOT.

There you have it. The Superintendent lies to keep coaches because it is part of her plan for Centralized direction to produce improvement. Except centralization does NOT work and is wastefully expensive.

I want those RIFed teachers back and a decentralization plan.

School Board please wake-up and stop accepting lies from the District office.

111 coaches could be traded for how many teachers? Little wonder MG-J likes huge class sizes but who wants to teach in those rooms and what parent wants their child in one?

If the District Office cannot select decent instructional materials for math such that achievement gaps expanded for every group of disadvantaged learners with Everyday Math and massive coaching ......and Sealth, Cleveland, RBHS, and Franklin score lower on 10 of 12 WASL sections in 2009 than in 2008 ... and the district refuses to release PSAT scores for Fall 2008 .... where is the evidence that MG-J's plans are effective?

This is more "Club Ed" voodoo belief and direct. I vote for making decisions based on Evidence.

PFT, NMAP, "Visible Learning" try it you'll like it.

Dorothy said...

Good recap, Mel. I was also impressed with DeBell, he does care. Sundquist and Maier also asked questions and seemed not thrilled. Less depth than DeBell though. They couldn't have been thrilled to simply be in this position, sitting there with media and state auditors present.

The district's reclassification does NOT, however, address the concerns Meg Diaz made, including growth during time when enrollment was declining. And what does it matter whether some high paid folks are classified as management or not. They are still warm bodies taking up space in JSCEE and getting paychecks. Lots of large paychecks.

The comparison districts that Harmon used were not all the same the ones Diaz used. Harmon said they were only going to use districts with more than 20K students. Evidently Bellevue is smaller, so they didn't use it. DeBell didn't like that. One of the board (DeBell?) wanted a comparison more clearly using the same districts Meg charted.

Also, this 1.6% growth over ten years? Well, they admitted that they weren't comparing apples to apples, that they didn't *really* have all the budget analysis from 1999 because....The Database Is On The VAX!!!

Coaches. These financial guys assured the committee that the coaches spend most of their time in classrooms. Do they? (I am not even talking about are they effective and are they actually instructing kids, I want to know what percent of their paid time is spent in classrooms.)

How many of these coaches manage each other? Surely, some are supervisory of other coaches. If not, who supervises 111 people? Who do they report to?

When did they start classifying coaches this way? Well one of the issues is that the influx of Coaches is relatively new (ie, think Gates Foundation.) But Harmon said the classification started around 2003/2004. Well, the audit was in 2005, right? If those times are correct, then the auditors thought coaches were correctly classified before.

Last Spring when so many teachers got RIFs. How many coaches got RIFs? Harmon said again that there's been cuts to central administration. Yet I have never seen an actual list or numbers or any details of such layoffs or cuts.

seattle citizen said...

I don't believe it should be the function of a coach to co-teach, or assist in actual teaching. This is what teachers are for: If the classroom needs it, why aren't there two assigned teachers? Using coaches for this purpose seems to negate the term "coach."

Having an "extra" teacher in a building to do this sort of co-teaching would be agreat thing, but are they still "coaches"?

seattle citizen said...

Dorothy, I'm guessing that since coaches are certs, they are under CBA and would have been riffed with others according to seniority. But I'm also assuming that coaches typically have more than, say, five years experience and thus would have avoided RIFs...But who knows how it all worked out in the massive reshuffling of staff that occurs when RIFs occur - some coaches might be back in classrooms, some teachers might now be coaches...

Robert said...

SC, how would you teach math to two different grade levels in the same amount of time as one then?

wseadawg said...


Dan Dempsey has it right. If they had proper curricula, they'd need a lot fewer coaches. Because they select all this disovery based math and similar, anti-intuitive, dysfunctional curricula, they create a need for coaches to try to cram it into teachers and students heads, then blame poor teaching when, despite highly paid coaches, it still back-fires and produces diminishing returns year after year.

If they had better curricula, they wouldn't need so many coaches.

Every single teacher I have spoken with has told me these coaches are either not worth the money, or entirely worthless. Maybe my kids are lucky and have great teachers. I don't know. But how can we not see that such a high number of facilitator-enablers makes it self-evident that there are huge problems with the curricula?

seattle citizen said...

Robert, that's a good question and a common answer is "differentiation." This is a tough thing.

But my point is that "coaches" should "coaching" and if a class needs two teachers, well, hire two teachers. It doesn't seem that a "coach" is coaching if they're teaching...I would be all for a building being able to hire extra teachers to help when necessary, but to use someone who is ostensibly a coach for this purpose doesn't seem to make sense.

seattle citizen said...


Even with "proper" curricula, who will train teachers to use it? Unless you never introduce new ideas, you need someone to train in the new ideas.
Not saying we need so many, or that there's not some other way of doing it, but change isn't always bad, and if there's changes comin' who will train?

Dorothy said...

Another model of teaching several levels of math at once is to have the kids move around. Isn't that what North Beach used to do? Whole school doing math at the same time, so they can ability group more effectively.

SC, yes, the coaches would be in CBA. But as what? instructional staff or supervisory? That's a question. And sure, as senior teachers, they are more protected as a group from RIFs. How do RIFs affect supervisory staff? I don't know that. And also, do we know for sure how many coaches we have had over time and how often they get put back into the classroom, because of RIFs or other reason?

SolvayGirl1972 said...

And when they get put back in the classrooms, do their salaries go down to the level of a senior teacher?

Central Mom said...

At one Central area school last year, faced with the budget crunch, the building leadership team grappled with how to best distribute staff funding. The first position out the door, as agreed by both site administration and teachers? The Teacher Coach.

Stu said...

Neither of the two Board members-elect were there


adhoc said...

Yup, SC is right. In an ideal world the school should hire a second teacher, or an IA, or an intern to split up the class for math. It is not the job of a coach to work directly with students. Coaches are supposed to be working with and training the teachers.

But it's not an ideal world. The reality is that there is no funding to have two teachers (or IA's) for a 28 kid class, even if it's a split grade class. It appears that Robert's school has found a creative way to work around the lack of funding. Can't really blame him for advocating for this to continue, or his school for arranging it.

His school was faced with two options:

A) Use the coaches (inappropriately) as an extra teacher to make split grade classes manageable.


B) Get no assistance (teacher, IA, coach) in the classroom as there is no funding for it.

Of course we can work to change the system, but as we all know change comes slow. Most things us parents advocate for come, if ever, long after our kids have moved on. So, yes, work to change the system, but if you can find creative ways to work within they system while trying to effect that change, well, I can't blame you.

SPSMom said...

If the investment in coaches was paying off in the classroom, would would the board need to hand $1 million to Sylvan?

seattle citizen said...

Yes, adhoc, I was speaking in ideals (surprised?) but you are right: in day-to-day working with what we have there are many "creative" ways to meet the needs of a building. I wouldn't imagine this creativity to continue under either a) increased demand for data data data and that are planned downtown, or b) under scrutiny from taxpayers (or anybody) wondering where their money is spent.
This speaks to the larger issue: Do we allow buildings (under good principals) some leeway, some flexibility to meet needs or do we hyper-organize and render into a "transparent" system every little thing?

Charlie Mas said...

An excellent question was raised among these comments: what CBA (if any) covers the coaches?

The Collective Bargaining Agreement for the teachers is for Certificated Non-Supervisory Staff. The word "non-supervisory" is right in there.

seattle citizen said...

Yes, Charlie, as far as I know (which isn't very far!) Coaches are regular certs as far as the Collective Bargaining Agreement goes...

I also don't think they are under any sort of different pay structure - they are paid, I believe, as any other teacher of similar lane and step (education and years)

Charlie Mas said...

