Friday, March 19, 2010

School Board Meeting Roundup, Part 2

The Directors did their comment section, mostly about community meetings. However President DeBell did make a fairly major announcement. He read a formal statement that he would be recusing himself from any discussion or vote about certificated staff negotiations. His wife is a certificated nurse with SPS. He said as a practical matter his wife's employment would not affect his impartiality or judgment but he concluded that the statutes regarding his role would indicate that he should refrain talking to other Board members about that issue. He said he would attend Board meetings about this particular negotiation but only to listen. Steve Sundquist, in his role as Vice-President, would chair those meetings.

Also as I said elsewhere, he said that they are in the processing of figuring out the non-compliance for Native American Students funding. (He also complimented Director Carr for meeting with some Native American parents.) He said now they are on a path to compliance. He said that the Native American community had NO fault in this (his emphasis) and that it was SPS staff who did this.

Action Items
I missed about a half hour of the meeting coming home. When I turned on the tv, they had blasted through the Consent Agenda and were discussing President DeBell's policy management amendment granting autonomy to certain schools that met certain criteria. It became apparent as I listened that Director DeBell had withdrawn his amendment (so there was never a vote).

Director Martin-Morris said that he proposed that the Curriculum and Instruction Committee take on the work of school autonomy and promise to get it done by October. Director Maier said he supported that idea and felt it wasn't part of performance management and should not be limited to high-performing schools. Director Smith-Blum said that instructional and performance policies are linked. "We want to preserve our teachers' innovative options and want to craft policies that allow for that and encourage it."

On the performance management policy, the discussion went pretty much as you might expect. Steve said it's a critical foundation but it should include the circumstances at each school. Betty said most of the policies were old and outdated but she had been absent and so didn't feel comfortable voting so she was voting no (why she didn't just abstain, I don't know). Sherry urged people to understand that the policy's intent is to help teachers help students succeed. She referenced the SAP in her remarks. The vote was 6-1.

On the lease contract for science materials, I wrote about this previously. Staff came back with all sorts of reasons why we have to pay for leased space to store science materials when we have many closed buildings. What was interesting to me is that the district and the Board never seem to say, "Maybe we can ask the City for a variance on this zoning." Betty and Harium both seemed to wonder why it couldn't be done to have this in an SPS building. But the staffer said to use a closed building you have heat it and have a custodian and that would cost a lot. (Bet it's cheaper than leasing but apparently warehouse space costs are going up so guess what? now's the time for SPS to lease. Of course, it just worked out that way.) The vote was 5-2.

Voting on building a new greenhouse at Hale. Again, not picking on Hale but here's the deal. Hale has a nice horticulture program. It's not huge but it's part of the school. There is a greenhouse used that was built on City property (with permission) but now the City wants the property back. So naturally we're building a $600K greenhouse elsewhere (by Summit). As watchdog Chris Jackins rightly points out this was NOT part of Hale's BEX project but since the City wanted their land back, what could they do?

What they could do in these tight financial times is put the Horticulture program on hiatus until BEX IV. I know, I know but guess what else comes after this discussion at the Board meeting? How to find money for reopening the 5 schools. They need capital money. This $600K should go to that effort. (In addition, since the head of BEX himself said that the Ingraham addition is likely to not happen and would likely need to go out to bid again, Ingraham's addition should roll over into BEX IV as well. There's somewhere around $10M there. That's a chunk of money that could really help with those 5 reopening buildings.)

But yes, the greenhouse passed unanimously.

Introduction Items.

Then there was discussion around the SPS bonds that will be put up for sale in April to try to get money to lower the costs on the debt for the headquarters. The way staff put it, it is sort of like refinancing your home.

NTN contract discussion followed. Here is what Dr. Enfield said at the beginning:
"The original contract was approved at the previous meeting." Those were her EXACT words.

She said each academy will have "a unique school culture and professional learning community". She then said at the time the contract was presented to the Board, it was still in draft form with changes being made to reflect the program for this fall. (Still begs the question: why was it voted on? Can no one admit a mistake?) Dr. Enfield said that each academy will have an "academy administrator".

Director Sundquist then said something I found funny. It was that he essentially understood that the issue was that the contract match the understanding between the parties and what staff had communicated to the Board. Yes, that's generally what you want a contract to do.

Michael then touched on one my testimony points about the contract. I had pointed out that the agenda item said, " Under this project-based learning approach, teachers design rigorous projects tied to state and district standards...."

