Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Seattle Times on the Levy and Co-Principals

Catching up with the Seattle Times we find an editorial with unquestioning and unconditional support for the levies and a puff piece on the assignment of Lisa Escobar as co-principal at Rainier Beach High School.

More informed and nuanced discussion of these topics can be found in the comments that follow.

31 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, it's interesting because this is the Times' second editorial on the levies. I'll have to go back but I don't recall that many editorials on a single ballot measure. I'm betting there will be another on Sunday.

As for the RBHS principal column, Ms. Brodeur doesn't point out the obvious. Why does RBHS need two principals? If it's a great idea there, why not more schools? Oh right, it costs a lot of money.

I'm thinking with the push of resources for both Cleveland and RBHS that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, once and for all, wants to throw as much at the SE high schools as possible and then say, "look, I did everything I could." Everything, of course, except ask people in those communities what they want.

dan dempsey said...

What SE did not want was a continuation of failing math programs just so we could be aligned with UW thinking on what is best for us. See Cleveland's WASL Math data for the Black 50% of the population under UW guidance.

So now instead of a math program that works ... we get more philosophically aligned BS programs instead of a plan for performance based on a record of proven accomplishment.

We get the latest crazy ed idea for math Project Based Learning, complete with its record of non-achievement.

What do these people, Central Admin, want?

Clearly to be part of the Club Ed leading edge elites..... and NOT results.

If you want to produce engineers rather than those who appreciate engineering and appreciate math. Then teach the students math starting at grade 1 with Singapore Math not that failed EDM that keeps sucking funds.

I think one thing that SE probably wants is for MGJ to leave town but like you say... no one asked them or us or we.

ParentofThree said...

NPR had a story about the loss of career/college staff in all but two high schools. Seems to me that before you add a second principal to one underenrolled school you should add one or two of these positions back, maybe splitting between 2-3 schools.

Central Mom said...

Here's one for another thread.
KUOW reported this a.m. that if Seattle chooses to annex North Highline (part of White Center) that perhaps the greatest issue would be combining their school district w/ Seattle's. According the report, that is the biggest worry in the minds of City Council. (Way to go, Council, in stepping out of traditional areas of responsibility and noticing this huge issue.)

Central Mom said...

And may I add that once again I learned more in a 60 second KUOW report on education than I have in 2 months worth of Seattle Times stories. Their education reporting completely lacks on the investigative front. Granted, Nicole Brodeur's job is to right personality pieces for her columns. But, seriously, where is the meat, Linda Shaw? What do you do all day?

dan dempsey said...

So you miss the PI and Jessica Blanchard. Is the problem Linda Shaw or Seattle Times editorial disinterest in investigative reporting of the facts?

If a local newspaper wishes to survive and prosper it seems it would be good to allow reporters to actively report on the local scene and inform the public. In this regard the Times is a dismal failure especially in education.

When I ran for School Board in 2007, I got to talk with Lynne Varner for an extended time. Ms. Varner is remarkably uninformed and misinformed about many education topics, yet she is informing the public about education issues.... Well, it is the Times and Education, what else would one expect?

wseadawg said...

If the Business Round Table wants it, the Times will support it. There's nothing surprising there.

That's why the best journalism these days comes from Real Change and neighborhood blogs, esecially the West Seattle Blog (which Rules!)

Central Mom said...

And yet another PI story about violence in SPS, with the headline
"Another Seattle teacher assaulted; police again not immediately called"

dan dempsey said...

WseaDawg,

I am perplexed and need help on this.

The WA BRT has a definite push on certain issues but I don't get the full picture.

BRT was unhappy with Randy Dorn for his stance on Math accountability as he recommended two levels of performance both acceptable for graduation. Dorn made perfect sense in essence we failed to teach the kid's math so this is the fairest and best solution.

Was BRT wanting 85% of kids not to graduate or for further reducing the level of the acceptable performance bar?

Is the BRT unable to read and do research so they buy all the "Happy Talk" like our seemingly mindless SPS leaders?

It is clear that Project Based Learning can provide an avalanche of business opportunities just like NCLB restructuring and interventions.

So is anyone in this for improving student performance? Do they all just talk a good game to improve their own shot selection aimed at short-term bottom line profitability, while the nation becomes less competitive?

Is it about more H-1 visas for Microsoft and more off-shoring and creating demand for charter school services and getting access to those big dollars squandered on public education with a needed redirection.