This is from the Budget Book for 2009-2010 in the section on Core Administration:

"Key changes to the Core Administration activities include:

• Funding in the Superintendent’s office of one time expenditures related to securing closed schools necessitated by the school closure process. Cost increase of $578 thousand.

• Addition to the Superintendent’s office of Broad Resident, and a Senior Administrative staff position. Cost increase of $127 thousand.

• Elimination of Business Office staff including the Budget Director, a Senior Budget Analyst, two Accounting staff and a Records Specialist. Cost reduction of $400 thousand.

• Elimination of Human Resource staff including one HR Manager and four Personnel Specialists. Cost reduction of $340 thousand.

• Elimination of the Director of School Partnership position and one Customer Services position. Cost reduction of $167 thousand.

• Shift of payroll staff from Human Resources to the Business Office resulting in a reclassification of four payroll technicians. No change in cost only a movement of funds between the two activities of $228 thousand.

Here's what the Budget Book says about significant changes in Teaching Support expenses:

"Key changes to the Teaching Support activities include:

• Allocation of Federal ARRA funds into a teaching support reserve. These funds have not yet been designated; however they are reflected in the Teaching Support expenditures. Cost increase of $6.1million.

• Funding of the district’s academic strategic initiatives including: Math and Science Instructional Coaches, enhanced professional development for new administrator and teachers, support for curriculum mapping and textbook selection committees, and organizational improvements in Special Education. Cost increase of $1.2 million.

• Allocation of a portion of the Gates Excellence for All grant in the Superintendent’s Budget. This grant supports strategic plan work in the areas of rigor, data and assessments, student supports and teacher effectiveness. Cost increase of $2 million.

• Redirection of 15% of school based Free and Reduced Lunch funds from the WSS were placed in the Chief Academic Officer’s organization for focused intervention services for schools not meeting academic achievement goals. Cost increase of $1.2 million.

• Reductions in I-728 and LAP funding resulted in the elimination of twenty-eight school based Instructional Coaches and three central coach positions. Reductions in various other funding sources led to the reduction of three additional coach positions. Cost reduction of $3 million

• Decrease in pension contribution rates, partially offset by a slight increase in medical costs, set by the state legislature, results in a reduction of expenses.
Cost reduction of $800 thousand.

• Various position cuts including the Assistant Director for Curriculum and Instruction, a Curriculum Consultant, a Program Evaluator, an Advanced Learning Consulting Teacher, an Assistant Grant Financial Manager, a Senior Administrative Assistant and several other support positions. Cost reduction of $733 thousand.

• Closure of four schools and shifting of other programs within the district resulted in the reduction of school staff including librarians and counselors for the closed programs. Cost reduction of $633 thousand.

dan dempsey said...

It seems like the first law of administration is to expand your domain. In business creating a bigger market is desirable.

The Board has certainly created a larger market for consulting services and coaching by adopting the Superintendent's recommended Math disabling curricula.

NMAP found nothing to indicate that expenditures on math coaches produces improvement. The SPS is a fine example of that. The district rarely focuses on improving the math content knowledge of teachers in Professional Development. This is perverse that faulty methodological practices trump knowledge of what is being taught. Note University Place, Fife, & Peninsula got a $500,000 grant to teach arithmetic (fractions etc.) to elementary school teachers.

There are a variety of "effective practices" that require little in the way of coaching. So why aren't they used? BECAUSE results are NOT important and the UW has great distain for math practices that work.

If Principal's were responsible and accountable for actually producing academic improvement in their buildings (and given the resources like control of budget to do so).. they would be less likely to Cow Tao to the Superintendent's unproductive recommendations .... But that is not how this unproductive game is played .. the principal's principle job requirement is to mindlessly support the Superintendent. For as Cheryl Chow tells us this is all about "PR" and little else.

Luckily for a few Directors this producing positive academic achievement through effective practices likely falls into micro-management so it can be ignored.

Now back to producing more "PR" and continuing to hide Fall 2008 PSAT results while saying "Open, Accountable and Transparent" as much as possible.

For an alternate view opposed to MG-J try this:
Accept No Substitutes for Real Decentralization

For our school superintendent apparently reality never bites when she ignores it; for there is no accountability for her or her plans with this school board.

Central Mom said...

Dick Lilly at Crosscut wrote about the mtg.

seattle citizen said...

I'm interested in knowing the various ways coaches are deployed:

My understanding would be that there are these "types" (evidently):

1) trainers - in groups downtown, go to schools to help get new curricula online
2) STAR mentors - classroom teachers of certain experience can take a sort of sabbatical from classroom for a year (years?) to mentor under STAR program -part of CBA evaluation, and also available to all new teachers requesting a little mentoring
3) as we see here in this thread. coaches are evidently assigned to some schools (are these the old Pathways deans? Academic Deans?) and used in a variety of ways

seattle citizen said...

ah, but I see Charlie's post details the types of coaches a bit better

dan dempsey said...

Seattle Citizen said to Wseadawg:
"Even with "proper" curricula, who will train teachers to use it? Unless you never introduce new ideas, you need someone to train in the new ideas."

I do not buy this. Teachers can be lifelong learners and can do much of that learning independently.

The "VooDoo Nonsense" does not work no matter how much training is used. Clear effective instructional materials require far less ramp up time.

If the coaches had ever looked at the relevant data this pathetic system might have improved. Ms. de la Fuente is clearly deficient in her knowledge of NMAP, PFT, and "Visible Learning". Look at her guidance it says volumes and shouts that "Results do not matter". The same can be said for Greta "no results" Bornemann of OSPI.

As a member of the SBE Math Advisory Panel I sought to produce math standards that were easily understood by teachers and parents. Terry Bergeson spent about $30 million dollars in an effort to train teachers in the use of a standards document that her lackey Dr. George Bright said would likely take three years for teachers to fully understand. "These OSPI folks produce work for themselves whether needed or not" resulting in huge wastes of resources.

As a teacher I took classes in the summer but did lots of Professional Reading. This changed my practice and it happened without coaching.
I should add that some of these changes were beneficial in terms of producing better results and some were not. For the most part the top down type of changes advocated by those in the know were often unproductive. When I went to AP Calc training I found that almost everyone there had the same experiences. 100% of us had used "UCSMP"'s Chicago Math secondary series and found it lacking ... including the instructor. This was an "Exemplary and Promising" program so are Connected and Everyday.

wseadawg said...

Right-On SolvayGirl & SPS Mom!

SC, there is no way to justify so many coaches, except to classify the current curriculum as "difficult to implement." Assuming you agree that simpler curriculum would be easier to implement - my main point - then I think you'd also agree that we have too many coaches, at least as a starting point. Combined with the field interviews I've had with teachers at my kids schools, which demonstrate a lot of wasted time and money, to say the least, I think its fairly obvious non-teacher coaches are taking money that would be better used in the classroom. Sylvan is just one more example of the "invisible hand of the market" invading our schools, reaching into the till and stealing from our classrooms.

We need a return to some basics, and it all starts, in my opinion, with removing all the politics and profiteers from influencing what it taught to our kids. If that influence isn't exposed and curbed, quickly, then we are fighting a losing battle for quality schools.

seattle citizen said...

I agree, Dan, that top-down stuff isn't always the way to go...classes, programs, schools all seem to benefit from flexibility, diverse styles etc. If the teachers are teaching, then having them all teach the same way might not be a good idea.

But some things are necessarily "top-down": Source training, MAP, etc...there are things that might prove useful that originate on a larger scale - not everything is classroom based.

