Wednesday, March 24, 2010

News of the Day

Randy Dorn, the Superintendent for OSPI, was arrested for drunk driving early Sunday morning. He has not yet been charged by the Orting city prosecutor. Here's the article from the Times.

After his arrest early Sunday for alleged drunken driving, Dorn said he hopes the public understands it's a private, legal matter that he can't yet discuss.

But when he can — and if he's convicted — some say his political survival will depend a great deal on what he says, and how he says it.

I honestly don't know how I would feel about a conviction. Is it possible he could go to jail, even briefly, for a guilty DUI verdict? What would this say to teens?

Reactions?

On Monday afternoon, Gov. Chris Gregoire called the arrest a "very unfortunate circumstance.

"My heart goes out to him," she said, "and thank goodness, nothing happened."

When asked whether it could imperil his ability to do his job, Gregoire said: "I leave that up to him."

This is certainly not a very nuanced reaction as she makes it sound like something out of his control. And yes, thank goodness nothing happened but the point is...it could have and that's why we don't just slap drunk drivers on the wrist (or do we?).

Meanwhile, over in Bellevue, students, parents and staff in the Bellevue district have organized a Facebook page over proposed cuts in arts. Here's the story from the Times. As I previously mentioned, the Bellevue district is taking the unusual step (well, for Seattle) of having public forums on their budget to gather input for cuts.

Hey parents! This is the final week to sign up for the GET program, our state's prepaid tuition program. Here's the Guaranteed Education Tuition website for info. Fees will go up when enrollment reopens in the fall and they expect them to be 14% higher.

Last, Lynne Varner at the editorial board of the Seattle Times had a column today about the Families and Education levy coming up for renewal next year and what it should contain. She seems to be indicated it should be more narrowly focused both in who it helps and what it does.

We should all be thinking about this issue. I'll try to do some research to chart what it has supported in the past and how it has evolved. Some of what the Mayor's recent forums on youth have been to hear ideas about what should be the focus of the levy.

15 comments:

monkeypuzzled said...

Just wanted to bring your attention to this story that aired on KUOW this morning (and will air again on the Conversation at noon I think):
http://kuow.org/program.php?id=19801
I find the teacher's input about ICS "training" particularly alarming.

ParentofThree said...

Wow, I loved how Ms. Campbell says parents are very happy, overall.

Really? Doesn't sound like either parents or teachers are very happy.

And yes the PowerPoint training is alarming, but not surprising.

Central Mom said...

I'm a party of 1. I know 4 parents w/ K-5 special needs kids in SPS. Outcome *within the past school year.*
1) Moved to private Seattle school
2) Raised heck w/ principal. Threatened suit. Stayed put, for now.
3) Raised heck w/ principal. Paying for outside services. Considering transfer to private Seattle school.
4) Moved mid-year to Eastside district for more responsive service.

Not a scientifically valid sample. But anecdotally powerful, I think.

Central Mom said...

This is OT, but nowhere else to post it and hoping others will take a look.

Took the time to go to the OSPI site and actually read the federal doc outlining what it will take to get those Fed grants being handed out for schools in need of radical improvement. In SPS: Cleveland, Hawthorne, West Seattle Elementary qualified.

There are 4 ways to get the grant..Turnaround, Closure, Restart, Transformation. To be brief, the only option for SPS this next year is to go for the Transformation or Restart model.

Now, for all 3, but esp. for Cleveland (yes back to STEM, NTN, etc.) the VERY FIRST mandatory item under "Transformation" is "Replace the Principal." Hello, isn't Cleveland's principal one of the integral people in choosing and rolling out NTN? Does she (and the other 2 school principals) realize this? Do incoming families and current staff?

There's more too, such as some stuff around teachers that does not sound like it lines up w/ the current teaching contract:

"Implement such strategies as financial incentives, increased opportunities for promotion and career growth, and more flexible work conditions that are designed to recruit, place, and retain staff with the skills necessary to meet the needs of the students in a transformation school.

Surely someone in the District dealing w/ Policy will have read and digested this stuff. Right? Right?!?!?!?!?!
Read my next post re: wording for Restart model

Central Mom said...

OK, part II.

The Restart model deals largely w/ Charters, so moot for SPS. But...there is a way around this by using an EMO. I've copied the info below. At outset, it does NOT appear that NTN satisfies this requirement, both because it does not provide "whole school operations" and (still being argued) whether it was chosen via a rigorous process.

From the document:
Restart model: A restart model is one in which an LEA converts a school or closes and reopens a school under a charter school operator, a charter management organization (CMO), or an education management organization (EMO) that has been selected through a rigorous review process. (A CMO is a non-profit organization that operates or manages charter schools by centralizing or sharing certain functions and resources among schools. An EMO is a for-profit or non-profit organization that provides “whole-school operation” services to an LEA.) A restart model must enroll, within the grades it serves, any former student who wishes to attend the school.

Maureen said...

How long has Princess Shareef been there? Isn't it written somewhere (no time to look right now) that they can keep a principal who has only been there a year or two?

Surely someone in the District dealing w/ Policy will have read and digested this stuff. Right? Right?!?!?!?!?!

oh ha ha ha .... I have to leave to catch my breath now!

Central Mom said...

So, in brief, I don't really understand how any of the 3 SPS schools can qualify for these Fed Grants of up to $2 million. And specifically in the case of Cleveland, how can the current plan for next year move forward?

Here is the document on OSPI...go "here" and access the Word doc titled "Federal Guidelines for School Improvement Grants" on the right side of the page.

