Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Need a Little Help

The District had committed to providing quarterly updates on the Strategic Plan for both the Board and the Public. They skipped one for the Board last year and there hasn't been one for the public in about nine months. I have contacted District staff about this, but have not received the courtesy of a response. Perhaps some other folks would like to try to get an answer. Why were the community updates suspended and when will they resume? Who is accountable for meeting this commitment and who has the job of holding that person accountable?

There is a community engagement protocol for the Strategic Plan, but no more than a couple of the plan initiatives are even trying to meet the requirements of that protocol. I have written to the Board and the staff about this a number of times without response. Perhaps some other folks would like to try to get an answer. Who is accountable for meeting the community engagement protocols and who has the job of holding those people accountable?

There has been no response to the APP Review, done about two years ago. When will we see a response? When will we even see any news about the efforts to make a response? An aligned, written, taught and tested APP curriculum was supposed to have been implemented concurrent with the splits in the program. The legitimacy of the splits was predicated on the implementation of this curriculum, but there is none. Where is the APP curriculum? When will it be implemented? How will it be enforced? Who will enforce it? Likewise, all of the same questions for Spectrum. I haven't been able to get a satisfactory response. Perhaps some other folks would like to try.

The Program Placement decisions were announced as a sort of footnote to the transition plan of the new Student Assignment Plan. A number of the decisions lack rationale. Some of the decisions violate the rationale given for other decisions. When are we going to see a review of these decisions that includes legitimate rationale and data to support that rationale? I haven't been able to get answers. Perhaps some other folks would like to try.

13 comments:

deteechur said...

they are very busy getting together new policies to dump all blame for everything bad on teachers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I asked Harium about Michael DeBell's statement to district staff about the "coaches". Michael said that he wanted to see what results we were getting for that many coaches but didn't specify what type or by when. I asked Harium about this and while he has his doubts about the coaches, he didn't really offer any kind of benchmarks or timetable either.

Charlie, I think there is definitely some timidity on the part of Board members to hold the district accountable both for what it says and for what they say. I'm sure they fret over looking like they are micromanaging but if the district gives itself benchmarks and a timetable, then hold them to it.

Stu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stu said...

It's a whole lot easier for the board to ignore your requests than it is to admit they've got no control over the district; It's a whole lot easier for the district to blow off the obligations than it is to assign blame/accountability.

I think both entities hide behind the constant upheaval. By adding more and more things to the heap, they figure the public will just forget about the earlier stuff and concentrate on the latest indignation. It's much harder to hit a moving target.

They'll never acknowledge anything about the APP review because the only thing they did was split the program, in a way that the reviewers specifically said shouldn't be done.

MGJ and staff, with the board's blessing, decide they want something and then they come up with a reason for it. The APP thing was a great example. The ONLY reason that makes any sense to have split the program was to raise test scores for the non-APP communities that might share a building. (I didn't say it was a good reason but it's the only one that makes any sense.) Of course, they can't say that out loud so they just say "we're splitting it" and then keep coming up with reasons until one sorta sticks.

1. Increase accessibility
(Nope . . have to change entry rules to do that; and more "north" kids choose not to attend than south kids. Also, "North" isn't "North.")
2. Building's falling down
(nope . . . just put a million in there)
3. TT Minor and Hawthorne will be perfect . .
3a. No, wait. TT Minor and Montlake . .
3b. No, wait . . Montlake has really strong parent group and lawyers . . . we meant Thurgood Marshall
(spent all of three weeks "studying" that last one.)
4. Those rich white kids from the north end get everything they want while the poor kids in the south get nothing.
(Oops . . that one was only supposed to be inside the head....of course, Lowell was the most cost-efficient program around and money's been poured into the south end for years. . .and, of course, the APP kids aren't all rich and white . . . and, of course, sharing the building does virtually nothing for the non-APP kids in terms of math, science, english, etc . )

I would not hold your breath for real answers.

stu

Stu said...

One thing to add . . .

As long as 70% of the people choose to keep giving the district money, what motivation is there for change? It's very easy for the board and MGJ to look at the election results and consider them a complete validation of their methods, goals, and results.

stu

dan dempsey said...

Stu said:
"....of course, Lowell was the most cost-efficient program around and money's been poured into the south end for years. . "

Yup... which just goes to show when your choices for instructional materials and associated practices are continually terrible, no matter how much bailing is done as long as one keeps enlarging the hole in the boat it keeps on sinking.

dan dempsey said...

Note on the above: It is important to blame those bailing and NOT those drilling and enlarging the holes in the boat.

Michael said...

Charlie, if you pose your questions or requests as Public Records Requests to Joy Stevens they have to, by law, respond with something in 5 days. That response could be that they will have to get back to you, but they have to give you a timeline. Try it.

Stu said...

That response could be that they will have to get back to you, but they have to give you a timeline

You gotta admit it would be funny to get a stack of official "we'll get back to you" or "that documet doesn't exist" letters. Perhaps THAT would be something KUOW or the Newspapers could respond to.

stu

zb said...

"Charlie, if you pose your questions or requests as Public Records Requests to Joy Stevens they have to, by law, respond with something in 5 days. That response could be that they will have to get back to you, but they have to give you a timeline. Try it."

And, if you post your request here, along with the appropriate contact information, I'll send in a request, too. I'm not up for doing the detail work required to get the request ready, but I'm willing to lend my name to trying to get the information you're looking for (of course, I'll use my real name in making the request). That's especially true if you think that *your* requests are specifically being ignore (as Melissa thought a while ago).

Steve said...

I'm with ZB. I don't know where the background information on all these requests are, but if it could be made available here, I would ask for it. In fact, I think there is value in having a *lot* of people asking for the exact same information, perhaps even using the same wording. They can be unresponsive to a few requests, but if they get, say, 50 in the same week, and we all post on this blog that we asked for it, then we have a story to tell ("50 parents asked for information this week, and not a single one of them have received a response.").

Good opportunity for collective action here, which can lead to some power.

Charlie, if you have time, post the info we all need (w/references, etc.) so we can ask.

Steve

Ben said...

You people make it sound like splitting APP was simple.

You're ignoring how much work it takes to sabotage a successful program!

It's a career!

Charlie Mas said...

I don't think that any public records request would help with a lot of these things. These are commitments to community engagement that were made but are not being kept. Each of these choices demonstrates their contempt for the community. Our best hope is to somehow shame them into doing them, but these people don't appear capable of shame.