You read during the summer - is this reading directed by the principal or district? Is it organized? is it coordinated, so teachers around a building might use some useful common strategies? If so, perhaps training is appropriate

seattle citizen said...

wseadawg, I agree that the coaching designation, as currently implemented, doesn't seem to make much sense or have much rhyme nor reason.

And if we have so many coaches, why ARE we paying Sylvan? Where did THAT come from?

I'm jus' saying that there is a valid role(s) for coaching, but it should be clear as to what the roles are, and if the curricula thus supported is good.

dan dempsey said...

Perhaps something like the legal action by the ACLU in Florida would get the Board and the Superintendent to take results more seriously.

From the ACLU Florida web site:

Aho et al. vs. State of Florida et al. was filed in the Circuit Court of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach County Florida.

Attorneys in the class action lawsuit include Hansen and Vanita Gupta of the ACLU Racial Justice Program, Lewis of the ACLU of Florida, Deborah N. Archer of the New York Law School Racial Justice Project and ACLU Cooperating attorney Ramona Hupp.

A copy of the lawsuit is available online at:

wseadawg said...

Exactly SC. But the pattern nationwide has been to do just the opposite, in very "Haliburtonesque" fashion.

Along with the new curriculum comes a necessary outlay of huge sums of money for coaches to try to "make it work." As Dan D has repeatedly shown, it hasn't worked for math so far. Just the opposite in fact.

There's also a paradox in that, like any "good business" SPS is supposed to be standardizing and streamlining to offer equitable programs accross the district. Shouldn't that model save money? Well it won't if the "standards" are hard to implement and in the end, don't work.

hschinske said...

"I'm curious about how much of that 1.6% is the superintendent's salary. I think it is about 1% of the 1.6%."

Charlie, do you really mean 1% (i.e., 99% of the 1.6% is something else), or do you mean that you think the supe's salary is about 2/3 of the 1.6%?

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a link to Dick Lilly's article in Crosscut:

Jump-starting budget reform in Seattle schools

seattle citizen said...

So we have two issues:
Is teaching staff (classroom and support) being used to its best benefit;

Is there "fluff" such as Broad hires and other "outside" consultancy (Sylvan, CEL, NDPC et al)

Where does the money go, and to what end?

dan dempsey said...

Seattle Citizen,

I certainly agree that coordination is needed. I just fail to see that 111.5 coaches have anything to do with that.

When teaching 1968-2009 (I just got my first social security check in October), I subscribed to Teacher Magazine (no longer in print but on line) and Education Week. Off and on I was an NCTM member and at one time subscribed to all the NCTM professional journals (including their professional research journal).
I owned personal copies of all the NCTM 1989 Standards documents. I subscribed to the Mathematics Teacher and the Arithmetic Teacher for several years.

These periodicals gave leads for further reading: The University of Notre Dame law school had a symposium on schools and society and Univ. of Chicago Sociologist James Coleman had a great piece on "Schools and Social Capital" and how social capital was necessary for the success of the public school and how as a society we were approaching Zero on the social capital scale in many communities.

A lot of the math guidance from administration was very counter-productive. (Wow!! just like today) I went through the NO Algebra for any middle schooler in the mid 1980s (it would damage their brains because they were not developmentally ready).

The most absurd event though must be the rise of the "Voodoo Nonsense" gurus. Consider the following from Steve Leinwand:

"It's time to recognize that, for many students, real mathematical power, on the one hand, and facility with multidigit, pencil-and-paper computational algorithms, on the other, are mutually exclusive. In fact, it's time to acknowledge that continuing to teach these skills to our students is not only unnecessary, but counterproductive and downright dangerous."

from It's Time To Abandon Computational Algorithms
By Steven Leinwand February 9, 1994 Education Week

Mr. Leinwand was recently employed as an expert to guide Highline SD to their adoption of the "Discovering Series" for high school math.

dan dempsey said...

We are paying Sylvan because:

The board policies D44 & D45 that require effective interventions are ignored in favor of unmerited social promotion. This I guess helps with "PR" spin (right Directors?).

For years the SPS admin could not even tell you what the required math essential learnings were in grade 3 (or any grade). {Remember that OSPI's old math GLEs and EALRs were so vague they meant nothing} Intervention is impossible when there are no specified essentials to be learned.

Keep in mind the administration wanted to extend social promotion through graduation with the 1.0 gpa. {We need your money even if we refuse to do the job}. Thanks to a public uprising the usual rubber-stamping board got the message and voted NO. {That changes Sundquist's and Maier's "0 for many" to a "1 for many"}

In her first year as math program manager Ms. de la Fuente said the State Math Standards were the math curriculum when they clearly were not. ( A big boost for Sylvan)

The "Stategic Plan" is a bogus boondoggle as far as math goes. Thus Sylvan gets $1 million because there is NO emphasis on doing what has been proven to work.

Now as for reading, I do not know.
With humongous class sizes and 111.5 coaches, I would say things are looking good for Sylvan.

Also consider the lack of emphasis on classroom behavior ...
RCW 28A.600.020 is conveniently ignored whenever possible.

BUY Sylvan Stock NOW.

seattle citizen said...

hmm, Dan, much as I admire your efforts on behalf of your craft, I've come to believe that there are some things the might best be done together - common strategies help students wrap around ideas if various teachers are using them; vertical and horizontal alignment keeps things going in a natural progression; common assessments help educators have a general grasp on what level a student is at BEFORE they enter a classroom (which might aid placement, etc...)

This obviously can be taken too far, and raises very important questions about the value of teacher autonomy: given the obvious variables in education (often unfixable variables) and variable outcomes, maybe it's a GOOD thing to have teachers, good teachers, just do what they do best without common mandates...maybe part of the value of education is the variety of styles, activities, etc that occur over the 12.5 years of a student's career in school. It might not be aligned, but it's vibrant and challenging. Students WON'T get "every strand and target, in order" in such a model, but they will be exposed to lots of interesting stuff, and hopefully engaged.

Conversely, a completely aligned and systematic education provides "data" that can in fact, be used to more closely monitor and target knowledge. It can provide some commonalities to make learning more comprehensible and predictable (we hear here (hear hear!) about "stability": What's it like for a student to be enthralled with one teacher's strategies and pedagogy, then, the following year, be presented with a whole new way? Good yes, but also maybe confusing and off-putting.

adhoc said...

And lets not forget Sylvan is just one of over 100 approved SES providers. Federal law says that school districts must offer families choice in providers. Sylvan is just one of the choices, although probably the most used/popular.

Go to this link for a complete list of SES providers:

Go to B056-07, and click on SES attach C

adhoc said...

BTW, the district is mandated to give every family that is eligible for the free tutoring a list of all of the approved SES providers on it and their contact information. Families are told to choose whichever provider best suits them.

Most Title I schools also have SES Provider fairs, where they invite many providers to come to school with information and hand outs. Families walk around and visit each table where the provider reps. give out information and try to recruit them.

adhoc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle citizen said...

Boy, talk about planned privatization...

Not to say the district doesn't fail to teach some students, but here's the situation:

A Title One school (poorer children) might have 20-30 categories of "types" of students (cells) that show up on the WASL report. Groups of kids: SpEd, AA, API, Asian, etc etc) If just ONE of these "groups" of students doesn't make progress on WASL, the school is declared "failing." After a certain number of years, these sorts of things kick in: closure, reorganization, students must be given free tutoring by outside tutors...Even students not in that particular cell!

It's abosolute craziness, and the more I think about the nonsensical aspect of this, the more I throw up my hands in exasperation....

STUDENTS fail, or are failed, not groups! EDUCATORS fail to teach, not SCHOOLS. The whole thing is nonsense.

seattle citizen said...