And, PS: Where is the District explanation of how it is trying to get these schools to qualify for funding in the face of these requirements. Shouldn't there be a public disclosure out there in conjunction w/ any application that was submitted?

Central Mom said...

And one last thing. Some folks on Harium's blog have been trying to get him to vouch that he'll be sure the current plan for Cleveland doesn't make it ineligible for this federal funding. He has so far declined and persists in saying that he does not believe NTN and the funding are linked.

I wonder if other Board members are of the same opinion. I SURELY HOPE that someone discerning (let's go w/ deBell or KSB here) insists on official word from the District on this, publicly, before NTN's contract is signed. With up to $2 mil at stake, I hope our application was air tight and extremely compelling. I have to say that I fear otherwise.

hschinske said...

This was in the Seattle Times on March 2, 2010:


http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2011233526_seattlelist03m.html

extract: "All four approaches require removing a principal who has been at a low-performing school for more than two years. That's not an issue at Cleveland High and Hawthorne Elementary, but at West Seattle Elementary, the district must move Principal Gayle Everly, who started in 2005 at High Point Elementary before it merged with Fairmount Park to become West Seattle Elementary.

"District spokeswoman Patti Spencer said the superintendent and the district's chief academic officer are working with Everly on her next steps.

"At all three schools, the district plans to pilot a new evaluation system for teachers, in which teachers will be judged in part according to how much their students learn.

"If the district receives a grant for Cleveland High, it will use it to help pay for the new science-technology-engineering-math (STEM) program to start in the fall."

Helen Schinske

Central Mom said...

Sorry to monopolize this thread...but Maureen it does NOT have any language giving a newly arrived principal a hall pass.

It DOES say the following:

1. An SEA may award school improvement funds to an LEA for a Tier I or Tier II school that has implemented, in whole or in part, an intervention that meets the requirements under section I.A.2(a), 2(b), or 2(d) of these requirements within the last two years so that the LEA and school can continue or complete the intervention being implemented in that school.

Those numbers/letters refer to the strategies of Transformation/Turnaround/Restart.

It doesn't seem that any of those strategies were being employed at Cleveland or the other 2 schools in the past 2 years. Attempts at change for the better, yes. But NOT programs fitting the Fed's definition.

Sooooooo. Make of it what you will, but I still say that either we're not eligible, or if we are, then the principals are out of their jobs at West Seattle and Hawthorne for sure, and probably at Cleveland (unless OSPI buys NTN as being an EMO and accepts the school under the Restart model.)

Central Mom said...

Helen...That's what the reporter said, but go read the actual doc.

It says there's an exception IF the schools were already in a Transformation/Turnaround/Restart program as defined by the document itself . This is not the case at any of the schools. Unless the state and Feds giving grants aren't going to hold to the letter of the law here. Always possible, I guess. But wouldn't count on it.

hschinske said...

Other districts were getting told the same thing: see for example http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/files/12-16-09%20Turnaround%20School%20Update%20-%20Funding.pdf

on p. 6 it says

"Turnaround Model
• Replace the principal (optional if at
school less than two years)"

http://www.oms.nysed.gov/press/attachc_jan2010.html

"Q. What happens if the leadership of the school is new? Does he or she still need to be removed?

A. A school leader who has been at a school for less than two years and has already begun to implement some or all of the elements of an intervention strategy may remain at the school."

http://www.pressherald.com/opinion/lowest-achieving-list-not-necessarily-bad-news_2010-03-11.html

"The other calls for dramatic restructuring, including extending both learning and planning time. It also requires replacing the principal unless he or she has been on board for less than two years."

You may well be right, probably are, but I'm just saying this was a very persistent take on it. And the current Cleveland principal *has* been involved with the NTN business, which the district folks obviously think counts.

Helen Schinske

Central Mom said...

To be clear, I don't have an opinion of any of those 3 SPS principals one way or the other. But I AM worried that we aren't going to qualify for the funding, based on the fact that upon actually reading the doc we don't seem to have a strong case in either the Restart OR Transformation models.

If we applied under Restart, then NTN is a concern no matter what Harium currently thinks, unless he has non-public knowledge that NTN can be considered an EMO. (And Hawthorne and West Seattle certainly don't fit in this category.) Under Transformation, there are all kinds of steps outlined that don't seem to line up w/ any of the schools for next year. Again...unless the State/Feds play fast and loose w/ the stated qualifications....

seattle citizen said...

OT, but here's some more news of the day:

While Super in Chicago, Arne Duncan had a file of names of people (prominent people) who had asked for help getting into specific schools. It's unclear how mych help he gave them. A spokesperson says, basically, that principals were "asked" about letting these students in, but there was no pressure on principals to accept, they could make their own decisions.

As if.

http://www.nytimes.com/
2010/03/24/education/
24chicago.html?ref=todayspaper

"...According to The Chicago Tribune, about three-quarters of those in the log [40 pages]had political connections. The log noted “AD” as the person requesting help for 10 students, and as a co-requester about 40 times, according to The Tribune. Mr. Duncan’s mother and wife also appeared to have requested help for students.
“The fact that his name might be next to some of these names doesn’t mean he was trying to get the kid in a school,” Mr. Cunningham said. “He was only asking after someone said, ‘Hi, Arne, is there any way to get into this school?’ ”
Mr. Cunningham said he did not believe principals would have felt any special pressure because Mr. Duncan was the source of the inquiry. “We were always very clear with them that it was up to the principal to make the decision,” he said. "

StepJ said...

Rep. Carlyle has a new post on SPS funding on his blog...