However the contract states:

To the extent District or any of its employees or agents creates or contributes to any New Materials, then District agrees that in consideration for the Services and License and in compliance with the terms and conditions of this Agreement District will assign, and will direct its employees and agents to assign, to NT upon the request of NT, all right, title and interest of District in any New Materials. District will cooperate with, and to the best of its ability, assist NT (at NT’s expense) in NT’s efforts to secure, vest, protect, record, further document or register such assignment and NT’s rights in any New Materials, including but not limited to executing all papers reasonably desirable or necessary to further document this assignment and vesting of rights in NT.

I told the Board: "Meaning, any projects developed by teachers or staff at Cleveland cannot be used at any other SPS high school without licensing from NTN if NTN has taken ownership of any project. I’m sure any of our possible partners such as UW and Microsoft will be interested in this particular part of the contract."

Michael asked about this and Ron English, from the Legal department, was quite cagey in his answer. He said that by and large, NTN would own any new developments. He said, "It is rare that it happens." (I doubt that this is a "safety" clause. I think NTN is a developing franchise and they want to take whatever they can out of each franchise. )

Anyway Mr. English then said that the district would retain the right to use any new developments at our schools but what we would not be able to do is market a new development somewhere else. SPS could use it at our schools, specifically at Cleveland at both academies.

Note, he said "our schools". DeBell said, "all our schools in our system?" Mr. English had to confess he needed to look more closely at the language of the contract but I think it's fairly clear that no, NTN would own any project they wanted to take ownership of and if that happened, then for SPS to use it at any other high school but Cleveland, they would have to lease it. But I'm no lawyer so we'll see what Mr. English comes back with.

Mr. English also confirmed that each academy will have its own office staff. He said, "By and large, they are two separate schools but we are using academies." Well the staff seem to be giving a mixed message because I've heard statements that it's still Cleveland but jsut with two academies but maybe only legally, not in practice, they will be two schools.

Last topic that I watched was how to find money to reopen the 5 schools needed this fall. Mr. Kennedy said they could borrow money internally (their first choice) which would come from the CEP (Capital Eligible fund) or revenue from a bond sale which would be long and cost more to do. He also mentioned starting projects later to try to, I guess, get more time to find money. He said this would be discussed at the Audit and Finance Committee meeting on Monday.

43 comments:

dan dempsey said...

All About NTN:
The reason this re do "Do-Over" is happening IMHO is the filing on March 5 of the appeal of the original decision.

Think back the NTN decision was made on Feb 3 and the district saw no reason to alter their sloppy ways. The SAP and school closures were still under appeal and the Superior Court had just dilly dally along and done essentially nothing.

2-4-10 less than 24 hours after the the NTN vote on the contract that was not there...Earth Shifted and Julie Spector Spoke ... issuing an order of remand and telling SPS you must use all the evidence when making a decision.

So at that moment the NTN debacle needed examination needed a major JSCEE investigation. The "Bait and Switch" Action Report being significantly different than the Contract is an automatic SLAM DUNK loser in court over 90% of the time.

Key Press is having fits as their premier product is possibly on its way to being in a permanent condition of serious declining sales. Bellevue was still planning on moving "Discovering" forward but WTM provided enormous data and the the straw that smacked Bellevue Big Time. The supposedly mixed data results from the Discovering & Holt pilot, were actually analyzed by a real statistician who knows how to do actual psychometric analysis and HOLT was clearly superior to "Discovering" so it is moving forward to the IMC and "Discovering" is out.

The District has now solved the Action Report - Contract mismatch but has two other enormous problems looming.

The Action Report this time mentions a memo sent 1-29-2010 just 5 days before the original vote.

What we the four directors thinking that voted to approve on Feb 3, 2010?

The last sentence of the summary findings is: Knowing ahead of time that the NTN model does not guarantee strong results only enhances the degree to which the burden falls on the district and the schools to achieve success.

So we are paying lots of bucks for a fairly ineffective plan and teachers are about as likely to make the math portion work as any failing disastrous package..... WoW what a mess. Performance Management ... what would that have looked like at Cleveland.

#2 NTN is NOT an approved provider of restructuring packages. If SPS thought that the financing was shaky. It is on life support now.

grousefinder said...

I find this a fascinating and very sticky legal quagmire:

"...and in compliance with the terms and conditions of this Agreement District will assign, and will direct its employees and agents to assign, to NT upon the request of NT, all right, title and interest of District in any New Materials."

Huh? I write and design all of my own science materials for another Seattle school. I do most, if not all, of it at home. Each lesson gets my copyright. Each device I build for science lessons in my workshop is my personal intellectual property. If I am reimbursed for materials, the devices are still my ideas and can be protected by copyright, trademark, or patent. If I leave the district, they can keep the materials, but the designs are still covered by applicable intellectual property laws.

