Wednesday, March 17, 2010

School Board Meeting

I'm not going to live blog all night but it's a packed house of angry/unhappy school counselors and teachers. Lots of signs (I'm hiding behind a post so I can have plug access for my laptop) all around me. Room is already getting hot and they just started. You might want to tune in on Channel 26. Grab a green beer and here we go!

187 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson will NOT be at the first part of the meeting (public testimony) as she is at a school event with her daughter. Hisses but I get that.

Cleveland High's Girls Basketball team won the State Championship!

Melissa Westbrook said...

I meant to say I get why Dr. G-J isn't here as well as the hisses. She needs to be there for her daughter but I can see where the teachers and staff represented here feel she will not hear their voices especially since the majority of speakers will be speaking on Perf. Management.

seattle citizen said...

Me personally, I liked the way the TV went blue, with the SPS logo and a message about an interuption to the program, RIGHT after SEA leader Olga Addae said, "You are violating my first amendment right to free speech, Director De Bell!"

Nice timing.

seattle citizen said...

I don't think I agree with Dr GJ being absent. Yes, she had some visit to make at her daughter's school. I get that. But this was the one time to hear public testimony and it sure appears that she knew there would be a bunch of people there and "escaped" Director De Bell's comment, on her return that "you're just in time, we just finished public testimony," didn't help one bit.

seattle citizen said...

There was LOTS of cogent agrument about Performance Management. I can't wait to see what they do with it. If they approve, I will be sorely disappointed because it goes against both common sense and the apparent will of the people. Stay tuned, vote in about an hour maybe (8:30? 9:30?) I don't know, I'm at home, but judging by the agenda...

wseadawg said...

The Gang of Four will vote for it, and it will pass. No question.

emeraldkity said...

I have to say that it doesn't surprise me the GJ isn't there- but lots of other parents have jobs that pay much less and have fewer people needing their particular perspective than G-J- yet they don't have a chance to skip work so they can attend an evening event at preschool.

Since she does have a father that has a more flexible schedule, I view the superintendent's absence as another opportunity to show how much she cares.

Lenora said...

What did the board decide?

dan dempsey said...

The board approved perf Man

gavroche said...

emeraldkity said...

I have to say that it doesn't surprise me the GJ isn't there- but lots of other parents have jobs that pay much less and have fewer people needing their particular perspective than G-J- yet they don't have a chance to skip work so they can attend an evening event at preschool.

Since she does have a father that has a more flexible schedule, I view the superintendent's absence as another opportunity to show how much she cares.


Indeed, why wasn't Goodloe-Johnson at this meeting? Why couldn't her husband attend their daughter's preschool evening event?

Why?

Because she is a coward and a hypocrite.

Last year, when Goodloe-Johnson was due for her annual review and word got around that there would be protests at that meeting, interestingly, Goodloe-Johnson suddenly had "a death in the family" and the meeting was canceled.

Ok, maybe that is too cynical. Maybe.

Doesn't it also seem like Susan Enfield is now being sent out to do Goodloe-Johnson's dirty work -- sitting in for her at contentious board meetings, removing and moving principals...?

Also, I agree with Olga A. that the real purpose of the RIFs last year had little to do with budget cuts. It was all a power-play by Goodloe-Johnson to strong-arm the union and try to foment SPS parental anger against the union and the rules of seniority, which is what was blamed for the RIFs. In truth, the only one to blame for the RIFs was Goodloe-Johnson. She imposed them. They were not necessary.

Isn't it time we had someone heading our school district who actually cares about Seattle's schools, our kids, and will show up for meetings, face the music and be accountable?

For all her talk about "excellence for all" why do we see nothing but failure on her watch? Where is the excellence?

It's pretty clear Goodloe-Johnson does not care about our kids, has little respect for our teachers and no genuine interest in parent and community input. Seattle is just another stepping stone in her career before she moves on.

Her work history so far, btw:

2007- ? – Supt. of Seattle Public Schools
2003-2007 - Superintendent of Charleston County School District, South Carolina,
1999-2003 - Assistant superintendent, Corpus Christi Independent School District, Texas.
(1999-2000 - instruction and school services)
(2000-2001 - special education and instructional support)
(2001-2003 - school services and elementary instruction)
1994-1999 - Director of secondary instruction, St. Vrain Valley School District, Longmont,
Colorado
1988-1994 Asst principal (2 years) and principal, Broomfield High School, Boulder Colorado
?- 1988 - high school special education teacher and coach, Colorado


Have we had enough yet of this Broad Foundation gun for hire?

Stu said...

Her work history so far

I don't know. Based on her most recent history, we might have to wait 'til 2011 before she leaves.

This board doesn't stand up to her so it's not like they're going to get rid of her.

stu

ttln said...

so, NOVA can retain autonomy via a waiver and still not get money for materials? Terrance can relax? Potentially?

SolvayGirl1972 said...

KUOW has a brief report on the meeting today. It's pretty bland, though does make some of the points against Perf Man. Interestingly they quote Board Members and Olga, but no parents. Harrium talks about promises...Sherry says that parents want Perf Man. Hmmmmm.

Stu said...

Sherry says that parents want Perf Man

What's funny is that, in some ways, parents DO want performance management; it's just that we call it accountability. What concerns me more, though, is that Harrium talks about promises. This board always reassures the public that, even though there might be problems with something, they'll keep an eye on things. After all, with all the warnings about moving APP into Thurgood Marshall, the board guaranteed that the ALO community wouldn't suffer. They've sure kept their eyes on that one, haven't they?

stu

yumpears said...

On the KUOW piece they quoted Sherry Carr as saying it was pretty clear that parents want accountability and was the basis for Permanence Management.

It is clear to me she has missed it entirely, because when I hear parents talking about accountability I hear that parents want the board to hold the superintendent accountable.

Dora Taylor said...

Either way, what DGJ did last night sent a message, whether it was intentional or not. And this is happening as union negotiations are about to begin.

The board should not have passed the Performance Management Policy, period. It will now cost $3.1M to implement, per Meg Diaz' calculations, and yet we are all having to make difficult choices about letting go a teacher or not have enough money for supplies and losing our counselors.

She is going headlong down the path of RTTT per the Arne Duncan/Broad agenda and to heck with anyone and everyone else. And the board is just getting dragged along or are they just running to try to keep up with her? Either way, it's pretty pathetic.

They drank the Kool-Aid in all of those board retreats brought to you by the Broad by way of Payzant and it is now falling nicely into place for DGJ.

Assessment testing, basically high stakes testing, wholesale firing of teachers, turning around schools (except we haven't gotten to turning them into charter schools...yet, although STEM is starting to look more like a charter school everyday now that it's confirmed that the students who don't want to be a pert of STEM will go somewhere else as yet to be determined and I've heard that not all students will be allowed in. The school can be selective. Sounds like a charter school to me.)

Central Falls, here we come!

Some folks are pushing for mayoral control, just like the Broad likes it, with the mayor appointing board members. It's ironic that these board members are on the road to being obsolete as they follow DGJ's/Broad's agenda and they don't even know it. If the mayor does take over, he will appoint whomever he pleases. And we will lose the small, minute, amount of power we have to sway the board members.

And, another piece of news, remember Bill 6696? The one that certain organizations were jumping on the bandwagon to push? There is a provision in there that says that teachers now do not have to go through the educational process as before to be certified. This is happening elsewhere in states where charter schools are springing up. Because most of these schools are privately owned and are in it to make a profit, they don't hire union teachers (that's why the big deal to bust the unions). So organizations like Teach for America provide these charter schools with young, inexperienced but very energetic teachers to take the place of the experienced teachers. These TFA teachers get paid much less and work longer hours and are fired at will.

Anyway, TFA is now recruiting here in Seattle. Gee, I wonder if they're recruiting for STEM which could be the premiere charter school in Seattle. I'll betcha that's somebody's goal.

I'll put money on the fact that right now there are folks preparing for the next legislative session to propose charter schools. Anyone want to take that wager on?

Sully said...

In regardt to STEM Dora Taylor says "I've heard that not all students will be allowed in. The school can be selective. Sounds like a charter school to me.)"

Dora Taylor please don't throw statements around like this around unless you have some specific information to back them up.

Where did you "hear" that the school will be selective and not let everyone in? Who said it? Where is it in print? Is it on the school web site? Or is it just a rumor, or just your interpretation?

Back your posts up please, give your source.

Chris said...

Did anyone else find it funny that there were police there last night but no press? Like they called the police to come, and called the press and told them not to come? Or were all Seattle "journalists" out drinking green beer?

Dora Taylor said...

ttln, to answer your question, yes, Nova and other schools with high test scores can have "earned autonomy", meaning they wouldn't have to follow the prescribed curriculum package.

And yes, we will still have to come up with alternative means to provide supplies for Nova students. Don't worry about the supplies part. As a community we will be able to provide what is needed.

blumhagn said...

It may not be popular but I thought Olga Addae was way out of line. The one 3-minute slot per person rule has been consistently enforced the entire time I've watched the school board meetings. If she can't wave an actual policy in front of the Board that supports her view of the rules, she has no standing. It was a stunt, and one that I thought reflected poorly on SEA.