Sylvan shares just went up five percent.

Maureen said...

So, does this mean that Kay Smith Blum's proposed extended day is already in existence for all of the Title I schools that are failing AYP? We're already paying for it-just in a disjointed way and to private vendors-not SPS staff?

(And WHY weren't Smith Blum and Patu THERE?)

adhoc said...

Oops! The link I provided earlier was just for the parent form letter.

Here is the link with the list of approved SES providers.

And there aren't "over 100 providers" as I earlier posted, there were many duplicates on the list, when I took the duplicates out, there were 59 different approved providers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh Ho! Look at all these comments!

However this is Charlie's recap - at 5 am (and without taking notes - I hate his prowess).

My notes reflect much of the same but here's what stood out to me:

- Michael was a superstar. He was firm but not condescending or snarky. But he wouldn't take any answer at face value. Steve followed up well but he and Peter seemed to be fact-checking a lot.

-HOWEVER, Steve said he wanted Meg's report on the SPS Website. Good for him. To the best of my knowledge this is one of the few reports that wasn't done or commissioned by SPS to appear. Where they will stick it is a good question.

- The Superintendent sent Brian B. to be at the meeting for her and Don Kennedy.

-Two communications persons attended which I found odd for a committee meeting.

-Linda Shaw from the Times was also there along with Phyllis Fletcher from KUOW, another radio reporter and Lynne Varner, editorial writer for the Times.

- the 2 guys from the Auditors office came for this meeting. Fun fact: the State Auditor has an office in the SPS headquarters that they use about 4 months a year when they do the performance audit for the district. They are starting up now but came to hear this meeting. I was quite startled when one of them gave me his card and said he reads the blog all the time. (Charlie said he must live in Seattle.) Great to know someone is paying attention. I didn't really ask them their impressions but I'm sure they found it interesting.

-I did find it odd that they praised Meg several times but neither the Board nor staff asked her any questions or clarifications.

-one key thing I think Charlie didn't mention was that the main error (staff said) came from the phrase "central administration" versus the district using its own phrase "core administration". OSPI uses "central administration". This got called out by the State Auditor on another issue about the district using its own terms and then there is confusion later on. It was interesting because an example given was putting the Transportation Manager under Transportation instead of Central Administration. I was surprised to see that happen because you could shift off all sorts of positions all over the place.

- Michael referenced something from the Moss-Adams report about coding that I need to check.

Melissa Westbrook said...


- Staff "recognized" in the last several moths a disconnect with the budget book. "Ours is fairly low on information." Oh but that's how they like it. Then they can go back and make any explanation they want. Michael said that the public needs to be able to see the budget process as well as the budget for transparency and the ability to track the budget. Duggan said "so noted".

- Duggan made a remark about the whole thing that I thought was something of a defense of the district which was that their "intent and impact differ".

- It was interesting that Steve asked Duggan about slide 10 of the presentation (it compared SPS budget from 1999 and 2009) if it was apples to apples and Michael said no before Duggan answered.

-And again, the VAX rears its ugly head with them saying that some of the data is in there

- Interestingly, when Michael voiced the idea that perhaps in the oral history of this budgeting and coding issue that it had been done to offered a higher salary, no staff had any info on the salary ranges. They knew they were coming in to explain that 111 coaches were coded wrong and yet didn't bring any information on their salaries?

-Michael was very firm on if we are using more coaches than most districts (and we are), then there needs to be clear demonstrable outcomes both from the viewpoint of taking some of the best teachers out of the classroom and is it the best use of money.

-Duggan said there were two types of coaches - school-based and instructional - and that 3/4 of the 111 are school and the other 1/4 are instructional. He mentioned using I-728 money.

- Peter opined that he would like to hear from Susan Enfield on this issue. He also asked if they found other coding errors but they said they were only looking at those around central administration.

I wish the entire Board had heard this as well as our new Board members.

My read is that all 3 Board members were not happy with this explanation because it opened up all sorts of questions about best use of limited funds, coding errors in other departments, etc. The focus on central administration may mean not keeping the two Broad residents whose terms end at the end of this school years. I absolutely could not see the justification for 2 more people with $90K+ salaries.

dan dempsey said...

More about Sylvan:

NCLB provides for "free" tutoring for students who qualify. A qualifying child's school can be the provider of the tutoring using the very same teachers the child is currently not doing well with. A bit perplexing ---the very same school that is not educating a child is all of a sudden going to successful educate them before or after school? Yet, parents will sign their kids up for this.

If the district uses a pathetic plan that is not working and refuses to change this model ... then Sylvan seems a reasonable choice.

Why is the central administration so resolute in persisting with a disastrous model?

It seems that Director DeBell would also like an answer to this question.

Anonymous said...

Was this meeting not important enough for our superintendent or CFO to attend?

And why was Brad Bernatek their stand-in? He's in charge of Research,Evaluation and Assessment within SPS.

I sat in on one of these finance meetings in the spring and both the superintendent and the CFO, Don Kennedy were there. I assumed it was one of their responsibilities to participate in these meetings.


dan dempsey said...

Kudos for Peter:
Peter opined that he would like to hear from Susan Enfield on this issue.

So where does the CAO stand on this?

Is there any data or rationale that justifies 111.5 coaches?

Keep in mind the CAO inherited this. She came on board after all this was already set in place by MG-J central.

Does her job description include:
production of creative excuses for ineffective plans put in place by the Boss?

gavroche said...

Dora Taylor said... Was this meeting not important enough for our superintendent or CFO to attend?

Good questions. Supt. Goodloe-Johnson and CFO Don Kennedy probably knew the media would be there and did not want to be publicly associated with the damning findings of Meg Diaz's report.

So much for "everyone accountable."

Apparently Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and Mr. Kennedy believe this doesn't apply to them.

Dorothy said...

"Keep in mind the CAO inherited this. She came on board after all this was already set in place by MG-J central."

The influx of coaches was said to have started with the Gates Foundation involvement with the district, so that predates MGJ as well, yes?

dan dempsey said...

Seattle Citizen said:
"Dan, much as I admire your efforts on behalf of your craft, I've come to believe that there are some things the might best be done together - common strategies help students wrap around ideas if various teachers are using them; vertical and horizontal alignment keeps things going in a natural progression; common assessments help educators have a general grasp on what level a student is at BEFORE they enter a classroom (which might aid placement, etc...)"

Me to ... I am all for it


at least since Bergeson took over 13 years ago and in many places before that Math leadership at the district level has been incoherent, incompetent, and incapable of assisting teachers in improving academic performance. Teacher produced good results in spite of math administrators. Look at the incredible increase in "Coaches" and the like statewide in the last 12 years and the corresponding lack of results.

Look at the SPS, where singing the politically correct "No Results" song was far more important than actual results.

To rise to the top professionally look no further than Rosalind Wise and many others. Their rise had nothing to do with either individual math knowledge or an ability to bring about positive results.

Things are certainly no better in the SPS today.

The trifecta of disaster:
EDM - Connected - Discovering
OH yes it will take a bundle of coaches to make sense out of this debacle. A true testament to k-12 vertical alignment of absolute NONSENSE brought to you by the bloated central administration

and directors Carr, Maier, Chow, and Sundquist.

dan dempsey said...

Dorothy said:
"The influx of coaches was said to have started with the Gates Foundation involvement with the district, so that predates MGJ as well, yes?"

Is MG-J the big dog or just a lackey tail?

Given Gates "Small Schools" (pathetic results) initiative etc. perhaps someone needs to actually think rather than just be looking for handouts and giving away the farm in the process.