So, according to this odious contract, if I were asked to teach science at an NT site, or NT took over our building site in the future, I would be relinquishing my intellectual property rights by virtue of employment for SPS. I have signed no such contract with SPS. Nor can they give away something that does not belong to them without my agreement.

Our building site does not use the expensively warehoused National Science Foundation kits (Lessons in a Box) because they do not align with this year's or next years Science Standards. In recognition of that fact, the kits were abandoned in favor our customized curriculum which has been proven highly effective. Nevertheless, the curriculum is mine, not the District's, unless they wish to buy it from me. The same argument would apply to NT, I believe, if a teacher's work product were designed at home and possessed his/her own copyright/trademark/patent.

This is exactly how to suppress innovation; remove the incentive to innovate by forcing employees to innovate without compensation for highly effective ideas and designs. Many companies have patent sharing clauses for their most productive engineers and scientists. I guess SPS thinks we are all just a bunch of poorly informed civil servants with little at stake in our education careers.

grousefinder said...

More to contemplate in the NT contract:

Scenario: You are a teacher at Cleveland and you design an outrageously effective curriculum for your students. It is so good that NT decides to activate (let's call it) "The Blob Clause," a reference to that great B-Movie where the pink blob eats people. They want your curriculum to package and sell to a publisher or manufacturer for a fist full of dollars.

As the teacher you have no right to compensation other than your meager paycheck. Your colleagues get wind of this and say, "Hey, this isn't a Third World Corporate sweatshop. You know what I mean; the ones where highly educated engineers and scientists innovate for Western Corporations with meager compensation, while the product ends up in every household in America."

So your colleagues band together and demand a profit sharing, otherwise they will not produce highly effective curriculum. Of course, NT and the District use the new Performance Plan as a bludgeon to force teachers to innovate or risk losing their jobs. (Sidebar: Picture teachers chained to their desks cranking our marketable curriculum for NT, least they be fired and lose everything.)

This reminds me of that Tennessee Ernie Ford song called Sixteen Tons:

You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
another day older and deeper in debt
St. Peter, don't you call me, 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store.

Here are the SPS new lyrics:

You write sixteen lessons and what do you get?
An NTN Subpoena and deeper in debt.
Goodloe-Johnson will fire me if I'm not worth gold,
I owe my soul to the District store.

Catherine said...

For a different perspective on this NTN clause, I'll point out that NTN does not market curriculum, it markets its professional development, its software tools for organizing project-based learning (rubrics, teacher-student communication tools, etc.), and the fact that it is a collaborative NETWORK of teachers and schools. When I spoke with teachers at NTN schools, they valued that they get to communicate with and borrow from the work of other teachers working in the same project-based model. Like Melissa, I'm no lawyer, but my take on this clause is that it ensures that every member in the network has legal access to other teachers' work. This ability to learn from other teachers with more experience doing project-based learning was very exciting to many Cleveland staff.

One last note--since many of the projects involve authentic local audiences (i.e. students testify before the city council on a policy question, or present a design for a mini-golf course hole to the owners of a local amusement center), there is little chance that the projects are nationally marketable as "canned" material. They could inspire teachers in other localities, and be adapted for their own purposes, but there are no "lessons in a box."

Catherine Brown, Cleveland staff member (speaking as a private citizen)

ParentofThree said...

RE: DeBell's admendment removal.

I am so impressed with this community, I believe "somebody" read up on this blog beforehand and realized what a minefield that admendment was.

Keep up the good work here!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Catherine, I understand that NTN is a network and like I said, I think they are more a franchise (and not a seller of curriculum). They want the best for their franchise and that includes sharing of lessons within the network. But what if you develop a great project? No other SPS high school teacher should have that available to them? I would like to think that at least some project-based learning is already happening at other high schools and so if you developed a great project, it would be nice if you could share it within our network of SPS high schools.

(However, the minute you do develop it, you could send it out to other schools before NTN licensed it. I think that would be okay legally.)

grousefinder said...

Catherine...herein lies the problem: All teachers collaborate to the benefit of students. Few teachers innovate*, or do so at their peril (if innovation means utilizing unauthorized curriculum.

*(By this I mean fundamental and structural changes to the classroom paradigm.)

We are paid to collaborate, and even have special times set aside to do that, without special compensation. There is no time (save for personal time) to innovate, and certainly no compensation as yet to do so.

Thus, an innovative teacher, working nights and weekends, has no incentive to freely give up work product for which their is no reward (advancement, leadership positions, financial compensation).

SPS is toying with the notion that incentive pay that will attract strong teachers to failing schools. Such incentive pay would serve as compensation for innovation. Otherwise, teachers are left to the free market to peddle their wares.