I fundamentally disagree with her that time in service is the only way that teacher quality can be fairly measured. I think we've all seen burned-out teachers who are punching the clock towards retirement, and young energetic teachers who are getting the job done. Stating that any other evaluation procedure is racist without any evidence is ridiculous.

I'm not saying that the Performance Management plan is the solution, or that the MAP/WASL/whatever don't discriminate against minority students. However, I can't believe that there is no way to reasonably evaluate teachers.

What was really interesting to me is that at least two Board members have told me that the impending firing of elementary school counselors was the #1 choice of a group of elementary school principals. Kay Smith-Blum, on the other hand, said that ES principals unanimously voted to support counselors over other cuts.

I don't think that the Board members are lying here. I believe that this is what they are being told. What this saays to me is that someone in the District is either outright lying to or deliberately misleading the Board.

KSB also said that the next budget work session would be real interesting, because she's going to ask a lot of hard questions. I'm going to try to be there--who's bringing popcorn?

Eric

Dora Taylor said...

Sully, I was sitting in the School Board meeting last night and one of the people who testified provided that information.

I can't think of who it was but it will be in the archives.

And I do back up everything that I say. Any and all of what I posted this morning is on:
http://seattle-ed.blogspot.com/
in the form of articles, links to blogs and other websites regarding education in this country.

seattle citizen said...

blumhagn,
She didn't say that "time in service is the only way that teacher quality can be fairly measured." She said that RIF and Evaluation are two different things. Evaluation is the ongoing process of making sure everyone (note: EVERYONE....) is doing what they are supposed to be doing. RIF is a separate action, when the district has to cut staff.
One would assume that on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis ALL staff is being evaluated (oh, and maybe teachers can get their buddies to do theirs, as Broad did for Supt.) and either being given remediation or whatever or counseled out, or in worst case, let go. This has NOTHING to do with Reduction in Force, which is a last-gasp measure to save money.
If there are people in the system who should be let go during RIF because of some "performance" issue (and note that no one has yet defined that), why are they still in the system, or why haven't they been given remediation? Is RIF an opportunity to get rid of all those "dinosaurs," replace staff with fresh blood (and cheaper blood)?
Two unrelated things, RIF and Eval - RIF SHOULD be based solely on seniority because Eval during year is already addressing performance.

seattle citizen said...

Doar, that was Ricky Malone, last speaked before waitlist.
I think she was referring to the fact that STEM is option, so people could come from all over, and if too many applied some wouldn't get in, therefore she was concerned that local nieghborhood students would be slighted. District has said that there will be no entrance requirements. I have no idea what they will do with Sped, 504, ELL, ALO etc

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dora, that's great for NOVA but the point is that many communities that don't have the money either in their budget or coming from the PTA, won't be able to have this option. That doesn't seem fair.

Also, the person who said that some students might not get into STEM was Rickie Malone who frequently gets things wrong. She stated no source for her comment. I think enrollment is addressed at the STEM website.

I agree that Olga was over the top. It was funny because she got a lot of people to follow her out and told the Board they would stand out in the lobby and chant but they didn't. In fact, a lot of them never came back. It was weird.

I've known for years that you can't get more time by someone ceding your time. I'm pretty sure it's outlined in the rules. Plus Rickie Malone was upset by a phone call from some staff member telling her that for the past 3 times she signed up to call, she hasn't spoken on the topic she said and they would not allow her to speak again if she did so. She was much aggrieved but they made the rule on agenda items getting priority as many people who wanted to speak on items being voted on didn't get the chance. Most of the time there isn't a lot of competition to speak.

Actually Eric, I do have a fun little game I've been meaning to bring to a meeting. I'll bring it to the next Work Session.

Sully said...

"I was sitting in the School Board meeting last night and one of the people who testified provided that information."

C'mon Dora, someone (no name, not official) testifies at a board meeting, and you not only believe what they say, you repeat it, without verifying that it is true or accurate... and then post it on a blog. That's irresponsible

If you are concerned and think there is any merit to that testimony why not verify it? Talk with Princess Shareef, Susan Enfield, a board director, or Tracy Libros in enrollment? Check your data before posting. Especially since everything, and I mean everything, that has been presented to the community, posted on the school website, and displayed on the SPS enrollment page, has said that STEM will be an option school, open to all, without any selection process what so ever.

Perhaps it was just your interpretation of the testimony? Could the person testifying have meant that the school will now serve a "select" group of kids? Not because the school district will "select" who gets in, but because only a certain type of kid will elect to enroll in such a rigorous program. Only "select" kids will be up to the challenge of a core 24+, 4 year math, 4 year science, college prep school. That is more likely what the person meant, no?

Lori said...

I was half-listening to the public comments on TV last nite, and I haven't been doing this for very long, so I don't know all the players, but I *thought* I heard someone say that the principal at Cleveland will be able to permanently expel students from the program and they will have to go elsewhere if they exhibit, for example, behavior problems. Did anyone else hear that? When I read Dora's earlier post about Cleveland sounding like a charter school, I thought maybe she had heard that comment too.

I'm not trying to start a rumor; I honestly might have heard it incorrectly because I was simultaneously playing a game with my daughter and only catching bits and pieces.

I'll gladly delete this post later if I'm totally imagining things, but I'm wondering what in fact was said along those lines.

Sully said...

"I heard someone say that the principal at Cleveland will be able to permanently expel students from the program and they will have to go elsewhere if they exhibit, for example, behavior problems."

That is true for every principal at every school in the district.

Check out Seattle Schools Discipline policy here:

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/discipline/index.dxml

There is an entire list of behaviors and acts that warrant mandatory suspension and/or expulsion from any and all Seattle Schools.

Dora Taylor said...

One thing that struck me as very odd was how the superintendent, who had been sitting in the board meeting room during the work session, left and then magically reappeared right after the comment section of the meeting. DeBell said that the comment portion of the meeting had ended and in the next breath said that DGJ had returned for the Superintendent's Updates.

It really did look staged and I could understand how people could have perceived that she left so that she would not have to deal with the messiness of the reality that she is creating for the rest of us.

blumhagn said...

seattle citizen,

I didn't hear it that way, but I'm certainly willing to be corrected. I'll look at that piece of testimony when the online video comes up.

My perception (and again, I'm happy to be shown to be wrong) is that the union is dead set against any measure of teacher effectiveness being used to determine whether or not the teacher continues to have a job. As a parent, I want to have some way to ensure that the teachers we have are reasonably good.

I'm not blaming the teachers. They can't help it if the Board chooses crappy materials, or if the students they get in a year come in with learning issues. They shouldn't be penalized for a student reading below grade level if the student has advanced significantly over the year. Nor should evaluations be based on standardized tests.

Maybe I live in a utopia, but I just don't see how it isn't in both the union's and District's interest to have a fair system for evaluating teachers and moving the worst of them out of the classroom. I'm talking about egregious cases here, not wholesale firings.

Eric

Chris said...

Sully, what charter schools typically do is "soft selection," for lack of a better word. "We'll take anyone who will sign this contract." You can call it "having high expectations" or you could call it "making clear that some students are not welcome" - the obvious being special ed.

I have heard Susan Enfield say things about Cleveland like "everyone wil be in a STEM academy, everyone will take calculus." Do you not think this will lead to some self- selection? I'm not saying this is bad, just that you guys should own this choice to cloister all the ambitious kids in the south end and call it a "turnaround" or any other kind of great success. Which I have no doubt it will be.

I'll probably get in trouble for this. I'm just trying to say that just because selection isn't formal doesn't mean it doesn't exist. And it's ignored in all the nice stats about charter schools.

seattle citizen said...

Eric, of course teachers should be evaluated. That is not in dispute. What I was arguing is that this is separate from the RIF process. Your reply to my comment makes no note of this difference, but merely restates (no disrespect here) the obvious: Teachers should be evaluated.
Well of course.
But tie this to the RIF? They are two different things. I, too, will go back over the testimony to see what was said (does the district transcibe these things? They should - there's a couple comments in this thread about public testimony - it would be much easier, and aide transparency and accuracy, if comments were transcibed.

seattle citizen said...

"They shouldn't be penalized for a student reading below grade level if the student has advanced significantly over the year."

Should they penalized if the student DOESN'T advance? What if the student is traumatized? Absent? Lazy?
I'm not making excuses, but there are so many variables. That is why I would rather TEACHING be evaluated - we can see good teaching. Student progress is determined by way too many factors that are not in the teacher's control.
The old example: Same class, great teacher, one student progresses, the other doesn't....who is responsible for other student not progressing? How do identify congruent factors?

Dora Taylor said...

Melissa, I understand the unfairness of "earned autonomy". There was a teacher with a PhD last night who spoke eloquently about the subject. I have not ever expressed support for it although it seems that those who can go beyond the curriculum and would not find it challenging should have an opportunity to go further without constraints.

And yes, Nova, as with every other schools, has had to make some very difficult choices. The students, staff and principal made very careful considerations of what would be in the best interest of the students and choices were made. We don't have a lot of money, our parent base is a mix of economic backgrounds. In fact, we have many students who are homeless or without parents or guardians. That's why I am so proud of that school. With all of these different factors, the students achieve. There is a lot to be learned by studying that school model.