Coaches are a key component of the Centralized Control that the Superintendent erroneously believes will produce improvement.

MG-J has been here two years plus and she owns this mess NOT the CAO.

As someone else pointed out MG-J is renting and can easily move on while the kids and families are stuck with her damages. ( See the Santorno effect)

gavroche said...

Blogger Dorothy said...

"Keep in mind the CAO inherited this. She came on board after all this was already set in place by MG-J central."

The influx of coaches was said to have started with the Gates Foundation involvement with the district, so that predates MGJ as well, yes?

As Dan just said, arguably the chronology doesn't really matter because MGJ, Kennedy and Enfeld are presiding over the district now, so they are responsible for how it is currently operating.

If something is wrong here they should do something about it.

It's not as if the Supt. is powerless to change things -- for good or for ill -- as she has already demonstrated.

On her watch, MGJ has overseen the closure of (needed) schools, moved around principals (without community input), RIFed (necessary) teachers, imposed a failed math text, and is now trying to impose a new student assignment plan.

A few more examples: Goodloe-Johnson inherited a valiant naturally diverse centrally located school in T.T. Minor, and a strong school that successfully combined the most academically capable with the most fragile special needs children in Lowell Elementary, and a successful alternative high school in Nova. That didn't stop her from closing, breaking apart or moving all three, did it?

Also, on her watch, the district has audited many other elements and programs -- Special Ed, APP, alternative schools next -- why doesn't she audit the central office or the effectiveness of teaching coaches vs. actual teachers in the classroom?

Lastly, Gates money may well predate the arrival of MGJ in Seattle. But Bill Gates and Eli Broad are co-conspirators in the "education reform" privatizing agenda.

As a member of the Broad Foundation's Board of Directors, Goodloe-Johnson thus represents a private enterprise that is effectively anti-public education (hence the conflict of interest with her being the head of a PUBLIC school district).

So she may have neither the training or will to make decisions that would make our public schools stronger -- such as putting more teachers in the classrooms instead of using overpaid coaches.

But she cannot claim to be powerless nor should she be let off the hook for the continuation of what she inherited, especially when it is ineffective or wrong.

So yes, she and Don Kennedy should have been at the finance meeting yesterday.

Meg Diaz for School Superintendent!

Dorothy said...

Oh, I am not trying to defend MGJ! Just that someone else said a committee member suggested asking Enfield, and some other commenter here mentioned that she inherited it and has only been here a little while so she's excused. That kind of thinking might lead to excusing MGJ as well, yes? She has been here long enough, and has talked about audits and accountability enough that there is no excuse.

Obviously, someone excused MGJ from attending the audit and finance committee meeting. :(

Charlie Mas said...

Seattle Citizen hit the nail on the head:

"STUDENTS fail, or are failed, not groups! EDUCATORS fail to teach, not SCHOOLS. The whole thing is nonsense."

I'm working on a post to discuss this instituional misconception within Seattle Public Schools. Stay tuned!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Gavroche, let's add to that list.

Neither the Superintendent nor the current Board put into place spending under 1% of the General Fund for basic maintenance. But are they, have they, been carrying it on? Yes.

I was trying to explain this to a young father at my table at the Roosevelt meeting last night. I told him that even if the BTA levy didn't pass, I believed the district would find the money somewhere. He said, "what about the other buildings?" I told him they would not get their money and that it was probably better. He looked puzzled and then I tried, very briefly, to explain the problem of underfunding basic maintenance, the issue of being $500M in backlogged maintenance and how we, as voters, have to get the district to change their behavior.

He smiled at me like I was a crazy person and I know what he was thinking. "I'll never vote against a school levy."

Somehow, somewhere there has to be some rational thought. "No, we won't code things improperly." "Yes, we will fund basic maintenance because our buildings are deteriorating faster than we can keep them up."

Someone has to draw a line in the sand and say "Enough". If not the Superintendent, then those who supervise her. That would be the Board.

dan dempsey said...

It has been reported that in the Bellevue School District the Curriculum coaches are paid for with funds from the Technology Levy.

dan dempsey said...

Speaking of not showing up....

Consider the Phi Delta Kappa curriculum audit. $125,000 spent on recommendations and analysis that was totally ignored.

Nope Admin did not like that one and went Cherry Picking elsewhere. That was the first of MG-J's actions and sure laid the groundwork for "Zero" accountability.

Where are those 2008 PSAT results?
Same old story ... our heads are in the sand so we cannot hear you.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I did ask recently, via Public Disclosure, for those PSAT results. They haven't been culled out yet. And, it's been how long? Do I believe that? Not really. Do I think we'll ever see the results, school by school, grade by grade? No, I don't.

dan dempsey said...

Thanks Melissa,

Like you, I predict these 2008 PSAT results never will be separated school by school because the results are so bad the "PR" machine just wants them to go away.

Yes we have a "supposed" data based Superintendent. The data must be selectively cherry-picked before each decision.

Now that an increasing number of members of the public are onto the shenanigans and using research and FOIAs to out the deception, we will likely see an increase in situations like the 2008 PSAT results not being sorted for school by school results.

If there was a grant associated with 2008 PSAT testing, I wonder what the grantor thinks of the district's failure to fully use the results?

I guess Dr. Vaughn has been incredibly busy the last 10+ months and been unable to tackle this task in a timely manner.

What kind of school board would allow such nonsense?
One that is more interested in "PR" than in improving academics.

Maureen said...

dan, the results are so bad the "PR" machine just wants them to go away.

What do you mean? That the level overall is low, or that the variation from school to school is so wide? Or something else?

SPS mom said...

More of MGJ's PR machine:

Another reader noted that she's in November's Seattle Magazine - she's shown as an "influential" person and one of her great accomplishments is that she "leaped over controversy in getting a new math curriculum approved."


Chris said...

Well, everybody else said everything I had to add, so I will add just one thing that made me snort (not audibly)...
When Sundquist said Seattle was unique not because of it's demographics any longer, but on the other hand we are a "media center", and they are "getting phone calls from the media" we need a PR department. Hah, I thought, the media doesn't call SPS; SPS calls the Times, and the Times comes over and sits in their lap...THANKS to the independent media for their presence yesterday!

dan dempsey said...


All I know is this from one teacher at one high school who saw the PSAT results for that High School. The results were unbelievably low.

I know nothing else except when I inquired about PSAT 2008 results I was referred to Dr. Vaughn and received absolutely nothing.

seattle citizen said...

Charlie, re students and teachers failing, not groups and I've pointed out recentlhy, the more I think about it the more convinced I am that there are large civil rights issues at stake. I believe this aspect of WASL and NCLB is racist. I'd love the opportunity to discuss this with anyone, on the blog or wherever, as I'm not sure yet. I've been through-hither thinking about it...

seattle citizen said...

The WASL debacle, and NCLB puts the focus on students: who are they doing as groups? Since some groups suffer more from racism etc than others, these groups will always be "lower" on WASL scores, and therefore their schools will always "fail."
This takes the onus off addressing individual student need, and off addressing actual individualized and excellent teaching (not measured my some WASL rubric)

Hence, since "groups" get "failing schools" and unstability, failing schools and charters, they suffer more.


Unless one can be convinced that WASL scores are the desired outcome of education.

seattle citizen said...

ooh, that last post was full of typos.
It's late. And the thundercloud that evidently enveloped our house late last night has me still on edge...

dan dempsey said...

Seattle Citizen,

In regard to civil rights issues, the McLaren, Porter, Mass legal action filed in superior court appealing the May 6, 2009 High School Math adoption is to a certain extent based on civil rights issues.