It is up to each teacher to chose whether or not they will give their ideas for free to thousands of other teachers across the nation. It is also, the right of each individual to sell their ideas to the highest bidder. NT should be paying for what they chose to NETWORK.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Our building site does not use the expensively warehoused National Science Foundation kits (Lessons in a Box) because they do not align with this year's or next years Science Standards. In recognition of that fact, the kits were abandoned in favor our customized curriculum which has been proven highly effective."

Grousefinder, could you expand more on this? I mean the leasing of space for science materials is based on needing the space. Do you know if the use of the kits is down throughout the district? Your principal directed the teachers not to use the NSF lessons because they do not align with (state?) standards? Funny, no on on the Board questioned the need for the space or the volume of materials.

Dorothy said...

Catherine. Yes, NTN is pretty much a software package and training. But they also mention the Commons on their website as part of the package. So yes, there is an implied curriculum component.

And I do not get this about staff being excited to collaborate with folks more experienced in NTN-Style-PBL. Because A, you need a lot of STEM curriculum for CHS and NTN teachers don't got that. and B, these schools sure don't look successful when you crunch the numbers. So who are these vaulted teachers in the NTN network that the CHS staff is so looking forward to learning from?

grousefinder said...

Melissa...over coffee, yes. But, on the blog....not a good topic. Dan has my number, or you should have my email in my identity.

The science issue will be huge next year with the new standards coming out, and no plan or committee working on curriculum alignment that I am aware of in the SPS. From what I can see...the NSF kits are obsolete come June (if they weren't before).

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

The NTN contract is $800,000. Correct?

It's not grant-funded, is it? If true, then the NTN contract equals 10 more teachers who will be RIF'd in the coming weeks.

Catherine, do you think the NTN contract is worth it?

Does anyone else on this blog think it is worth it?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Is the NTN contract worth it? Not to me. I think there were other ways to figure out how to (1) find project-based learning information and (2) create a STEM program. If you read through my thread on SBOC, you'll see what the process should have looked liked (but was nothing like). There is a STEM institute that does nothing but advice schools. I'm pretty sure the Alliance might have fronted their fee (and I'm sure it's nothing like NTN's).

In short, they are trying to do this very quick and dirty. They are not giving it the thought given to the development of Delta High, a new STEM school over in the Tri-Cities. I think they believe NTN will give them the lessons they need to have to start this face. Can the teachers take this all in this fast? Will other parts of the program be ready (community/business partners, etc.)?
How are they funding the two separate office staffs that are required?

STEM is a great idea; how we are carrying it out is a bad idea.

Catherine said...

First, before I forget, two thank-yous to Melissa: thanks for mentioning the Cleveland Girls Basketball 3A Championship team! This was an amazing victory by some wonderful young women. Also thank you for providing accurate information (in another thread) about the admissions policy at Cleveland (open to all who apply, with sibling and geographic zone tiebreakers if needed).

To Melissa's point about sharing projects, I have seen NTN schools displaying project ideas on their websites, or student work on the projects (complete with rubrics). This doesn't suggest a terribly proprietary culture around the projects to me. I understand the wisdom of getting clarity about that contract language, though.

Dorothy, I know that many now believe that all or most NTN schools have poor achievement records in all areas. In my opinion, this has been suggested but not proven. Picking out the 10-20 worst data points and making a claim isn’t persuasive to me, as I imagine it wouldn’t be persuasive if NTN were to pick out the 10-20 best data points and purport to be telling the whole story. I think in a network of over 40 schools, all at different places in the continuum of implementing a model, and with their own different contexts to grapple with, the kind of comparisons that have been made aren't really valid. 40 schools provides a whole lot of data to examine (if we confined it to just 10 data points per school, we’d be comparing 400 pieces of data, and that’s just within the New Tech Network, let alone to other schools in their districts or the state). Some people have (rightly) pointed out some of the bad data, but we can't confuse this with a comprehensive, independent, statistical analysis. Mr. Dempsey has an axe to grind, so do I, so does NTN, etc., so I find it hard to make sweeping claims based on just a sampling of data from particular schools in the network.

In terms of what I or other teachers at Cleveland have to learn from the teachers at these schools, we saw them at work, engaging students, doing rigorous, college-preparatory instruction that students found relevant. And we didn't just see it in a few rooms, it was the norm rather than the exception. And most of these classrooms were filled with students very like the current Cleveland population. So when we sat down and thought about what approach we might take to STEM that could welcome a range of learners, including our current students, working with this organization made sense.