Anyway, we might not have a lot of money, but we are a determined and focused group of parents, students and staff who will make sure that Nova students will get what they need to succeed.

Maureen said...

As far as Cleveland only enrolling 'self selected' students. That is an issue with comparing charters to schools that have to take all comers, but it is also the case with our alternative (or Option) schools. So I wouldn't say that automatically makes STEM an entry-charter.

Lori said...

"I'm not making excuses, but there are so many variables. That is why I would rather TEACHING be evaluated - we can see good teaching."

I absolutely agree. You have to evaluate the process not the outcome, because the only thing that the teacher can control is the process. The obvious question is how to do so in an objective manner. We might recognize good teaching, but can we define it in a way that can be measured? Until we know exactly what it is that happens in the classroom that leads to learning, we don't know what to measure.

Dora Taylor said...

About STEM,yes, you're right I spoke too quickly about the future entrance requirements. It is my nature and professional background to check everything before I speak or write and with that in mind, I will again follow my more disciplined approach.

If you go back through previous comments, you'll see that I usually provide links to all that I state. I only wish that they could be live links so that you wouldn't have to copy and paste. Sometimes I get concerned that if they are not live, people won't bother to check them out.

That said, the development of STEM is looking more and more like how charter schools are established. Many charter schools start in existing school buildings, usually with an existing public education program in place, and over time take over more and more space.

These schools are usually in urban areas, that's where the business is, but many times these schools are not attended by students in the community. The reason being that these schools need to establish and maintain high student scores to receive money from the state. For the most part, states keep a pretty close eye on charter schools and if they don't perform, they are closed.

That is why STEM is starting to look like the embryonic stage of a charter school.

For additional information see:

http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2009/10/wonderful-renovation-and-heartbreaking.html

http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=942&section=Article

And by the way remember the testimony of Jennifer Matter last night? This is what she was referring to.
http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=9d63e10ab93741e115e9364fecf29b77

And here's something about charter schools and test scores.
http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/education/2009/07
/19/2009-07-19_charters_pawn_off_flunking_kids_ps_big_sez.html

And one more addition: Charter schools and special ed.
By the way, will there be a special ed program at STEM?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/26/AR2009062604138.html

Again, there is a lot of information out there. Just google it or look at our website.

Tim said...

Teachers are evaluated. The criteria and process is clear and stated in their contract. They are fired if they don't meet the criteria AND the principal has followed the process. The union can only prevent a firing if the contract is not followed.

If this is not the case, don't blame the teacher, the union, or even the principal - blame the administrators downtown who are unable to get principals to use the same contract that has been in place, and renewed over and over again. If they think the contract is onerous, then let them bargain a change. If principals aren't following the steps, evaluate them.

blumhagn said...

Re: RIFs vs. firing for poor performance, I guess I don't understand why, once the District identifies that they need to RIF X number of K-3 teachers, they wouldn't RIF the lowest-performing ones. I'm not trying to be argumentative, but once you accept the loss of a certain number of teachers, isn't it reasonable to take the lowest performers?

I see your point on an individual student's lack of initiative impacting a teacher. In my ideal world, before anyone got fired, they would have to show that the lack of adequate performance was:

A. Persistent (say over 3-5 years)
B. Widespread (impacting a significant percentage of the students in the class), and
C. Significantly different from the rest of the school

A. allows for training and coaching once a problem becomes evident, and helps even out issues with a bad class.

B. tries to weed out issues where the teacher teaches some groups of students well, but not others. I might also try to control for the student's academic achievement in other years as well, but that gets to some statistical nightmares.

C. gets at poor curriculum, socioeconomic factors, etc. that are widespread in a school and out of the teacher's control.

I agree this is overly simplistic, and there are a lot of details to find devils in. I'm also not an educator or administrator. I'm just a parent frustrated by the one lousy teacher our elementary school had and the fact that the only solution was to wait for retirement. That teacher was absolutely not representative of the SPS teacher corps as a whole.

Eric

TechyMom said...

Dora, to make live links, copy this and change the friendly text and url

<a href="http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2009/10/wonderful-renovation-and-heartbreaking.html">Dismantling of the John Ericsson Middle School 126 Library</a>

It will display as
Dismantling of the John Ericsson Middle School 126 Library

reader said...

Look, the unions are against performance measurement, of any sort, for anything. If the measurement is "test score improvement", they are against that because... well, lots of kids can't be helped no matter what. If the measurement is "principal evaluation", they are against that.. well, because the principals are "arbitrary and capricious" and don't know what they're doing. If the measurement is "peer review", well they are against that... sort of cliquish and unpredictable. There's always a reason to argue with every single way to evaluate performance.

So, are we supposed to just give them lifetime appointments with no way to get rid of them? At Microsoft, a number of years ago, it was a management goal to get rid of 10% of the bottom performers... annually. That is clearly too draconian, but has anyone ever heard of a teacher or other district staff, ever leaving for incompetence.. Ever? Even 1? There's a few that are let go for gross misconduct (eg. exposing themselves randomly on the freeway). When do we hear of any teachers that even need improvement? Never. This isn't the good old days, when teachers were hard to find. We've now got stacks, and stacks, of resumes. We should use these hard times to improve our teaching staff... not retain the duds forever more.

emeraldkity said...

There are a lot of variables in how we should be educating students- I agree with G-J that " every school should be a quality school".

Yes & nobody should smoke cigarettes and everyone should do their homework on time and the school lunches should be edible.

I can measure the criteria in the second sentence, but what the heck does " quality" mean?


I am not against all charter schools at all times.
I like choice and my kids have attended private schools for at least part of their education-
Choice of inter-district, homeschooling, private schooling is more available than you think, but it is almost as much work as trying to predict the outcome of assignment in SPS.

However- I agree with those who feel that G-J is aligned with a force intent on "Broadening", Seattle education. Regardless of what Seattle families/educators want or need.

The opposite of transparency/accountability, which we have come to expect is enough to try even the most dedicated parent or community activist and because our children have a limited time frame for their K-12 education, we can't just sit back and hope it gets better- because that is what they are counting on.

I am still angry that they closed Summit. I am very happy that Nova is still open- albeit having to have been moved.
Yes the economy sucks- but I talk to people almost every day who have pulled their kids out of SPS into private or homeschooling, or even moved to another city or state, where the district is a little smaller and where students and parent opinions are actually sought out!

In Portland, where my daughter teaches they are currently going through the process of redesigning the high schools- it doesn't look smooth, but it looks much more transparent than the process of finding info in Seattle.


According to the Federal Education Budget Project the per pupil expenditure in the Seattle is $12,948.
I am going to pore through the numbers to see if that is actually what goes to schools & what it includes, or if it is an average for the district.
Statewide the average is $8.524.

Stu said...

I am not against all charter schools at all times.

As they've been defined and designed in other districts, I'm against Charter Schools.

I'm against any school takes money out of the public school coffers but can deny entrance to someone. Public school money must go to public schools.

stu

Melissa Westbrook said...

"as anyone ever heard of a teacher or other district staff, ever leaving for incompetence.. "

I'm pretty sure that two teachers exited from Roosevelt were for non-performance. And that isn't even as low a standard as incompetence.

It takes work for a principal to exit a teacher and many just don't want to do it. They either try to go them to leave on their own or give up. And, you cannot as a parent, put a letter on file with the district about your own experience with a teacher you believe is incompetent or non-performing.

I'm sorry but the district should hold on to all the letters and just track them as a pattern, not as to the content necessarily. How many parents have complained to the principal verbally via a scheduled meeting, via e-mail or by snail mail? That should be tracked and used as part of a process. As well, all the good feedback should be recorded as well.

Charter schools, for the record, cannot technically deny anyone entrance. What they can do is write their charter so narrowly as to exclude certain students by not having services available.

Joan NE said...

If reader's assessment of the SEA's position is correct, well then, I say the union needs to rethink, and come up with a proposal that parents can support.

What Eric is suggesting sounds quite reasonable and constructive.

Are there any teachers reading this that can tell us what they think of this suggestion?

Keepin'On said...

I think Reader's assessment of SEA is correct. I have had many conversations with different teachers about this issue, and they ALL have said those comments to me about performance evaluations.

It all seems to boil down to ...well, we(teachers) would like to have performance evaluated, and perhaps seniority not be the determining factor in RIFS, just as much as parents would, but we can't because...the list goes on.

As we face another round of RIF's this year,we will all see many new, enthusiastic teachers, and some not even so new, but enthusiastic and wonderful, get exited from their jobs. When in those same buildings are teachers who should have been gone a long time ago.

Look, I don't trust the district either, but something needs to change about this process.

Olga Addae is not helping. Where was she when parents were at meetings protesting district cuts and closures? Where was the SEA when every school is now being forced to decide who to keep on with PTA or newly limited building dollars?

How telling that SEA leadership only shows up to protest when it is something like this issue.

Tim said...