If it is ... then long term things are looking really bleak.

Short term it is plenty bleak if the board continues on the path to destruction with a positive vote for NTN STEM.....

because it will indicate that the intelligent application of relevant data still is NOT happening in Seattle. How sad is this situation? Really Sad.

================
On the brighter side I've been really impressed with former Intel CEO, Craig Barrett ... but little of what he has been saying for the last decade has been heeded.

WseaDawg..... help me out.

Dora Taylor said...

Speaking of math, Dan, I sat in on the Garfield PTSA meeting last night where Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was to discuss the math and science curriculum alignment.

I requested a thread on this but since it didn't happen, I will provide my notes here.

Notes from the Field: The Garfield PTSA Meeting

A friend asked me to go to the Garfield meeting to listen to Dr. Goodloe-Johnson speak about the curriculum alignment in math.
Because I live across the street from Garfield and I’m always up for more information about our schools, I agreed to go and take notes for them.

Ah, Garfield. I will not go on about the renovation but at sometime everyone needs to just walk into the front door and check it out. It never ceases to amaze me how much money was spent on that building.

To add insult to injury, when I walked in they were painting the walls in the cafeteria! The same color! I didn’t see any damage to the walls and could not understand why they were doing that. After they finish up there, they need to get over to the Meany building and do a little scraping, patching and painting of those walls. Those walls have peeling paint and we won’t EVEN talk about the color.

But, I was not there to review the d├ęcor, I was there to take notes about our math and science curriculum alignment and I was ready, pen in hand.

Blum and Sundquist were there and so was the Executive Director of SEA, Glenn Bafia.

First there was the PTSA business and then an introduction to our superintendent.

There was a handout that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson referred to that I was able to obtain, they ran out. It is, according to DGJ, on the SPS website and it is titled “Strengthening Talent in Every Seattle School/ January 2010”. OK, I’m ready.

Well first of all, let me say that our superintendent can read well and very quickly. She read through those bullet points at an impressive pace. There was no time for interjection or questions. After the first set of bullet points, while she was catching her breath, a parent asked a question. Whoa, what timing!

Now I will give you my bullet points from my notes regarding this part of the conversation:
MGJ stated that there was a “Validation Process” that a suggested course could go through to ensure that it met the requirements for core curriculum.
There would be a manager for each subject such as a “Science Manager” who would oversee the process.

There would also be a manager for the Advanced Learning Department.
Then there were a lot of questions about the math and science core curriculum but DGJ said that she was not prepared to answer those questions. Well, that’s too bad because that’s why we were all there, including me.

Then there were a few questions about the graduation requirements and the core curriculum but again, DGJ did not have that information. She said that we could get it “on the web”.

Well, moving right along. At this point a member of the Garfield Foundation got up and fielded a question about an accelerated Science program. He said that a student could take an exam to bypass a particular core curriculum class but that it would be discussed in the future. Apparently that has not been worked out yet.

(Continued below)

Dora Taylor said...

Next there was a presentation to DGJ about the Read/Write program that seems to be successful at Garfield. We were told that about 100 students at Garfield can read only up to the 4th grade level. Because of the number of students and the lack of funds, they are not able to meet the needs of these students and that there is a wait list. Some of these students will not be able to participate in the program and will graduate reading at that lower level. The presenter said that it takes about one semester to get the students up to their grade level. They were requesting support for this program by SPS

Wow. Awesome program! Maybe the Alliance could pitch in here and use some of those thousands that it’s thrown away on the NCTQ report and save these children. Or maybe Mr. Gates could throw a few million this way instead of spending his money on creating more assessment tests for our kids.

The next program is the “CAN”, College Access Network”, program that is at Garfield, West Seattle and Franklin. It has been successful at placing almost 100% of its’ students into colleges. The Garfield PTSA was requesting support for this program.

DGJ said that she had not seen the request but would review it.

(Continued below)

Dora Taylor said...

The next item on the agenda was, here we go again, “Teacher effectiveness, hiring and retention”, one of my favorite subjects.

It was stated, by the PTSA Co-chair, that we lost many of our good teachers because of the rif (the rif that I still don’t see the point of since just about everyone was hired back. The district knew that there were 1,200 students over-enrolled in April and yet they were determined to rif teachers. Whose fault was that, the teachers’ union or bad management on part of our administration? More to follow on my theory later.)

I caught the quote “Ineffective teachers in front of the classroom” from the co-chair. So this is the crux of our entire problem, bad teachers and the union. Wow, how simple, or simplistic, the answer must be.