LATeacher and Melissa: Will NTN be a panacea? Certainly not. But it is, in my opinion, the tool that could actually make the difference that previous improvement efforts at Cleveland have not, because it requires a multi-year commitment from our district to support personalized learning structures, meaningful, site-embedded professional development, and profound instructional change. I also think that using the NTN approach is our best chance of avoiding the scenario that Charlie speaks of: current students leave and are replaced with more affluent students, who would succeed no matter what our instructional model. I believe this because I saw several NTN schools who were in analogous situations (public "Option School") avoid that fate--they were truly diverse, racially and economically, and the level of rigor was high.

Re two office staffs: we have two secretaries now; the contract is merely asking that one of them work for one academy and one for the other; there shouldn't be any additional cost.

Grousefinder, I'm not sure I've fully understood your position, so I'm not ignoring it, but just feeling unready to reply until I have a better understanding. Are you saying NTN should be paying teachers for the projects they develop while in the network?

udubgrad said...

Regarding NTN: There seems to be a general perception among "the powers that be" that teachers have no philosophy of education, no developed understanding of how students learn and no tried and true techniques and that they can just throw everything they know about their craft overboard and just teach the latest wacky programs. Would anyone expect or even want an attorney or doctor to practice this way? Imagine what that does to the effectiveness of an effective teacher.

Dorothy said...

Catherine, thanks for the reply.

Yes, Dan has an axe to grind. I get that. I also get that he isn't looking at all the data. However, specifically looking at math is a pretty good place to start, especially when math is universally needed in a STEM program. What I don't get is that no one, not until you right now, even ADDRESSED his data.

So, for math specifically, since that's something that has a relatively clear curriculum and all states have some sort of testing for math. Can you or NTN provide more comprehensive data showing the NTN schools that demonstrates how NTN grads do relative to their peers mathwise?

What we get on the NTN website is the 98% graduation rate at one school. A specific claim that seems very dubious and a specific claim that Dan questioned and came up with conflicting data. So, can you address this specific claim of NTN of a phenomenal graduation rate? Have you seen detailed evidence that backs this up?

Why oh why did the action item say that two thirds of the NTN schools are STEM schools when the truth is so much different? If the staff and NTN are going to make such egregious whoppers, no wonder people are suspicious.

Can you also tell us which schools you visited and had such a positive feel for?

wseadawg said...

They're all a bunch of disgusting liars. They pretend and say "performance management" is just one piece of the puzzle. BS. It's their Holy Grail and those lying toadies on the board can't even come forth and say it.

Its open season on teachers folks. See what else you read about in the papers over the next couple of years. Teachers and nothing but teachers. Just like now. What a load.

dan dempsey said...

Dear Catherine Brown,

Please clarify what you mean by "axe to grind". I am very unclear as to what you mean by that. Perhaps Sharp tools work better?

First look at THIS.

If you mean that I am incredibly outraged by the constantly growing achievement gaps in 4th grade WASL math and in a comprehensive averaging of Black - white achievement gap that at the 4th - 7th - 10th grades reached an all time high in 2009 of 51.5%... then clearly I have an axe to grind and the question would be: "Why don't you?"

If you mean that when the district presents a graduation rate of 98% for NT Sacramento but the actual numbers look like THIS, that I have an axe to grind because I am outraged then you are correct I have an axe to grind. So why don't you?

If you mean that because I've done solid research and considered all the data points I have the time to find and have excluded none and found abysmal results in math for NTN schools unlike the historic cherry-picking the District is famous for in Math adoptions then ... I just do not know what to say.

The part I really do not understand is how the admin at Cleveland and the District can allow the UW to experiment on Cleveland students with a novel approach to teaching mathematics that employed far more resources than were available to 8 out of ten Seattle High Schools and NOT monitor the results.

When an experiment is being run it is customary to monitor results and if significant damage is being done ...HALT the experiment. [Thus the requirements for an IRB when university research is done on human subjects but in this state education gets a pass..No Institutional Review Board monitoring.] BUT why was this project not stopped?

Take a Look HERE at those Cleveland Math results. Note these are the three year averages and Cleveland with massive resources, professional development, collaborative groups of teachers in planning etc. achieved a black student pass rate of 58.0% of the district average while RBHS pass rate was 141.4% of district average.

Dean Brown you are 100% correct I do have an axe to grind:
Why does the district continually try to make what clearly is not working and has not worked the continued method for experimenting on Children?

Please .... Improve the system by intelligently applying relevant data. Read what top cognitive scientists have to say:

Dr. Paul A. Kirschner's letter HERE.

Kirschner, Sweller, Clark paper HERE

David C. Geary paper HERE

John Sweller on Geary
paper HERE.