Reader's assessment is not correct. I have worked in three very different districts. All had approximately the same contract language and process for firing as Seattle. The other two (one - out of state, and the other Bellevue) were able to fire. I saw it happen many times. Most of those who were poorly evaluated got out before they were fired. As I undersdatnd it, this is true in most jobs...people read the writing on the walls. Of course, most people who receive poor evaluations, or are beimng fired for poor performance, do not share it. And privacy rules do not allow sharing of personnel files by the principal, so it would be unlikely many others would have been told.

As someone who has bargained at the table for the union, I am totally in favor of teacher's being evaluated. Of course. My job would really suck without it. Who would want to work in that organization? Unions have long pushed for processes that allow staff to correct problems - but that means the problem has to be pointed out to them in a timely, professional way. Without decent evaluation, improvement lags. Feedback is always valued in teaching. But I want the feedback to be real - for example, I would want any evidence that I was a poor performer to be verifiable - such as coming from direct observation of my practice by a trained observer. The state lays out a slate of basic, verifiable criteria they require principals to use with direct observation, twice a year. If that isn't being done, then change the way principals (or their bosses) are evaluated. If Seattle has low numbers of teachers fired, then either they are walking out before they are fired, or Seattle has a central administration problem, because they can't follow the processes that are similar no matter where you go.

Joan NE said...

For me this is "D-day" for the families and students of SPS: The performance mgt policy gives the Superintendent extraordinary discretion and prerogative to make decisions to close or convert schools.

Wherever I see it used, and in SB6696 and RTT, "conversion" is a reference to charter schools.

School conversion (to charter school) is the ultimate goal of Education Reform.

Have folks noticed that the local news media is starting to buzz about charter schools? Randy Dorn testifed AGAINST SB6696. His reason: It didn't go far enough, since it didn't allow charter schools.

Well, The Broad Foundation must be VERY HAPPY with Maria. Thank Gang-of-Four plus DeBell for this. Thank Nick Hanauer, venture capatalist and co-founder of League of Education Voters. Thank the rich fat cats (Nick Hanauer being the fattest of all) that funded the campaigns of the Gang-of-Four.

Once we start to see the the wost forms of restructuring become common-place in the state and in Seattle, people will begin to understand the great harm that school closures and conversions inflict on children, families, teachers, and communities.

People are going to be really mad and will start acting out.

I suspect it is in anticipation of this that Mayor McGinn is trying to position himself - via these community education meetings that are currently taking place - as being a champion of schools and being well-suited to take control of the school board. When he succeeds in this goal, the people will loose the ability to influence District policy and direction via school board elections.

Dora Taylor said...

I checked on one of my links and realized the link to the video of the library closing is no longer available at that link so I am providing the link to the video.

It's quite good.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gJCdIx_n0U&feature=related

Joan NE said...

I want to share an email that I just received. I asked an expert on high stakes testing to review the performance management policy and related policies, and tell the Board whether these are high stakes testing policies.

[The Board is already cognizant of the fact that high stakes testing is BAD educational practice - due to material I sent them.]

The School Board was a "cc" recipient for this email:

On Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 2:47 PM, wrote:

Ms. Sias: The policies on testing being drafted and voted on, by the Seattle Public Schools Board constitute a blatant HIGH STAKES AGENDA!

1. The intended policies place teachers and students in a "No Won" situation. For example, as many as 20% of the student population has some form of handicap--mental, physical or psycological. Testing these students in not in their best intersts and serves no educational agenda.

2. Schools and teachers have no control of any student's social circumstances. I have published papers showing a correlation of 0.97 of parental income to SAT and ACT tests!

3. According to NCLB, if a school has poor test results the entire staff may be fired. This violates Washington State Continuing Contract Law! Law suits will be the norm.

4. High stakes tests are costly and Seattle Public Schools would be well served to invest the budgeted money for high stakes tests where it will support students and help teachers do a better job. Keep in mind the WASL has proven to be financial disaster for our state.

There is much more, but should suffice.

Dr. Donald C. Orlich, Professor Emeritus, WSU


*Don Orlich* is professor emeritus of the Science Mathematics Engineering Education Center at Washington State University. He has published more than 100 professional papers, co-authored more than 30 monographs and books. He is author of a 2006 book titled “School Reform and the Great American Brain Robbery,” published by Lightning Source Inc. A summary of this book can be found at this URL:http://www.wsunews.wsu.edu/pages/publications.asp?Action=Detail&PublicationID=10877.
- Hide quoted text -

Quotes from this press release:

Orlich said the key to effective school reform is to determine what needs fixing and then prepare a plan. He proposes a system similar to the one in Nebraska, which uses a combination of student tests, student work portfolios, local school district standards, and all tests and standards must be appropriate to the grade level.

“My primary purpose in writing this book was to show that at the state and national levels political policy-makers are simply stumbling through educational reform based on a market-driven political ideology and a very serious attempt to privatize the nation's public schools. The NCLB violates the Tenth Amendment to our great Constitution. Public education is a state’s right, not a federal right,” he said.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dr. Orlich has been around a long time and has been a steady and vocal voice about issues around the WASL.

Dora Taylor said...

If we were to have charter schools in Seattle, the better educated and financially well off families would benefit the most. There is nothing egalitarian about charter schools.

This is a part of a post that I wrote a while back:

"I was having a discussion the other day with some parents about charter schools and we all agreed that our children could benefit from that situation. We have the knowledge and wherewithal to either establish or select a school that would fit the needs of our children. We would have knowledge of the programs available, we would understand how to gain access to those schools, and our students would perform up to the standards set by the school. But that is not the case for all families. There are many families who do not have access to information to make these sorts of choices, maybe they do not speak English or have access to the Internet. Maybe, due to circumstances that they have little control over, there is not enough time or resources to ensure that their children will do well on a standardized test that determines whether they remain in a charter school. It is an inherently biased system towards those who have and therefore these schools should not be publicly funded."

You can view the entire post at:

http://seattle-ed2010.blogspot.com/2009/10/where-do-we-go-from-here.html

It's a temporary post page until we get our shiny new website which will be coming soon.

Joan NE said...

Dora - RTT program announcement makes clear that states should be targetting title 1 schools for charter school conversion. Also, SB6696 says that Title-1 and Title-1-qualified schools will be targetted before non-Title-1-qualified schools will be targetted.

So I don't think that the economically advantaged families are going to see much benefit from charter schools.

In so far as Education Reform is a privatization movement, to create charter schools for other than low-income families creates competition for existing private schools. This would be counterproductive from the privatization movement perspective.

TechyMom said...

I've thought a fair bit about choice during the time that the NSAP has been in the works. I liked the open choice program, and dislike the NSAP. A couple of things that I think contribute to this...

1) I firmly believe that one size education does not fit all kids. As a kid, I languished in traditional classrooms, and only excelled in self-paced environments. I know other kids who, when asked to set their own pace, set one with no progress at all. I like the idea of experimental education, where a school community is making it up as they go along. I have also chosen, as an adult, to work in an enviroment where the rules change constantly and where I am able to set my own pace.

2) In a school district with no option or magnet or charter schools, there is no ability for most kids to find a program that suits them best. Families who can afford private school have these choices, families who can't, don't. Choice programs are an equilizer between middle class people and upper-middle/upper class people. They allow savy families with moderate incomes to access the sorts of programs that wealthier families have always had access to.

3) Choice programs may make the gap between lower and middle class families greater, by allowing middle class families access to the sorts of choices upper class families have always had, leaving families who can't or don't 'work the system' behind.

I have always felt that #2 is of vital importance, for training the next generation of professionals, and for preventing the sorts of smart burn-out kids I used to hang out with as a teen. I still know quite a few people with genius-level IQs and GEDs, because traditional school worked so poorly for them that they won't even try college.

I am starting to understand the importance of #3. I'm not at all sure it out-weighs #2. I suspect that reasonable people will fall on either side of that question, and that where you fall on that question will largely determine how you feel about charters.

Joan NE said...

TEchy Mom - I agree wholeheartedly that having choice is important. SPS is made stronger as a system - and better for everybody to the extent that it has choice.

I wonder how many people realize that we already have charter schools in Seattle? We call them alternative schools, but it would save a lot of confusion if we started calling them internal or district-managed charter schools, or C54 schools (C54 is the alternative school policy).

An internal charter school system I can abide and will fight for, but I will fight AGAINST independent charter schools. There are so many problems associated with independent charter schools. Just have a look at seattle-ed.blogspot.com to see why.

Unfortunately, MGJ hates C54 schools. She is trying to phase them out and get C54 repealed. I think this is because as long as there are C54 schools, parents can legitimately argue that there is no need for independent charter schools.

Restructuring schools to create independent charter school opportunities is the ultimate goal of the Education Reform movement.

reader said...

The job of the district is not to be an equalizer for the middle class and the wealthly. If middle class people need to leave because they sense a need to keep up with the Jones... or the Gateses, that is a fine option. Pay for private schools, do what you need to do. The job is to close the achievement gap and to provide a safety net for those who can't. Not an easy job, but when there are choices, that is the priority. To prioritize "making" the middle class the same as the wealthy is a huge waste of money (they can do it themselves).

TechyMom said...

That's true to a certain extent. However, I know some families with kids in 'progressive' charter schools in California, who are very happy with those schools. They get messed with by the district far less than our alt schools. At least part of that is because they have a charter outlining the expectations of both parties. Our alt schools serve at the pleasure of the administration, and are constantly fighting for their survival.