Where we are in education, of course, would not have anything to do with class size, the socio-economic situation of many of our students, buildings that are too hot or too cold to be in, hungry kids, teachers having to deal with not only over-crowded classrooms but special needs students who want to be mainstreamed and children with behavioral issues. Underfunding? Not even brought up. It’s the teachers.

“Seniority trumps” for good reason, we have “lost many young, good teachers” How many? Most of them were brought back. And the final question to DGJ, “What can we do to make it clear” that we are unhappy with this situation?

DGJ responded that there were avenues to go through but unfortunately I did not write down what she mentioned.

The co-chair piped in again and began to blame the teachers for the lower reading levels. If I was a teacher right now in the SPS system I would be truly upset at this time. They are getting blamed for everything, all the ills of the world, and what do they get for it? Low pay, little support, lousy work environment, in most schools at least, not enough materials and books, overcrowded classrooms, need I go on?

Then someone got up and suggested that there be a vote on the last seven bullet points on the handout that had been provided by DGJ. It all looked pretty good if not rather vague. One point did stand out to me though. “Align pay for our instructional professionals to the district’s strategic goals”. Hmmm, what does that mean?

Several people had that same question and concern. Was this another way of introducing the idea of merit pay? Someone ask DGJ if teacher performance should be a factor in evaluating our teachers. Our superintendent responded that there was a four-tiered evaluation process in place that was used.

More discussion ensued and then the superintendent went exit right. I don’t recall her saying good-by but she must have.

The discussion continued and I found it to be interesting and provocative. There should be more discussions like this one. Unfortunately it didn’t happen at the Seattle PTSA meeting when the powers that be were pushing through a similar statement called the Community Values’ Statement.

I won’t go into the details but it did eventually come down to a vote on supporting the bullet points and it was split down the middle. 27 yes, 14 against and 13 abstaining (not enough info or too vague).

Interesting evening, glad I went.

By the way, the acoustics in the cafeteria are horrendous. Next time I would suggest meeting in the library.

Signing off for now.

Josh Hayes said...

Dora, thanks for the notes. That's very useful stuff.

Central Mom, thanks for the link. What's most horrifying about that story is all the comments by readers. Those people are insane. Some think that corporal punishment will solve problems like this (sure; I can just see a 5-foot-nothing 60 year old lady trying to paddle a six foot four, 250 pound linebacker,) some think that attaching shock collars to kids is a good idea. Surely that's a joke, but if so, it's a godawful one. It sure makes me grateful for the grown-up serious talk on THIS blog. Thank you all!

WV: And for God's sake, don't proonme.

h2o girl said...

Josh I read those comments at the P-I and thought the exact same thing - thank goodness for the people here! Some of the comments made me naseous, actually.

Joan NE said...

Follow-up to this information from SPSMom:

"KUOW reported this a.m. that if Seattle chooses to annex North Highline (part of White Center) that perhaps the greatest issue would be combining their school district w/ Seattle's."

This year, SPS got 14M for Title I. SPs currently is at risk of losing its Title-I eligibility.

If North Highline School District has significantly more than 40% of its students qualifed for Free and Reduced Price Lunch, then absorbing North Highline SD
will help SPS to reduce its risk of losing its Title-I allocation.

The District has many policies and priorities that are encouraging wealthier families to leave the District. These policies and priorities are also helping SPS to reduce its risk of losing its Title I eligibility.

dan dempsey said...

Dora,

Thanks for the fabulous report. Hardly unusual that MGJ cannot answer questions, as that is her special-ity.

"DGJ responded that there were avenues to go through but unfortunately I did not write down what she mentioned."

Almost correct ... not avenues but dead ends. No need to write those down.

For three years, I've been driving down the avenue of public testimony and writing to the board suggestions based on the intelligent application of relevant data. I could just as well been running in a hamster's exercise wheel as driving down a suggested avenue.

Did MGJ suggest driving down the Avenue of King County Superior Court? How about the Avenue of Federal Court? Those are the only two viable avenues that actually go anywhere as far as I can see. And perhaps they are only illusions. I would be really leery of putting much time into MGJ's suggestions for she doesn't want to listen and will not.

She won't even answer school directors' questions at work sessions ... perhaps the directors need to select a different avenue.

dan dempsey said...

A story of performance management:

While occasionally lashing the slaves the Captain roared:"Row harder and faster we are not making adequate progress".