Cleveland H.S. has made some major strides but NOT in math. Project Based Learning in Every Class is anything but Research-Based if positive academic outcomes are the goal.

YUP ... I do have an axe to grind about continuing a failed ideology and harming even more kids along the way.

How about instead of making decisions based on what the "WE" want to do... i.e. Project Based Learning ..... instead "WE" do what has a track record of success.

Explicit Instruction trumps the nonsense the SPS pushes ... yes another axe to grind.

dan dempsey said...

Interesting point about Catherine Brown being the first to address my data. There sure is an enormous discrepancy between the image the district attempts to portray of New Tech Schools and what the data shows.

Also I've never been able to engage anyone in the SPS in a discussion about data ever until this week. I contacted Eric M. Anderson about his memo of 1-29-2010, which I found to be among the better pieces from the SPS. It was filled with much more truth than the usual SPS communication, which tries to push an action item.

Mr. Anderson is much more my style, let us look at a bunch of data and see what can be found. Note: the last sentence of his summary of findings is:
Knowing ahead of time that the NTN model does not guarantee strong results only enhances the degree to which the burden falls on the district and the schools to achieve success.

Does Mr. Anderson have an Axe to grind? Of course not he is just looking at the data.

In our conversation I asked how his schools were selected and he said they were provided him. Check those schools because that is where the cherry picking happens...... but Keep in mind here if Cherries were picked Mr. Anderson did not do the picking.

I am still waiting for someone in the district to tell me why the selection of a provider, NTN with such a poor track record that it is not even an OSPI qualified provider and thus is ineligible for race to the bank funds.

It is well known that when you have no sound argument to present, the strategy is to attack the person. Carla Santorno was incapable of having an issues based discussion ... thus I was mistreating her because she was a black woman ... which by coincidence enabled her to never answer any questions.

A continuing characteristic of the SPS is the substitution of HAPPY TALK for evidence when needed.

NTN Cleveland is yet another example of the data disconnect with decision-making.

dan dempsey said...

Question in looking back over the many weeks from Jan 15th agenda item posting the $800,000 NTN contract for Cleveland, it seems a lot has changed regularly along the way.

Originally it was its turn key STEM program of established schools. Then came the contract with Project Based Learning School but NO STEM ... now we have NTN with lots of vehicle but NO curricula or established instructional materials.

What I know is that the SPS is a complete and utter failure when it comes to looking at data outside the BOX they wish the data to be seen in.

SPS is consistent along the way.
At the start they pick something usually with an inadequate inspection of all the evidence available at the time of selection.

For Southeast there was no community engagement of the substantive issues ... it was all top down...

You will have an option school

It will be a STEM school

It will be NTN STEM
( I list this as top down because no community member would believe you can have a STEM school with such lousy Math. Except of course some teachers from the three year UW PD Cubed math project with the 10% pass rate for Black Students.)

Then to finish up with the Standard SPS M.O. of we try to use as little data and/or evidence possible in decision-mking ... we get:

#1 approval to sign a contract that really wasn't there.

#2 The 4 directors voting for never referenced the data I provided nor did they acknowledge the Anderson memo of 1-29-10.

Data based decision making has come to mean NOT doing what the data would lead a rational director to do.

Keep in mind RCW 28A 645.020 requires a complete administrative record of the evidence used in making the decision, which the district rarely if ever can provide.

Because you just do not need to examine and weigh the evidence to rubber stamp MGJ's decisions. To do so would be time consuming and therefore inefficient.
=================================
Community engagement (that could have been)

See Below....

grousefinder said...

If Dan has an "axe to grind," I'll let him split my wood any day. Nice neatly piled cord-wood, seasoned, stacked and delivered.

Not like those shysters that tell you they are selling you a cord, and deliver 2/3rds of one, wet, knotty, and dumped in a heap on your driveway.

I learn a lot from this man's research...he keeps my fires burning.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

Catherine,

You didn't answer my question: is the NTN contract worth 10 RIF'd teachers?

The reason I press the question is that "budget enhancements" come at the cost of RIF'd teachers. I may be one of those RIF'd teachers. So I want to know if the people who support NTN really believe it is worth my job and others.

You know, Catherine, I have students, too. You can argue that students at Cleveland will gain something from the NTN contract, but there are students who will lose something when their teachers are RIF'd. Is it worth it?

ParentofThree said...

What I will never ever understand is why CHS just did not replicate the BHS Bio-Tech program.
1) It is successful, students must lottery into it.
2) It is no longer available to any students outside of the BHS boundry line, with the exception of a few lucky students who get a "Choice Seat."
3) It has support from local companies.
4) There are excellent Bio-tech teachers that could have helped to start the program at CHS.
5) Starting a Bio-tech program at CHS could have been done so that current students were not displaced.