Attorney Keith Scully will be filing more paper work this month and this case is likely to be heard in King County Superior Court in early 2010.

Any School Board decision may be legally appealed in 30 days.

If you would like to make a contribution contact Marty McLaren at

{This may be difficult to win because showing that the directors acted arbitrarily and capriciously may be necessary.}

If a pro-bono attorney can be found this may escalate into a much larger k-12 civil rights case and taken to federal court.
Federal court action would likely be easier to win, given the pathetic results over more than a decade of time by a bumbling board and administration who incessantly talked about the achievement gap and simultaneously avoided pursuing the actions known to be effective in educating educationally disadvantaged children. The math achievement gaps grew progressively larger over a 10 year period while the bumbling continued. Ignoring what works continues to this day.
Associated thought.......

MGJ said that the Spring 2008 Math proposal for "IMP" at high school failed because of political difficulties but the process was OK.
{This was said at one of the first meetings of the 2008-2009 high school math adoption that eventually produced "Discovering".}

This is the same "IMP" that produced the devastatingly poor results at Cleveland HS from 2006-2009 with lots of UW guidance and NSF funding.

My reaction is MGJ's process is garbage. Obviously results do not matter in how MGJ assesses instructional materials for it is all just the politics of power for her. That is one reason adoption committees are stacked by Central Admin to produce predetermined results.

Yup a major lawsuit or directors actually directing the superintendent is definitely needed.

Wake-up call for the hopefully former rubber-stamping directors.

Michael said...

By the way, the Superintendent was at the John Stanford building during the Committee meeting. As one of the commenters implied, they probably didn't want to face the music. "Apparently Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and Mr. Kennedy believe this doesn't apply to them." I couldn't agree more.

wseadawg said...

Are we all beginning to understand how NCLB and the little cottage industry of Edu-Reform think tanks, phony supposedly local "grass-roots" groups, and reform agenda props and pushers like NCTQ are designed to cripple public schools, deeming them as failures thereby greasing the skids for privatization, union busting, and ultimately the lining of corporate and right wing pockets?

Heck, coaches are what, 11 million? Then there's 1 million to Sylvan, 25 million for discovery math materials, more millions going into the corporations who not only write standardized tests, but offer both the test preparation services and coaches, and the post-test-failure remediation materials, tutors, remedial tutors, etc. They take our money coming, and going. Kind of like $50 cases of Coke in Baghdad some years back.

What's really NEW or shocking about any of this? Honestly.

SSDemp said...

The context of the Gates grant is a good one to point out why no one should be fooled by Dick Lilly's apparent attempts to recast himself as an observer and reporter on this issue.

When our kids were in school, Gates money appeared to be his primary goal. As a "reporter" and Board member, he was always a "get along by going along" guy who is as much responsible for this trend as is MGJ.

As far as the PR staff at the AF meeting, (one of whom left the meeting with her arm around Lynn Varner) there are now at least 6 of them employed. 4 in offices near the Superintendent's (Tucker, Chandler, etc.) office 1 in BEX and another newer fellow(Jim "Ratchow"?) whose office appears to be elsewhere.

Whatever it is they are selling, it certainly isn't accountability.

dan dempsey said...

"Whatever it is they are selling, it certainly isn't accountability.

Is it transparency?

When MG-J can produce no results then "PR" is all that is left to sell.

What is she going to do stand on her record? Great Real.

Arrogant, dismissive, imperious and usually wrong that is quite a combination. Anyone still wondering why she was not going to be rehired in Charleston? It is pretty clear why her successor in Charleston was rated better than MG-J in every category surveyed by the Charleston Post and Courier.

dan dempsey said...

Let us not forget all those young teachers who were laid off.

Some members of the community questioned the district retaining some more experienced teachers who were thought to be not as good as many laid off.

I wonder how those same folks critical of seniority would have reacted to MGJ keeping 111.5 academic coaches and yet laying off classroom teachers?

SSDemp said...

Bingo Dan.

Let's hear from Andrew, et. al.

dan dempsey said...


you said: "cottage industry of Edu-Reform think tanks, phony supposedly local "grass-roots" groups, and reform agenda props and pushers like NCTQ are designed to cripple public schools, deeming them as failures thereby greasing the skids for privatization, union busting, and ultimately the lining of corporate and right wing pockets?"

Five years ago I would have thought the above is just total bunk.

Now even my dim-bulb is becoming illuminated. Nicely stated and unfortunately very true.

In 1989 the NCTM standards were released. The exemplary and promising math programs as rated by the "experts" needed to follow the 1989 NCTM standards. Thus we got among a few others TERC/Investigations, Everyday Math and Core-Plus rated as wonderful stuff. This crap has produced a total mess. But the "Math Ed Gurus" continue to push this. SPS adopted "Discovering" because it fits so well with their defective k-8 program.

The students have had no accountability for math skills k-8 and thus Prentice-Hall or Holt cannot be adopted because those texts will expose the farce being passed off k-8 as math education.

If you doubt this statement remember the grade 8 math WASL finds 25% of Seattle students entering high school "Math Clueless" and Ms. de la Fuente produced a recommendation with NO materials below Algebra I.
Look at "Discovering Algebra" what a condescending insult to any grade 9 kid that knows math or any grade 9 kid that wants to learn math.

As usual at least 4 members of the rubber-stamp committee adopted this garbage thus continuing at least a decade long math disaster for several more years. Just what MGJ recommended.

The next solution was to use grant money (about $800,000) to hire cottage industry consultants to help us with high school curriculum.

As Wseadog points out this is a self-perpetuating circling spiral that likely ends with the death of public education.

Is providing this type of direction what it takes to be a Broad Foundation board member in good standing?

The Eli Broad Foundation trains Urban Superintendents and Urban School Board Directors all over the country. Say how are the results panning out? Hey one urban district wins the Broad prize every year .. so pretty good I guess.

wseadawg said...

Dan: Naomi Klein wrote about this predatory form of disaster capitalism in her brilliant work "The Shock Doctrine."

Regardless of one's politics, W's administration perfected the art of seizing opportunity from crisis and disaster to push through undemocratic "reforms." While NCLB was legislated through the normal channels, the supposed public education crisis that gave it legs was inflated to the extremes to push it through. And what was NCLB designed to do other than declare as many schools as possible as "failures" flipping the switch for private companies to start vacuuming taxpayer dollars out of the classroom and into the pockets of the private education industry.

Need evidence? One study has shown that NCLB's annual AYP requirements, by design, will result in almost every public high school in the Great Lakes region of the United States being declared a failure, subjecting it to NCLB's "reforms." Wiley, Mathis & Garcia, Ed. Policy Studies Laboratory (Sept. 2005).

What we are now witnessing is a generation of administrators and Board Members who are accustomed to the outsourcing of tasks historically performed in-house, and over-reliance on bogus research simply to stuff the record with what appears to be a legitimate basis for their actions, and "consultantitis" - the contracting of private, supposedly "expert" organizations to show everyone how its supposed to be done.

The history of this is so clear one can navigate it with closed eyes.

The burning question is: What will it take to wake the board from it's Pavlovian slumber of blind faith in MGJ, and when will the district pull back and start saving dollars, instead of wasting them on the burgeoning crop of private companies and consultants?

This is just bad policy, period. But it all plays right into the hands of the circling vultures waiting for the declaration of "disaster" or "crisis" so they can swoop in and displace the union teachers and whatever remnants of democracy that might remain at the end of the "destruction" phase we we are witnessing right now.

Sure, it's all heady stuff, but after a decade of books and mag articles about how great the current Reform Crowd is for public schools in this country, the results and "data" is starting to come in, and it's not looking so good for the current "Reform Crowd."

seattle citizen said...