The more effort the slaves expended the worse things got as the Captain mindlessly never realized the boat was going in the wrong direction.

It was NOT an employee based performance management difficulty. It was a poor administrator. There was no "Board of Directors" to advise the Captain.
========================
In Math Project Follow Through reported that in teaching educationally disadvantaged children who normally exited grade 3 at the 20th percentile. When various models were employed through grades k-3... the most effective model saw the children exiting grade three at the 48th %-ile in math an improvement of 28 points ..... while the worst model the same one Seattle uses saw the children exiting grade 3 at the 12th %-ile a precipitous decline of 8 points.

This is a performance management problem that is all about the Captain's performance not the slaves.... don't you get it? Wrong Direction.

The teachers in Seattle are doing fabulously well by following the pacing plan with great fidelity of implementation they are getting exactly the results I predicted would be coming three years ago.

Why would we spend money on performance management? If MGJ was truely interested she would read John Hattie's "Visible Learning" and begin using practices and instructional materials that have a history of producing achievement. Also she would need to recommend stopping the use of ineffective or detrimental practices and materials.

MGJ is too consumed with pushing through the fads of the current day and following Captain "Broad's" direction, so the she can remain on "Club Ed's Elite team of selected Stars" that she notices nothing.

So where is the Board?

wseadawg said...

Dan: Whew! You are asking for a mouthful. One step at a time.

The BRT likes MGJ. MGJ is business-friendly, which includes directing large amounts of funds toward, well, private businesses.

They say they'd hire more local kids if the kids were better at math and science, yet, they lay off highly paid technical workers all the time, or outsource their jobs to "stay competitive."

So, will they benefit from a lot of locally grown talent knowledgeable in science and technology? Yes they will. Just like the California farmers benefited from a surplus of unemployed fruit pickers in The Grapes of Wrath. The more pickers available, the less the farmers paid. That's what DeBell and company - the same folks, along with MGJ saying "if we were a business, blah, blah, blah..." - have not considered at all. They don't appear to grasp that, given a choice, a business must outsource if that is what produces the most shareholder value.

More workers competing for the same number of jobs equals lower demand and lower cost to the employer. Talk about a win-win for the business lobby.

It's fine for people to be pro-business, but it's in everyone's interests, businesses included, to have a balanced and diversified economy. Is anyone talking about that at all at SPS? Not that I've heard.

In short the tech industries win whether they hire local talent or not. The more workers available, the less they'll have to pay. I want to believe they're benevolent to the core, but some of our business folk really are in it just for the money. Sorry to shock anyone with that revelation.

wseadawg said...

Oh, and the Randy Dorn thing: 100% political stance. They had to take Dorn to task publicly for supposedly lowering the bar while they advocate more stringent standards. If Dorn had said, "Okay, will you pay for their remedial math classes and an extra year or two of school(?)," the reply would've been....Crickets.

There's what we want, and what we have to do. Nobody wants to step up and do both, and NOBODY wants to pay for it. So Dorn acknowledges reality and gets kicked in the head for it.

Theo said...

In the most recent issue of the Garfield Messenger (the GHS student newspaper) there is an article about GHS not being able to find a qualified teacher/engineer to work with the Project Lead the Way curriculum. The article also further stated that upwards of $200,000 (their figure) worth of cutting edge technology is sitting locked in a room at GHS for want of an instructor. I know there is a MESA program at RBHS that is headed by an Engineer and is also the Math dept. chair. Maybe it would be put to better use than filling a closet?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh Theo, I'm way ahead of you. I suggested to the Board that instead of buying all that equipment for the PLTW program at Cleveland to just move Garfield's equipment. Boy, that made some people unhappy and now Garfield is again looking for a PLTW instructor. I didn't know that RBHS could use it as well.

Theo said...

@ Melissa
Good on ya for staying on top of the equipment that's on site! I remember reading about those 3D fabricator units years ago and thinking how cool it would be to work with one. Hearing about one in a closet was terribly sad. Hopefully someone will be able to use it!

dan dempsey said...

The person refers to is RBHS Math department chair, Kim Lessig. Degree in Chemical Engineering and a former Chemical Engineer.

Ms. Lessig is a truly awesome teacher doing a great job. This in spite of kids coming to RBHS from Connected Math using middle schools, and a huge proportion also coming from 1 or 0 parent homes.