I would like to see each of them have a MOU with the district, like South Shore does.

hschinske said...

As a kid, I languished in traditional classrooms, and only excelled in self-paced environments. I know other kids who, when asked to set their own pace, set one with no progress at all.

Gee, TechyMom, I had no idea you'd gone to Nova :-) You'd definitely find both kinds there.

Helen Schinske

Central Mom said...

Joan, What passes for an Alt school in Seattle these days, minus Nova, is nothing like the ideal "internal to the District choice" you mention. Seattle alt schools have seen their curriculum choices, leadership, budget, transportation, and social climates subsumed by Central Staff in the past three years. Ask any teacher or parent at any of these schools. They all feel the change.

If true Alt Schools could exist within the District, then that would certainly be a win for both parents looking for choice as well as those who fear the ramifications of Charter schools.

One would think this ideal would be valued at Central Staff level, but it is not. There is not even an Alt School Director. Heck, we don't even call them Alt Schools anymore. It's Option Schools now.

What's the definition of an Option School? Something that isn't a neighborhood assignment school. If there is a weaker/less supportive definition of Alternative Education in a same-size school district, I invite someone to find it.

TechyMom said...

Reader, you state that as a fact, but really, it's your vision of the role of public school. Mine is different. I think the role of public school is to provide a high quality education for all citizens, regardless of income. I believe that a high quality education includes options for different kinds of pedegogy. I don't think that public schools are only for the poor, and that if they become that, then class distinctions are enforced, and social mobility is limited. I hear that you don't. That's what I mean by reasonable people falling on different sides of the question.

TechyMom said...

Helen, I wish I'd gone to Nova. Didn't grow up here, but if I had, that's where I would have gone :-)

Melissa Westbrook said...

"If we were to have charter schools in Seattle, the better educated and financially well off families would benefit the most. There is nothing egalitarian about charter schools."

I think the data on successful charters would not support that statement. The higher-performing charters do serve low-income students and precisely focus that way.

That said, many of them are very small, have extra funding and also have longer days (which could be good but not all parents would make this choice for their students). And, there aren't enough of them so having a few great charters doesn't make the case for them.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

The $3.1 million that will go for Performance Management is equal to about 39 teacher jobs.

I fully expect that there will be a significant RIF this year, and one of the contributing factors will be the budget "enhancements," including Performance Management.

What the Board and superintendent are effectively saying, by their actions, is that Performance Management is so important that it's worth 39 teachers.

I may not agree with that tradeoff, but I think it ought be acknowledged that that is the tradeoff they're making. It should also be acknowledged that a RIF comes with a cost: it brings instability to schools. Some very good teachers leave, and they never return. Some teachers are put into assignments that are not appropriate, but the RIF forces principals to fill the gap. Other teachers inherit more preps and more complex schedules and larger class sizes because of staff reductions at their buildings. And so on.

I will likely be RIF'd this year, as I was last year. I accept that. When I was recalled from RIF last August, I ended up with an extremely difficult schedule, but in the long run, the change was beneficial for my career and, I'd like to think, my students. Another RIF might, in the long, bring unanticipated benefits.

I used to have mixed views about the seniority system, but I've come around to being in favor of it, even if it means I'll lose my job in the coming weeks. SPS is the most politically charged place I've ever worked. As unfair as the seniority system is, any other system in the hands of politically motivated administrators would be even more unfair.

BTW, I enjoyed meeting you last evening, Melissa. (Please don't "out" me. I'd like to remain anonymous on this blog for the time being.) Cheers.

Sully said...

Dora said "That said, the development of STEM is looking more and more like how charter schools are established. Many charter schools start in existing school buildings, usually with an existing public education program in place, and over time take over more and more space"

Once again, this is not unique to STEM. Every single alternative school, including NOVA started in a public school building that once housed a traditional school. Are all of our alternative schools charters? If not, what makes them different from STEM?

And Chris is Thornton Creek a soft sell to charters too? They offer the Harvard model of ELOB. It's a self-selected school too. How about Salmon Bay, and NOVA? Center School? AS1? All soft sell charters?

C'mon folks. We vote down charter schools here in Seattle BECAUSE we have alternative/option schools that offer unique programming as part of out public school system. If you want to call STEM a charter and make a big stink about it, and if you are succesful, and thwart it's progress, then be prepared to open the door for charter schools. Without our alts and option schools families will be much more likely to welcome in charters.

So be careful what you wish for kids.

Joan NE said...

Central Mom, you state that except for NOVA, our C54 schools are not truly alternative. "Ask any teacher or parent at any of these schools. They all feel the change."

I am one of those parent (Thornton Creek). I agree with you. I feel the pressure from the Central District to become more traditional. I am fighting to preserve policy C54 and see it enforced, especially in the areas of curriculum and testing.

"If true Alt Schools could exist within the District, then that would certainly be a win for both parents looking for choice as well as those who fear the ramifications of Charter schools."

I absolutely agree with you here, too.

Seems to me if we want to keep independent charter schools out of Seattle we need to do some or all of these:

1. Fight to win back a true, thriving system of C54 district-managed charter schools. How do we do this? We induce the Board to require MGJ to uphold C54 and promote C54 schools. We must also induce the Board to limit Maria's unlimited prerogative to replace principals.

2. Induce the Board to revoke the perf.mgt policy and to adopt a policy against high stakes testing. (If the perf. mgt. policy is revoked, then Maria can't excercise the more harmful restructuring options listed in the perf. mgt policy. The purpose of these options is not to "fix" the struggling schools as much as to create charter school opportunity.)

3. Drive Maria out of Seattle, and make sure we don't get another Broad-affiliate or reformist to replace her. How do we drive Maria out? We make her uncomfortable at her every public appearance (signs, chanting, etc.)

4. Make sure the McGinn doesn't somehow get the power to appoint the school board members.

5. Let legislators know that we don't want charter school authorization legislation.

6. Let PTA know that you don't want charter school authorization legislation. As it stands, State PTA and Ramona Hattendorf/Seattle Councl PTSA supported SB6696 - this is so unhelpful. Problem is they have a huge state-wide distribution list, they can mobilize parents to contact legislation, and parents trust their recommendations.

7. Support efforts to get SB6696 overturned, and to put in its place a genuinely constructive ed reform bill.

Dora Taylor said...

Sully,

The difference between STEM and alt schools is that alt schools have a diverse program, they are liberal arts schools. STEM, as with many charter schools, are specialized. I am not saying that STEM is a charter school, it obviously isn't, but as I said, it is in the embryonic stage ready to be a charter school if and when that happens.

Alt schools take anyone and everyone, STEM being specialized in the area of math and science will not.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

And STEM with its $800,000+ cost and NTN influence cannot compare to the home-grown alts who were born to communities with vision and purpose. This alone makes it much closer to a charter than a high school like NOVA or The Center School.

Dora Taylor said...

Techy Mom,

Thanks for the tip.

wseadawg said...

Sully: The key issue with STEM is the NTN version of it. They are quite restrictive in their model in terms of accountability and oversight, and appear to be a tightly controlled private business model, with strict intellectual property rights on all of their materials and processes, so replicating it elsewhere cannot be done without violating their intellectual property rights, etc.

I don't think Charters, per se, are the problem. The problem are the fast growing and consolidating privately run EMO's (Educ Mgmt Orgs), who will not hire union teachers, run the schools like military institutions, and contract with their private sector buddies, wily-nilly. Most parents who try to influence governace are shown the door, and many charters have extremely high attrition rates.

They can call a school an option school, an alternative school, or a carrot, for all I care. But it should not displace union teachers and create competition and conflict, where boards, chancellors, and mayors pick winners and losers, with Charters treated as pets, and traditional schools like backwater cesspools.

There may be a great Charter idea out there. But to date, the most corrupt chains with the highest attrition rates are getting all the contracts, and not doing any better than traditional schools.

The problem I have, is that I know which model Broad likes and supports, and that means MGJ likes it too. The EMO, so called "non-profit" model, where principals earn as much as MGJ, and the community has ZERO influence.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Alts all have a focus so how is that diverse or liberal arts? I'm confused on that.

For the last time, anyone can go to STEM. I'm pretty sure they will self-select, meaning students who feel unsure probably won't choose it. But there are no science or math requirements.

From the STEM page:

Any student who will be entering 9th or 10th grade in September 2010 and is interested in a high school with a focus on Science Technology Engineering and Math is eligible to enroll in STEM – no matter where they live in Seattle. There are no admission requirements!

If more than 500 students apply, a tiebreaker system will go into effect. Three key factors will be considered:

1. Sibling is already at Cleveland
2. Student lives in the Cleveland geographic zone
3. Students will be drawn by lottery

Look at that: if you live by Cleveland and STEM has too many people, Cleveland geographic people get to go before a lottery.

Dora Taylor said...

Joan NE,

I hear you and what you are saying does provoke thought.

If you look at the Chicago model that Arne Duncan developed where the Southside was to undergo major redevelopment, the target population were the African American communities.