Ballard High School is a "failure" under NCLB AYP. It had cells (groups; mainly race/ethnic) that didn't, AS A GROUP, didn't make "adequate yearly progress" Even if some students in that group DID, some didn't (according to the WASL, the be-all and end-all of student assessment, right?) so the "group" fails ("Ach! Schools are failing black group!") and the SCHOOL fails ("Ach! Some students failed, so the group failed, so the school failed! No matter that some of these students didn't take the test, therefore registered "0"s which killed the group average! We don't care!")

But Ballard doesn't take Title One money - it's not proportionately poor - so hey, it doesn't matter.

NCLB AYP (and now Race to the Top) exist for the exact purpose you outline...and they ridiculously claim whole schools to be failing based, conceivably, on just a few test scores....and the schools that will be impacted are likely to be filled with poorer children and children of color, who need oh, so much more that just what the WASL-NCLB-AYP tests, and need oh, so much more stability...yet they will be shoveled into for-profit educompanies, there to suffer regimentation and preparation to make them good worker drones while avoiding the possiblility that they get a rish and deep education that might allow them to compete with the wealthier kids who are not Title One.


We need a lawsuit SO badly.

seattle citizen said...

Ballard will be oh so much more wealthier and less diverse in two years: it's population will come from Lower Ballard, Magnolia and Queen Anne.

Most of the ELL studnts? Gone. Most of the other students of color? Gone. Most of the poorer students? Gone.

NCLB will not touch Ballard - too wealthy, its parent/guardians would raise h*** if some one so much as mentioned restructuring it.

It's only the poor, whose parent/guardians have been convinced that...whole schools fail! that will suffer this enormous crime.

Keepin'On said...

Um, excuse me Seattle Citizen. Ballard high school did NOT ask to have Queen Anne and Magnolia assigned to them, therefore becoming more white. The school district did. If you have been paying attention at all, you would know that Ballard parents have been fighting that assignment since the new SAP was released.

I find your comments profoundly insulting to all parents in Ballard. Many of us do not want the school to become more white/wealthy, either, but have no choice.

Why don't you pick on Ingraham or Roosevelt - they are getting whiter/wealthier too!

Get a grip.

Chris said...

Keepin on, I don't read SC's comments as an insult to Ballard parents. I agree Roosevelt is no different, but these schools are only singled out for their popularity and success. And Ballard parents have come out as formidable, vocal and organized - that's a compliment!

A better question is what parents in NCLB-proof schools can do when other schools are in danger of being disrupted and/or privatized. I don't know the answer to that. It's easy for reformers to paint us as the elite for which the system works. That's no excuse to stay quiet; still I struggle with exactly what to say, e.g. to board members.

Suggestions? SC and wseadawg are so articulate. I guess re-reading wsea last post we can ask "do disadvantaged kids really benefit?" and "who benefits."

seattle citizen said...

Keepin'on, I had absolutely no intention of "insulting" Ballrad parents. I don't think I did. I was merely pointing out, as Chris indicates, that under the new assignment plan things that are impacted by NCLB will get even more onerous.

I'm very appreciative of Ballard parent/guardians who are fighting the assignment plan, particularly baed on this problem with it, this lack of diversity that will ensue.

My sincerest apologies if you (or anyone) thought I was attacking Ballard, or its students or its parent/guardians. I was not. (I don't think I mentioned them...I mentioned the SAP...) Yes, Roosevelt will no doubt become "whiter" and "richer" also. Ingraham? I'm not sure.

So how do we change this, how do we keep valued diversity? And how do we help those students/parents/schools who are being nailed by NCLB, especially those that will be even more nailed if they become poorer and less white?

hschinske said...

Is Bob Vaughan the only one who's definitely said there were plans to do anything (other than individual counseling) with the PSAT results? (See Melissa's response to me on the thread at Is it possible that he originally thought that would be okay, but he's just not being allowed to do it?

Helen Schinske

reader said...

Seattle Citizen.... what planet are you on???? NO HIGH SCHOOL is impacted by NCLB!!!!

Not Ballard, not RB, not Cleveland, not Roosevelt. Nobody. None of them get Title 1 funds. End of story. What's your beef? Schools aren't going to be msfr "whiter and wealthier" with the new SAP... the "white, wealthy people" are the ones who have resegregated themselves under the CURRENT assignment plan. The "white, wealthy people" are going to have to go back to places like Ranier Beach! Won't RBHS now be "whiter and wealthier"???? Duh! Are you so caught up in conspiracy theories that you don't understand what's going on?

Now... there are a couple of elementary schools that are failing ARE also title 1. Are you saying those poor stupid people are so poor and stupid that they don't know that the WASL is a bunch of bs... in the way that a really, smart liberal guy like you can understand that the WASL is bs?

NCLB, in the rare cases where it applies, simply gives people a CHOICE. CHOICE, get it???? They get a choice to have free tutoring, and a choice to transfer schools. Isn't CHOICE the thing you wanted all along? If they wish to ignore the failing status, or WASL scores... that is perfectly fine too.

adhoc said...

Hale's FRE rate will increases from 20% to 28%.

Roosevelt's FRE will decreases from 19% to 13%.

Ingraham drops from 53% FRE to 39%.

Ballard drops from 26% FRE to 17%.

This was according to the first set of SAP boundary maps. Has anyone seen the updated data for the newest maps? Has it changed much?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Helen, I find it very odd, despite Bob's assertion that he has had a lot on his plate since last year, that it couldn't be done. (I do not doubt his workload in the least.)

However, while he does have a small staff, I wouldn't expect them to do the collation. Aren't there staff at SPS who do analysis of data for all staff? How could it be that you have to have only your staff do your analysis especially when it is basic info like that? It's taking the raw scores from each school, seeing how each school did overall, breaking it out by grade level as well as reporting how high schools did collectively as a district?

I think Dan is right; I think the results are not what they wanted to see.

reader said...

Bob Vaughan is really like a mirror... whatever you want him to say... he makes you think he actually did say. Whatever you believe in... he makes you think he believes that too.

StepJ said...


On this page, look at Data books A and B. The FRL info. is at the very end of each book.

dan dempsey said...

The PSAT results were provided to the high schools. It is clearly not much of a step to then look at how each high school performed.

My new really big problem with the news on 11/5/09 is why we never heard about the 10 million spent on 111.5 coaches.

I spent some time looking at the video of 6/3/09 board meeting and Don Kennedy's presentation.

At that meeting the board members were repeatedly asking about what budget reductions could take place so that classroom cuts could be eliminated for RIFs would impact students.

MGJ sat there and listened to Kennedy never mention the 111.5 coaches. What is going on here? Are we supposed to believe that MGJ and Kennedy decided to budget 10 million for coaching later than June 3, 2009?

I want to know how many of those 111.5 coaches are paid for with grant money restricted to coaching only and who the grant providers are?

This is a far far cry from the Transparency that MGJ often touts as a goal of her administration.

If Don Kennedy cannot explain this, he should resign or be fired. This is not a trivial situation. Listen to the testimonies of students and parents about the impact that loosing the RIFed teachers would have on them.

I am way past frustrated with MGJ and her deception. The queen of no-results delivers devastatingly poor decisions and apparently tricks the board into approving her practices by withholding the truth.

reader said...

Let's not forget that special education services are now being delivered via "coaches". That's right... somebody from central office comes and sits in the classroom. And that's exactly what it is: sits. Who is that supposed to help? Nobody listens to them, and they seem to know absolutely nothing. Then after a day or two, they leave having accomplished nothing? Who hires the "special education" coach? Well the new special education administration, which is really a principal retirement program. Do they know anything about delivering special education? Not at my schools... not anywhere I know of either.

hschinske said...