I will never understand WHY they didn't just replicate success?

And as far as Dan's axe, I will sharpen it any time!

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

Good points, ParentOfThree.

The district has any number of examples of successful programs that were started up by staff in particular buildings.

Such programs are relatively inexpensive and have a proven track record.

Why opt for costly initiatives that require central administration control?

Is the answer to the previous question implied in the premise?

hschinske said...

I've been asking why they didn't replicate some elements of the process by which Ballard got biotech ever since the STEM plans for Cleveland first came to light. No one's had any answers.

Helen Schinske

Melissa Westbrook said...

DeBell told me that Biotech had been driven by some staff with lots of outside help and was a program that didn't serve all the students. Apparently, they didn't think it could reach far enough. I think it was because they could get more federal dollars for STEM than just a biotech program.

ParentofThree said...

But it now seems that DeBell is wrong since the NTN contract eliminates them from qualifying for Fed $$$.

As far as saying it was a program that does not serve all students, well Dah...isn't that the point of any academy, to serve a population of students with an specialized interest?

Again, Bio-Tech has so many students wanting in that you have to enter a lottery. Seems like there was some room for growth.

Maureen said...

Biotech...was a program that didn't serve all the students.

The only requirement for entering BioTech as a freshman is being able to place into 10th grade level math (used to be Int2, Geometry now). If you can't do that as a freshman, you can enter the program as a sophomore. So BioTech is exclusive only in that you need to be at grade level in math. If that is too exclusive for CHS, then SPS could have invested in a summer catch up math class for entering freshman.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't think DeBell meant Biotech was exclusive, just that it wasn't a school-wide program.

ttln said...

re the science kit issue-

the science standards are changing in the next year. our science department is busy trying to figure out how to supplement the kits to make sure that they are addressing the standard changes- so the students don't lose ground according to the Science MSP. This they feel they need to do themselves because the district isn't up for another science adoption until (?) for our level.

This seems counterintuitive. If the district's adoption system/policy/schema supersedes changes required curriculum, how does it expect schools to be accountable to the scores produced when out of date materials are "all we have" until (?) when we are scheduled to up date it.

How do they plan to respond to the impending adoption of the National Education Standards? Dorn announced last Wednesday that he was on board to adopt them for our state. How do MGJ, the Board, and NWEA plan to address this change in their Performance Management Plan and assessments of performance? How will the LA9-12 adoption address the changes about to take place?

The feds are also planning to adjust how "poverty" is defined (rather than a one-size fits all number, it will start to look at other key factors such as cost of living the area where the income is earned).

It seems to me that a real measure of a system's performance is how well it can adapt itself in response to changing circumstances. Where is this being measured?

hschinske said...

The point is that the way they developed the biotech program, and grew community interest in it, and asked for input from people who actually worked in the business -- well, that's all stuff CONSPICUOUSLY ABSENT from how this STEM project has been handled.

Helen Schinske

dan dempsey said...
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dan dempsey said...

I am so darn concerned about this Project Based Learning scam ... It sure is looking like "the decade long" whole language fiasco.

Kirschner makes the point that children are not mini-adults.

See Dr. K's letter HERE.

One does not become a doctor by just wearing a stethoscope from age three onward and using a tongue depressor and shining a flash light into your friends ears.

==================

As Paul Dunham an MS in ME designer of ultrasound equipment says: a lot of this STEM stuff will lead to kids being really engineering appreciation centered. The students will really appreciate "Engineering" they will just never have a chance to become a professional engineer.
The schools are not providing the students with the basic knowledge and skills to get started on a collegiate path to engineering.

The NTN program at Cleveland is yet another example of SPS purchasing fairy-tales. Why does this repeatedly happen?

I really do not understand. Frankly I've pretty much given up after Wednesday night and Gary Ikeda. I just want the board size minimized and MGJ in a cab to someplace else.

You watch the video and then explain to me that at 9:39 when Tom Leonard asks Gary Ikeda if the district accepts the documents Tom Served ... why g.i. will not answer him.

T: Does the district accept the documents I served?
g.i: I will not talk to you without your attorney
T: I am a legally disinterested third party. I do not have an attorney. Does the district accept the documents?
g.i.: I am only talking to an attorney
============
Next day Stafne calls g.i.
g.i. not there and g.i. never calls back
============
Friday I call g.i.
g.i. is in a meeting
I leave secretary a note urgent g.i. call Stafne
----------------------
Then write all board members that g.i. needs to call Stafne and I am arranging next week's schedule and being the persistent guy that I am need to know if I need to hunt them down individually next week or not ... 'cuz I'll git 'er dun
====================
Friday noon district notifies Stafne documents are accepted.