But what happened was that when the schools were "turned around" and made into charter schools,the original students of those schools were scattered to the winds,kind of like STEM. see:

http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/23_03/arne233.shtml

and scroll down to "Collateral Damage". (Techy Mom, I haven't figured out your instructions yet.)

I understand your point about the private companies not wanting to get too close to the wealthier demographic and compete with private schools but then again, why not?

Also, people are taking their students out of private schools right now because of the economy. What better place to look than a charter school?

I think that's why charter schools have become so segregated.

See:

Schools Without Diversity
http://epicpolicy.org/publication/schools-without-diversity

New Report Explains that Charter Schools' Political Success is a Civil Rights Failure
http://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/news/pressreleases/pressrelease20100204-report.html

Seung Ok on Charter Schools
"Scroll down to Seung Ok Writes"
http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2010/02/seung-ok-on-charter-schools.html

And on Democracy Now:
http://www.democracynow.org/2010/2/11/charter_study

Dora Taylor said...

Joan NE,

I got off track with the Title 1 thought.

I am sure that if there was money to be had in terms of Title 1, the Renaissance 2010 development got it during Arne Duncan's tenure as CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

If you think in terms of someone who is out to make a profit, they would want to use someone else's money first, and their buildings, to start up a business.

The thinking is 180 degrees from how most of us as parents and educators think. We would think, oh yeah, that makes sense, give it to the children who need it the most. I'm all for that. But this charter school movement, this neo liberal Education Reform movement, began with big money folks, the likes of AIG, Eli Broad and the Waltons and they are thinking about this in a different way.

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

"Alternative/option" schools are Seattle's "alternative" to traditional schools. Some of our alt/option schools are liberal arts progressive alt schools like NOVA, but others are not. Some are Montessori schools, others are international schools, and ELOB schools, and environmental science schools (jane Addams), and magnet schools (like STEM).

All of these varieties of "options" are alternatives to the traditional and fill the place that charter schools would otherwise fill.

We need a wide variety of options that meet many families needs so we can stave off the charter school movement. Instead of narrow mindedly insisting that alt schools can only be liberal arts focused schools, why not welcome all of our options and stengthen Seattle's chances of voting down charters next time they hit the ballot?

If you don't embrace the many different types of option schools, and you try to limit alt schools to only liberal arts schools, be ready to reap what you sew. Charters.

Families want options, many of them, and they will get them one way or another

Dora Taylor said...

Melissa,

Nova does not have a "focus". The courses offered are the usual, math, science, English, history, art, music, foreign languages and some sort of physical activity.

The seed for Nova and other alt programs in Seattle such as AS#1came from Summerhill. The book "Summerhill" describes it best. I read it during my college years and loved it. To get a sense of it you can see:

http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/pages/about.html

Dora Taylor said...

Sully,

Alternative schools do not appreciate being lumped in with "Option Schools". That is a term and development that happened during the rollout of the SAP.

We see it as a way of marginalizing our alternative programs.

Yes, you have your option schools as you described and there are the alt schools and yes, with them in place, we do not need charter schools. In that we can agree.

But they are different and we are in the process of making that difference clear to SPS.

Central Mom said...

Sully, You've got it wrong. Montessouri and the language immersion schools are categorized as neighborhood programs. Our District has NOT categorized them as alt (Option) programs.

They will NOT be open to people looking for diversity in course offerings. Well, technically they will be if they don't fill with neighborhood kids, but the reality is that you are looking at 1 or 2 students a year per program, if that.

The District has made it exceptionally clear that Alt schools are not a priority. And many in the community would say that they are actively undermining the schools. Nibbled to death by the ducks (Staff at HQ) from a variety of ill-thought out program plans and nary a comprehensive look at alt schools in sight.

DeBell to his credit wants a board workshop on this. Good.

Central Mom said...

AND, if you really want to get down to it, the way principal contracts are set up, combined with the reality of MGJ's top-down style means that Alt School parents aren't exactly getting huge support from their very own administrative staffs either. I know, I know...there are exceptions. But again, go do due diligence. Exceptions are the rule. So, alt school families get little support from their own administrations and even less from Downtown. It is truly depressing.

Dora Taylor said...

Sully,

I have no desire to get personal with you, but I prefer to be called by my name, hence the use of my real name, and not "kid(s)".

Anyway, I'm not clear on your statement about how alt schools were originally housed in school buildings. Actually Nova started out in a storefront about twenty years ago. It was not trumpeted with lots of money and fanfare but quietly with a small amount of students and a big vision. There was a secretary and a principal and students. That secretary eventually got her degrees and certificates and became the principal of that school. Her name is Elaine Packard. She eventually pulled together all of the alternative schools that had been established and through many hours of discussion and through consensus created the Alternative Education Committee Final Report.

http://sites.google.com/site/seattleschoolsgroup/alternative-education-committee-final-report

It was this report that was used to develop the C54 policy that is in place regarding alternative schools.

It is this report that makes an alternative school what it is and not any other kind of school.

Dora Taylor said...

Joan NE,

I'm with ya on all seven points!

Dora Taylor said...

And Sully,

I'm not sure why the state of Washington has voted down charter schools three times.

It doesn't seem that it would all have to do with Seattle since there is the rest of the state.

Does anyone have any sense on why our state has not wanted charter schools in the past?

Dora Taylor said...

Melissa,

I have not come across specific data about successful charters, where they are and the socio-economic background of the students.

If there is such a study, please point me in that direction.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think charters got voted down because they couldn't prove that they were highly successful and would make a difference and that they wouldn't hurt existing public schools. I think that's still true today except for the national push for them via Obama and various wealthy foundations.

For info on successful charters, go to the Center for Reinventing Education at UW. They are big charter supporters and have done tons of research.

http://www.crpe.org/cs/crpe/print/csr_docs/home.htm

Try Caroline Hoxby, a Stanford economist. She did a study. Also, Jay Mathews of the Washington Post wrote a book on KIPP.

But that's for charters done right which certainly isn't the majority of them.

Dora Taylor said...

gavroche,

It is interesting looking at the number of years that the supe has held positions. If I was looking at her resume in a job interview, I would be hesitant to hire her.

Too many moves in a short period of time.

Dora Taylor said...

Melissa,

The Hoxby Report, which I like to call it the Hoaxby Report, was done by an economist, not an educator.

See:

Diane Ravitch take on the Hoxby Report
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/2009/11/obama-and-duncan-are-wrong-abo.html

And on Education Notes:
http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2009/09/caroline-hoxby-has-dog-in-race.html


Regarding the gold standard in charter school studies, I would refer to the CREDO Report.

http://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&q=cache%3A1KCWs0WHX6cJ%3Acredo.stanford.edu%2Freports%2FNational_Release.pdf+%22charter+schools%22+and+%22stanford%22+and+%2217+percent&hl=en&gl=us&pli=1

http://ed.stanford.edu/suse/news-burea/displayRecord.php?tablename=press&id=15

Neither one of them, though, specifies the specific schools and demographics that would support your case.

In terms of UW research, they receive grants from Gates, the Broad and other foundations that for me automatically eliminate my interest in their findings. Same with anything out of Harvard where Broad has sunk millions of dollars in coming up with his own "data".

Dora Taylor said...

Melissa,

I did this post on the Seattle-Ed blog when the report first came out:

http://seattle-ed2010.blogspot.com/2009/10/hoaxby-study.html

The Hoaxby Study

Based on an article in the Charleston Post and Courier titled "High Marks for Charter Schools", I posted a response that I wanted to share with you:

Per the Charleston Post and Courier:

"The study did not reach any conclusions about why charter schools succeeded, but noted that many had extended school days and school years, mandatory Saturday classes, performance-based pay for teachers and a disciplinary policy that punishes small infractions and rewards courtesy."

The reason that the scores are high is because these charter schools can and do kick students out of their school if they do not perform at a certain level in terms of test scores. See "Charter schools pawn off flunking students, says public school principal"

See:

19 Charters Pawn Off Flunking Kids

It is of interest that the schools that are referred to in this article are in the same location as the schools that Ms. Hoxby “studied”.

Also, the individual doing this study is an economist, not an educator. If you want to see a study regarding charter schools that was done by a team of educators also from Stanford, see "PACE issues scathing report of charter schools". This study was paid for by the WalMart Foundation who were proponents of charter schools.

A statistical analysis that does not look at potential causes in my view is not a study.

Also, charter schools hire young and inexperienced teachers who don't mind working the longer hours and receiving minimum pay and benefits. They also don't mind the merit pay system where their income is based on how well their students perform on a test.

See: "David B. Cohen and Alex Kajitani: Test scores poor tool for teacher evaluation" .

This one study does not validate anything about charter schools one way or the other. The term “long term study” is not at all what this paper was. It was simply an exercise in statistical analysis based on test scores that were gathered over a certain period of time and an extrapolation based on that data.

An additional note: Ms. Hoxby is a longtime and vigorous advocate of "free-market solutions" in education, such as charter schools, vouchers and privatization. That is how she is primarily known. That discredits any purported “study" she leads. This report is simply an advocacy paper by an outspoken partisan, not an impartial piece of academic research.