I'm not saying it's impossible to provide the PSAT scores. I think it ought to be quite easy to do. It's just that I am not at all sure anyone ever formally promised that the scores would be used that way, so the fact that the grant money was taken and the scores not reported isn't necessarily a violation of the formal agreement. I'd love to hear that I'm wrong and there was such an agreement that we could try to hold them to (not that I think it will make much difference anyway).

Helen Schinske

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, then, the next time we are told our kids have to/need to take a test (even if it's free), people should say "is the data in its entirety going to be release?". If the answer is no, then don't make your kid take the test.

I'm sure Boeing (who paid for it) got the PSAT figures but Helen is right. I don't think there was any agreement to parents.

dan dempsey said...

Yes there is likely little guarantee of "openness or transparency" in the SPS for that is just a "PR" spin phrase.

There was certainly no guarantee that the Administration would inform the Board or the public that 111.5 coaches would be on salary for 2009-2010 and that made insufficient funding available for "Real" teachers and many would be RIFed as a result.

So clearly concern about disclosure of PSAT results is really small potatoes and will be ignored.

Just assume that "secrecy" is an operational strategy for the MGJ admin.

seattle citizen said...

Reader, you're right - HSs don't get Title One, hence NCLB would, one supposes, not impact them one whit. Yet it will.
I was trying to make a point about how NCLB impacts poor schools and not wealthy ones. I guess I failed to make that point with you.

Choice is good when it's not negative choice: NCLB says, your school, the entire school, is "failing" so you get to choose to find some other school. The choce I value (of course) is REAL choice amongst various quality programs.

At least that's how I view it on the planet I'M on.

Your comments (including that oh-so-mature "duh") about how whites will have to go back to Rainier beach flies on the face of published FRL projections. Additionally, most ELL students, for example do NOT live in the Ballard zone - hence, Ballard loses almost all it's ELL diversity under the new SAP.

reader said...

But Seattle Citizen, you're still not making any sense. There is NO CHOICE for high schools. There is NO NCLB REMEDY. ZIP. NADA. Who cares if schools are failing if they aren't title 1? Nobody even knows that well-hidden fact. Does the district send out a message to Ballard students: "Hey Ballard kid... You big, fat loser! Your school failed again. Too bad for you, we don't have to do anything about it." Is that what happens? No. Silence. And, there's silence that RBHS is failing too. They are equal under the eyes of NCLB. Guess what? Nobody is looking! And nobody cares.

I get your drift for failing, title 1 elementaries. Those dumb parents get a negative letter... and an option. Perhaps you are right... they are just too plain stupid or ignorant to figure out if they got a good choice... or not. I happen to think most people are, in fact, smart enough to know if their very limited choice is worth taking. I, for one, would be very glad to have that choice.

seattle citizen said...

"Perhaps you are right... they are just too plain stupid or ignorant to figure out if they got a good choice"
I never said anyone was "stupid" or ignorant"...your words.

What I said was that wealthier parent/guardians would not stand for a school like Ballard being "restructured" under NCLB.

It's my opinion that poorer parent/guardians are often busy with other things, they might be new to the country, they might not be as eductated or connected...So they make easier targets when someone from on high says, "your school is failing, we have the solution, we are going to restructure the school or convince people to go the charter route..."

As I have noted before in this blog, I've talked to people who are poor, or victims of racism, and those I have talked to and heard say that the WASL scores give them their one shot at having at having a "level playing field": Their child can "compete" on this field regardless of race or class. So there is buy-in from poorer and/or more disenfranchised parent/guardians.

I think they've been sold a bill of goods, and I also think that they are less able to understand the ramifications of this.

I CERTAINLY never called anyone stupid. Ignorant, yes, in the neutral sense of the word, meaning "not knowing," (tho' I never even used that term)

But reader, I don't know why I bother to answer your comments - they're so caustic and directed at me personally it seems dumb to even play into your venom.

reader said...

... and yet, you do respond.

What school full of minorities has been closed or restructured because NCLB status? Hmmm. Let's see. None. Lots of schools with minorities and bad WASL scores have been closed or re-arranged. Why? Because they couldn't attract any students, but none because they were level 4 NCLB failing. Everyone is up in arms about the state of Madrona K-8... those ignorant people (ahem, in the nice way) are tilting like made at the WASL to no avail... and yet, they will never be restructured. So, again, what's your beef?

It seems you are mad at the downtrodden, because they don't see it your way and wish to go where they can pass the WASL... or you are mad at the uptrodden because they created the NCLB and/or they do pass the WASL.

My tone may be caustic... but it's only because your view is so hung up on your own values, and it shows utter (or apparent) disrespenct for the values of others. And it smacks of pity. Nobody likes pity. (Ignorance as a non-judgemental thing... sorry, but that isn't respect, it's pity) The WASL isn't ALL bad. If you can pass it... it does say something. And lots of people do value that.

seattle citizen said...

Yes, reader, it's odd that no schools have been closed due to NCLB AYP. Not in Seattle.

Pity? NO, anger. Yes, the WASL does tell us some things...But now it's a graduation requirement, it's fodder for federal action, it's used a comparison device to other schools around the nation that use dis-similar tests...

I'm angry that this "tool" has become such a powerful one.

And there's nothing wrong with pointing out ignorance - I'm ignorant of many things.

reader said...

Well, I completely agree with you that the WASL has become too overblown. The amount of time classrooms spend preparing for it is ridiculous. At least they are reducing the time and costs to administer and grade. And it is a grossly unfair graduation requirement to... practically everyone. The graduation requirement doesn't come from NCLB, btw. Our very own legislators screwed us with that one. But, making it a requirement, does make it more valid in some ways. At least people have to take it seriously when they do take it. You could never do any comparison if that weren't the case. And, at least the schools are working on something. My guess is, if they weren't working on the WASL... many might be doing even less... if you could imagine that.

mkd said...

As Dan Dempsey stated, "Seattle Public School spends about $10.3 million a year on 111.5 teacher coaches - about $92,000 per coach and a coach for every thirty teachers"

First, I do not understand the current school budget. However, hiring 111.5 coaches at a time when schools need money the most seems to me to be a really big waste of money that should be used for extra teachers, resources, supplies, security and books for AP at some of the poorer schools that would love to offer more AP classes if they only had the books. How about new history books for Rainier Beach High School? The current 1993 World Cultures: A Global Mosaic still has Saddam alive and in power and Myanmar does not exist. (Last year I picked up the book for $0.50 at a thrift store.) Mr. Dempsey is also correct, the Discovery series is not an effective way to teach math, at any level. Why not Saxon, far superior, and much cheaper? For the entire high school package, the cost was ~$300 (9-12).

Currently, it seems that the Seattle Public School system is advertising for coaches. The job description, "The purpose of this position is to plan, facilitate, lead and model the
implementation of district and school-based instruction programs in multiple schools , and to provide
for professional development for school-based coaches and teacher leaders. This position is a full-
time release position from classroom teaching duties. This position will serve the Middle-School level."

In a year where basic services are being cut, lunch programs, teachers, counselors and other essential staff have been laid off and class sizes are increasing, hiring coaches to teach teachers how to teach is a waste of time and money. Instead, use the money to hire and/or retain exceptional teachers, increase resources and programs at neighborhood schools and implement some of the action steps from the 2005 five year plan that were supposed to be implemented by now. Finally, let teachers teach a curriculum that is not always targeted to some test.