She also worked with Paul Kurose of North Seattle CC in a leadership position on the Transition Math Project trying to put together an improved plan (i.e. fix the SPS k-12 math approach) to get high schoolers better prepared for College level math.

Kim Lessig is an incredible asset to our SPS community and according to math students a super teacher. Mike Rice can confirm this report if needed.

wseadawg said...

And without sounding like a Trotskyite, Marxist, or pure pessimist, my main concern is that high school learning, whether in a STEM environment, or typical comprehensive high school environment, will not be the farm system for hi-tech workers of the future. Colleges will help hone those skills, while some tech majors will switch majors and head off toward humanities, medicine, whatever. But no matter what the experience, the real world they'll enter after that will be the proving ground, not High School.

The narrative thus far would lead one to believe Cleveland STEM will prepare kids for a jobs at Google or Microsoft, when that just isn't true. We need smart kids who can pull A's or (God Forbid) B's in History, English, Math and Science, who are ready to go on in college toward whatever fields suit them. And we all know darn well that most of us wound up in a very different place when we graduated than where we thought we were going when we entered college as wet behind the ears, bright eyed kids.

In my HS days, we had Honors Math and CP English, but never on par, or with the depth I got in college and beyond. And that was fine then, and I believe is fine today. We need well rounded, smart, capable kids who could just as easily choose a career in computing as go to med school, write poetry, play music, or become a documentary film-maker.

It seems we are making the stakes so high for our children, that their mid-life crises will occur at 20 or 25 instead of 40. It sickens me to think I need to steer my kid, or have them commit to a dedicated career path in High School. Yet, that seems to be the mentality of our society today.

Sorry to be off topic, but the new film "Race To Nowhere" will be widely distributed soon, and I think anyone who reads this blog, cares about kids, and cares about Education, should see it. It will challenge us all, and those in charge of our schools, who think they've got it all figured out.

I'd like to see our schools focus on teaching our kids to be good human beings and conscientious citizens, vs. the "human capital" of the future. What an awful way to describe human beings.

dan dempsey said...

WseaDawg... Thank You.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Kudos to Wseadawg! That is my thinking exactly, and why, as a south Seattle resident, I was not overjoyed with the idea of STEM at Cleveland. First and foremost SS needs a quality comprehensive high school that offers a wide variety of quality classes. Garfield offers three self-selected "tracks" depending on the level of college one plans to attend—from Community College to an Ivy League.

Enough with the academies that force our children into specializing. Give them a well-rounded education and let them figure out their career path in college. As Wseadawg notes, it's hard enough to determine your path even then.

dan dempsey said...

Solvay Girl,

I've reworked my testimony for tonight a bit.

I sure wish you and WseaDawg were on the testimony list tonight.

What a concept giving the community what they want. Unfortunately that is rarely MGJ's style or plan.

Send the board members a letter NOW.
Provide them with some SE parent insight.

My revised testimony is HERE.

I've toned down the tone substantially.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Thanks Dan.
I have written the board with these sentiments, so let's hoe that helps some.

dan dempsey said...

SolvayGirl,

I am trying to get this slipped into someone's testimony:

The Southeast families have yearned for effective efficient k-12 education the culmination of which would be a Great Comprehensive high school.

This poorly researched proposal when magnified by the Student Assignment Plan misses the real desires and needs of the Southeast community completely. It reveals how far out of touch the "Broad" Superintendent is from Seattle Families and their needs.

Proposals must Serve Seattle families NOT the "Broad Foundation".

dan dempsey said...

Solvay & WseaDawg,

Quick NTN fact on Specialization. The mother school of NTN is NT Napa.

Enrollment 350 with 19% low income
when its math scores are compared with the Napa Valley Unified District Average they are lower in math performance. Napa Unified is 44% Low Income. The NVUSD mean exceeds the NT Napa mean in every math EOC in 2008 and 2009.

Well at least you would expect that NT Napa will be producing a higher percentage of Advanced Students.

Nope!!! on all of the Math EOC's in 2008 and 2009. The district out performed NT Napa. In fact the average of the courses was 8.0% advanced for the district and 2.2% advanced for NT Napa. I guess that STEM specialization is not working out very well for the "M" as in mathematics.

spedvocate said...

SPSMom, even if Seattle does annex Highline, the school district boundaries do not have to change. There are parts in South Seattle where students live in Seattle proper, but are part of the Renton school district. Specifically, Bryn Mawr elementary is actually in Seattle... but is in the Renton district.