Typical service provided by TEAM MGJ through g.i.

If "the Defenders of the Schools" get a favorable decision from Supreme Court ==> it will take time but it is game over.

=================
It is really not this hard to STOP doing what has not worked, does not work, and will not work in the future.

I feel like we are all trapped in the moron section of the Twi-Light Zone.

{random though occurrance==>
I had a thought about that PSAT data report that was so incredibly inadequate ... let us get the raw data and have Dr. J. MacKinlay run it through his Tableau software and find out what it really says.}

Charlie Mas said...

For me, the concern is not about the teachers' intellectual property rights - the District cannot bargain those away. The concern is not about the efficacy of Project-Based Learning - it is plenty successful at NOVA. The concern isn't even about the expense of the contract - although it is CRAZY money.

My first concern is with the lax manner in which the Board approached this matter. They voted to approve a contract that they hadn't even bothered to read. That's an epic fail right there.

My second concern is with the total failure of any kind of authentic community engagement at any point in this whole process. There was no community input on the decision to create a STEM school - it wasn't even discussed with the school staff. There was no community input on the decision to devote the entire school to Project-Based Learning. There was no community input on the selection of NTN as a vendor. There is no community input on any part of any decision for anything having to do with this school.

That is no way to operate an Option school. You cannot create a school that people will choose without any idea of what they want.

I fear that the District is simply relying on the repulsive forces at every other school to drive students to STEM instead of relying on STEM's attractive force. That's just sad.

When will the District stop pushing people and start pulling them?

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I know a number of families who are putting STEM on their "choice" list. Few, however, are putting it as number one. Other's are putting it at number 10—as their "get out of 'name of attendance school' free" card. As Charlie notes, that's just sad.

Melissa Westbrook said...

If you read my SBOC thread, you'll see how well they planned that out and yet STEM had nowhere near the advanced planning that this project is having. Also, very interesting that the Board thought it was the best planning they had ever seen and said so.

Stu said...
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Stu said...

If we use can not use it for the NTN contract, that may be true but not that important."

- from Director Morris, posted on his blog, in response to information that, by choosing NTN for STEM, the district might lose out on $2 million in federal grants . . . NTN is not an "approved" vendor.


I don't know how many of you are following this over on the other blog but this is one of the most telling sentences I've read in a long time. Director Morris has no idea if Cleveland loses out on $2 million in federal grant money but, more importantly, doesn't seem to care. It's one thing if he was ignorant of this possible problem, as he might have been with the first "contract" vote; now that it's been brought to his attention, it's terrifying that he might not not investigate before voting again.

Talk about drinking the kool-aid.

stu

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I believe that you are not correct. It is my understanding that Cleveland will be eligible for those federal grant dollars. If we use can not use it for the NTN contract, that may be true but not that important."

This is Director Martin-Morris' entire quote. I believe what he is saying is that they can't use the dollars for NTN and he doesn't think it's important.

Because why? Because we magically have a spare $800K sitting around for NTN?

This from a Board who is paying $600K for a greenhouse that wasn't even in a BEX project.

This is why I can't believe in what the staff or Board say. We cannot be this dirt poor and have them make statements like Harium made and vote for things like a greenhouse. It's just beyond ridiculous.

All I can say is if Mayor McGinn is keeping count of all the foul-ups, the list is growing.

Maureen said...

They must be counting on PTSAs to donate $42,424,242.42 to building budgets-then the handling fees will cover both NTN AND the greenhouse!

TechyMom said...

I think what Harium was saying was that the budget for Cleveland is much larger than $800,000. So, even if they can't use federal grant money to pay NTN, they can use it for other parts of the budget, and they still come out ahead.

Stu said...

I think what Harium was saying was that the budget for Cleveland is much larger than $800,000. So, even if they can't use federal grant money to pay NTN, they can use it for other parts of the budget, and they still come out ahead.

Actually, I would be surprised if that's what he's saying 'cause, at least from what we know so far, there is no "other" part of the budget that the Cleveland money can go to . . . ALL of Cleveland is NTN. The district can't just take money that would have gone to Cleveland and send it somewhere else; if they chose a different route than NTN, that money would stay with the building AND the students who really need it.

stu

Charlie Mas said...

The STEM FAQs page was updated. The biggest change that I can see is a fuller explanation of the Transportation story.

dan dempsey said...

Charlie,

Do you think that Calculus requirement still exists or was that just happy talk to get this started?