Dora Taylor

Post Script: "The charter school problem: Results are much less positive than a new study suggests" by Diane Ravitch

Post Script: Reardon, S.F. (2009) Review of “How New York City’s Charter Schools Affect Achievement.”

And Another Post Script: Headline-Grabbing Charter School Study Doesn’t Hold Up To Scrutiny

Eric M said...

I'm an actual teacher (and a really good one, by most accounts). Like most teachers, I strongly object to many of the tenets of performance management.

Here's the text of an email I sent to all the board members on Monday.

a) What's the performance for teachers? It's all terribly vague, and stokes a reasonable fear that if the School Board approves it, it can easily change focus and specifics.

There seems to be a complete emphasis on test scores ("formative, summative, and benchmark assessments"). More standardized assessments? Who pays for all that? The assessment plan only gets rolled out NEXT month.

What role, if any, do our own classroom assessments play in this brave new world? Many subjects don't have tests, now, or are inappropriate for standardized testing (ceramics? PE ?). What about all the extra things we do, like letters of recommendation, or grant writing, or running a club? If that's not part of performance management, why should anyone do it? For that matter, why should we continue to operate in a collaborative environment, or even share equipment or ideas? If our colleagues look worse, don't we look better?

Furthermore, if performance is all based on standardized assessments, we all teach to the test, all the time. Is this what we are? And won't some teachers cheat to get better scores? Hey, it happens elsewhere, and there's a thousand ways to do it...



b) This initiative is based on the fine work implemented at Oakland and Fresno, California school districts, according to the document. These are historically ridiculously terrible school systems, with widespread endemic challenges substantially different from our own. Is that who we are, and can that then be an appropriate recipe for Seattle Public Schools?

Eric M said...

continued..

c) The plan suggests that only schools that can show testing success in all 3 categories: "absolute scores, relative improvement, and elimination of score gaps between high and low poverty students", can "earn" a relative autonomy in some types of program decisions. Achieving this benchmark, especially in the absence of specifics, would appear to be close to impossible, and signals the end of any effective autonomy for most, if not all, schools in SPS.

Low growth and have low absolute performance will be subject to numerous punitive measures, including a "change in school staff". Within our current contract, if acted upon, this would constitute an unfair labor practice. This will probably be a major point of contention as our new contract gets bargained.

We believe the tone of this is punitive and anti-teacher, and will serve generally to lower morale. We already note some of these effects. Ironically, the best a school and its staff could do under this philosophical construct is to be left alone by JSCEE. There seems to be no greater reward for doing well.

Furthermore, it holds the potential of punishing most critically the staffs of schools most impacted by endemic poverty. These schools are already struggling. Now they're going to be even harder to staff, and the dedicated teachers already there are to be placed at perpetual risk of removal. They can expect to have little opportunity to develop programs or make the kinds of decisions that most teachers (or any professional highly-educated adults) take for granted. We believe the effect of this will be ultimately racist in nature, as it undermines the best characteristics of good schools in "high-poverty" areas.

Ultimately, the plan radiates a cultural arrogance about the very nature of learning and teaching, discounting all other ways of knowing in favor of individualized performance on mainstream-normed tests. In the guise of equality, this plan promotes a cultural stratification and a defacto cultural apartheid for our diverse school communities.



d) Already, in a time of desperate budget crisis, this plan is diverting resources from buildings. It holds the promise of pitting schools against each other for resources, and of diverting resources precisely from successful schools and programs. The level of standardized assessment hinted at in the plan must require a new tier of middle- and low-level managers to rank every body and every program. Bigger classes and laid off teachers, and diverted funds to performance management are already visible in the current rounds of budget committee meetings across the district.

There are hints that the definition of what qualifies a child for free or reduced meals is being altered, in order to free up additional funds. We do not understand the details of this, but find the concept extremely troubling and bewildering.

Eric M said...

So, I got one response from a board member, who didn't seem to get ANYTHING I was saying. So I reiterated...

Thanks for your response.



From the Instructional Philosophy document:



Effective teaching, measurable outcomes, ongoing assessment, professional development and continuous improvement at the student, school, and district levels.





To reiterate just one detail from my earlier email…



If, (just for instance), writing a letter of recommendation in support of a student’s college application, doesn’t produce a measurable outcome (and I would challenge anyone to detail how it might), why should I do it, under this new understanding, where a teacher’s sole worth is based on test scores?



More generally, anything that doesn’t lead to “measurable outcomes” is, by definition, worthless.



This job we teachers do is incredibly complex, and defies facile quantization. I am a highly educated, creative, committed person, and reducing my job to a test score is reducing me to a guy at the Ford plant who turns the same wrench on the same bolt, every hour, every day.



I invite you to come follow me around for just a day, and try to count and categorize what I do, and the enormous number of decisions I make. My day starts at 7 am, and I don’t take a lunch break, so be prepared to go without. We’ll have face time with students until 4:30 or so.



I try to get my students to like science, and be interested and informed enough to be “science voters”.

Unmeasurable. Worthless.

I wrote and was awarded a $7000 grant last year for equipment for students to do astronomical observing and analyze their measurements. I built an observatory in my yard, near where I work, so students can use it, and use authentic astrophotography in the new astronomy classes I got put in place for next year.

Unmeasurable. Worthless.

I’ve developed a really popular project-based physics class that gets students beyond the textbook into authentic experiences.

Unmeasurable. Worthless.

5 years, I went to the South Pole and worked on a neutrino detector there. I webcast from the South Pole back into my physics classrooms. Every year, I spend a day describing the science and adventure of this incredible experience.

Unmeasurable. Worthless.



There’s a lot of urban mythology floating around about how it’s all the teachers’ fault. There may be some bad teachers, but there are way way more that work really hard, are really well-educated, and really creative, and add enormous value to children, in all kinds of ways.



This business the school board is in the midst of approving will drive all of that out of our schools. Then, I’ll send my own kids to private school, where they can get a real education.

Eric M said...

This is the text of one of the speakers at the Board meeting 3/17, who spoke about performance management.

Good evening. My name is Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs. I am a professor at Seattle University, with a Ph.D. from Stanford University, a credentialed bilingual teacher in California and Washington States, and a parent of Seattle Public School students. I am deeply concerned about the cultural apartheid that will occur if Dr. Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson’s performance management initiative.

As someone who served as the Wismer Professor for Gender and Diversity from 2007 to 2009 at Seattle University, I find these initiatives utterly dumbfounding because they would eliminate the possibility of our youngest and most diverse teachers’ and students’ advancement and the recognition of their value by privileging only one way of teaching to our children.

Incredibly enough, our superintendent, a woman of color herself, wants to continue counting beans with measuring cups instead of measuring the abundant essence of what diversity, bilingualism, social class issues add to the learning and teaching of our students and teachers.

How will the fieldtrips to the Indian Cultural Center or to El Centro de la Raza be measured in containers? How will the empowerment of children of color taught by people of color for the first time be measured with her strident initiative? Will standardized tests measure the anti-racist and anti-homophobic initiatives teachers add to their curriculum in order to create a classroom with less micro-aggressions against people of color, girls, homosexuals, gay and lesbian teachers? Will “teaching to the test” improve understandings of cultural difference?

These standardized tests privilege normalized middle-class ways of knowing the world, which paralyzes growth and learning about the enriching value of working-class and immigrant peoples’ participation in the learning and teaching process. This also excludes the parents of color and working-class parents, whose knowledge about the world becomes superfluous according to this curriculum. This initiative establishes, for our students, a standard by which we judge society, which also delimits the diversity.

As a child growing up in migrant camps and moving around throughout the year, I understand the value of respect from teachers for my mother’s tortilla-making skills and my father’s work in the fields. This respect and these skills did not come about through a standardized test, but through compassion, collaboration, and the participation of immigrant parents in our classrooms. This allowed for other children to value what my parents had to offer as they crunched on a delicious apple, which my father picked, or ate Green Giant cauliflower, which my mother packed.

As a professor, a past high school and junior high school teacher, and a published academic in the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality, I deeply resent the arrogance of this initiative. If there was one thing I valued about living in Seattle, it was teaching the students that came from kind, creative, communal teaching environments in the Seattle school districts in the past. I hope these reductionist and unfair initiatives will not be implemented to the detriment of our kind, well-trained, and well-educated teachers.

Dora Taylor said...

Here here! Eric.

I am glad to see teachers taking a stance.

We hear too much now in the press, because of the efforts of Arne Duncan, about "failed schools" and "ineffective teachers" but my daughter is now a senior in high school and out of all the teachers that she has had, I can only think of two that required me to step in and augment her studies.

I admire all of you for your dedication, your devotion to our children and education in general.

Thank you.

Eric M said...

and, finally, let me add, as a witness to the proceedings at the Board meeting Wednesday night, that the Superintendent's "appearance" immediately after public testimony concluded was arrogant beyond belief. That this School Board tolerates and condones her absence and facile excuse at a public meeting like this illustrates just how ineffective and beholden to her, and the ideology of the Broad Foundation, they have become. In voting to approve performance management, they placed themselves as signatories to a policy, which if enacted fully, would be in violation of their contract with teachers. The Superintendent has created an extremely confrontational and morale-destroying environment for Seattle teachers. We would all do very well to replace her.

Dora Taylor said...

YES!

dan dempsey said...

... Deja Vu round #2 ...

.. The $800,000 "Do-Over"


Hey now do not miss out on that short introductory presentation by CAO Enfield... .... HERE

dan dempsey said...

As commonly happens I disagree with Reader...... again.

"The job is to close the achievement gap and to provide a safety net for those who can't."

It is most certainly NOT the job.

Article IX:
It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.

We can close the achievement gap by having almost all know next to nothing at all.

The task is to provide each child the optimal opportunity for learning within the limits of the allotted resources. This should be accomplished through intelligent decision making.

The allotted resources should be substantially improved as the NEWS funding lawsuit will eventually be settled.

The idea of having schools assure us that all will master the same materials neglects the reality that students are unique individuals.

We have seen a seemingly endless barrage of pointless edu-jargon foisting untested theories as proven truths upon the families.
"Best Practices" says who?

"Research-Based" by whom?

It is time to educate each child to maximize their potential by developing their skills and knowledge.

Unfortunately the Goodloe-Johnson machine is miles away from even understanding the task much less providing solutions.

Dora Taylor said...

The Rise of Venture Philanthropy and the Ongoing Neoliberal Assault
on Public Education: The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation by Kenneth Saltman

http://m1.cust.educ.ubc.ca/journal/index.php/workplace/article/viewFile/65/saltman

Excerpt from page 54

"The Obama administration’s approach to education shares the venture philanthropy
perspective and agenda imagining public schooling as a private market within which
schools must compete for scarce resources. The neoliberal ideal of public-private
partnership can be found at the center of this agenda as charter schools are being
aggressively supported as a means of injecting “competition” and “choice” into the public
sector. In fact, the Obama administration has taken the cue from the largest venture
philanthropy the Gates foundation. The central project of the Gates foundation in the
first decade of the new millenium has been charter school expansion. As soon as Obama
was elected in fall of 2008 Gates redirected their educational influence in the direction of
graduation rates. Obama’s announcement in the summer of 2009 of the “Race to the
Top” competition among public school districts and states for a limited pool of money
does not only replicate the punitive educational doctrine of the Bush administration but it
also is informed by the Eli Broad prize, discussed below, which uses competition
between locales for limited scholarship money in an attempt to steer educational policy.
In what follows here I criticize the major Broad educational reform projects and by
extension the Obama."

This report is fairly hefty but worth a read.

Getting back to STEM and my initial statement about charter schools, another red flag for me is the Gates money that was, to my understanding, seed money for this school.

I have no problem with the school and what people are trying to make it into, a good school with a certain focus, but when I see so many indicators in play I begin to question the ultimate motives.

By the way, the people at STEM have been having discussions with Nova about Nova's project based learning approach to education. There IS a lot to learn from our alternative schools.

Dora Taylor said...

Eric, thanks for posting the testimony of Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs.

Her testimony was brilliant as she seems to be and provided for me another point of view on the Performance Policy and the Assessment Policy that are to be put into place.

Sully said...
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Sully said...
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Sully said...

Eric said "There seems to be a complete emphasis on test scores ("formative, summative, and benchmark assessments"). More standardized assessments?"

Well, Eric, join the club. Now you know how "the complete emphasis on test scores" has felt to our kids for years. The over emphasis put on the WASL stresses our kids out year after year. Teachers talk to kids about how important it is for them to pass the WASL, they do WASL test prep drills every day for weeks leading up to the test, and urge kids to get a good night sleep so they can be at their best on test day. That's stressful. Then add to that, the fact that kids can't graduate from HS without passing the "test"....talk about performance management.

I don't believe in high stakes testing.....but if our kids are held accountable to pass the test then teachers should be held accountable too.

Maybe when teachers are held to the same standards our kids are, they will join forces with parents in advocating to dump high stakes testing once and for all. Maybe by working together we can make a change.

I'm not against standardized testing for students, in fact I think they are useful. I'm just against high stakes testing, performance management and all that goes along with that.

dan dempsey said...

More on what schools should be doing to meet the needs of each learner as required by article IX.

Here is yet another example of ample education for all ... that Seattle's TEAM MGJ has yet to even see much less plan to deliver.....
=========

From a friend:
"Where's The Math? is definitely for mastery at each level of mathematics. Most members are also for placing kids according to their abilities at some point before high school.

(see Schmitz Park's Singapore Math delivery system or the different model of delivery with North Beach's Saxon.) {Note Schmitz Park and North Beach both group students differently than the standard SPS differentiated instruction across an unbelievably wide range model.}

Our California School District had three "lanes" in high school. The fastest lane went through calculus, the middle lane through pre-calculus, and the slower lane went through Algebra II. Students could step from one lane to a slower paced lane if they were struggling. It was a great system.

One of my sons finished BC Calculus as a Junior in HS, received a "5" on the AP test, and then went on to take Linear Algebra through Stanford as a senior. He has a BS in computer engineering and a law degree, specializing in intellectual property law. He is now an attorney in California, writing and defending computer patents.

I compare his experience with my twins who went to high school here:

My daughter begged me not to make her go to school because she was bored to tears in math class.
She finished BC Calculus as a senior through self-study because there was no class for her.

Her twin brother has learning disabilities and he struggled because he sat in class waiting for someone to explain the math to him.

His father ended up teaching him at home. He needed to be in a slower track. He finished AB calculus as a senior, received a "3" on the AP Calc exam, repeated the class in college and received an "A".

He's doing great in college, but he just needed more time and a slower pace. The "one size fits all" approach is one of the problems with inquiry-based curricula."

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

Who in their right mind would sit idly by and let TEAM MGJ and UW's Dr. James King continue this Abuse of Children and not just their minds but in several cases abuse of the Entire Child's being?

MORE HERE

And HERE

Tim said...

Sully said, "I'm not against standardized testing for students, in fact I think they are useful. I'm just against high stakes testing, performance management and all that goes along with that."

Agreed. But do not forget the other benefits the testing (including the hated WASL) has had. When I started teaching in Washington more than 20 years ago, then answer to my question of "What are the objectives for this course?" was check the textbook for the publishers SLO's. (Student Learning Objectives.) This was true of LA, Science, Math etc. Since Booth's Blue Ribbon Comittee, and a lot of national work, we have actual standards. Science is national - kits we use in Seattle attempt to match State and National standards that were not a focus before all the testing. The standards - EALRS, Essential Learnings, whatever - are what I teach to now, not whatever a textbook manufacturer wants. The tests are supposed to reflect the standards. Some of my colleagues work too hard to teach to the tests instead, but only because they feel the pressure of the "High Stakes" passed down from above. Because I have been around, and have enough years to feel job security, I feel I am able to use my professional judgement to teach to the standards, not the tests. I happily mention this at any meeting it comes up. If our system of evaluation were based on tests, as Eric M points out, it would be easy for anyone to game the system. Just teach like a babysitter one year, establish a mediocre test score baseline, and the ramp it up the next year. Viola! Big raise for me! Growth all around! Of course, I would hope anyone with that attitude would leave teaching before that occured...

But really, if I felt the kind of job insecutity that comes with RIFs and low seniority, my behaviors would be a lot more CYA to provide for my family, and a lot less risk taking and great teaching. More Dog and Pony shows and teaching to whatever test is in vogue. I am reminded of an evaluation I got from one principal who felt I didn't have students come to the board enough. She had nothing to say about their learning, just wanted to micromanage a specific in my teaching. (Of course, she had no idea how many students came to the board any other day but the day she was there.) So what did I do the next time she observed? Any guesses? Bueller?

Suffice to say she loved my teaching the next time...

High stakes no, standards yes.

dan dempsey said...

Sully offers this 100% Spot On pearl of wisdom:

"I don't believe in high stakes testing.....but if our kids are held accountable to pass the test then teachers should be held accountable too."

I would add "Accountability" not just for the teachers but also for the Central Office Administrators, academic coaches and UW Professors who direct projects in our k-12 schools. Certainly Dr. James King should step right up for his "Cleveland High School" math fiasco that experimented on children for three years with a novel approach that produced disastrous results.

Only a totally incompetent incoherent system would be holding either teachers or children libel for this, which was clearly an unchecked poorly monitored poorly supervised fiasco. Where were the SPS Central Office administrators and any of the 111.5 coaches when needed?

Accountability needed!!! You bet.

Let's start with High Ranking Officials in the Goodloe-Johnson administration and MG-J as well. They advocated and pushed these lousy practices and extremely poor instructional materials upon the children. See proceedings at Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany, from 1945 to 1946, at the Palace of Justice, for a suitable model.

Sully said...

Well said, Tim "high stakes no, standards yes. I agree with you 100%.

Sully said...

And, Dan, I agree with you too. Why should only students be accountable to pass the test, and teachers be accountable to get kids to pass the test?

Move the accountability up the ladder to Pricipals, ed directors, Ms. De La Fuente, the school board that rubber stamps everything, and MGJ.

That's accountability. That's performance management.

gl1 said...

Reading all these comments- the anger, confunsion and politics reinforces my decision to pull my kids out of SPS. Some months we only have $200-$400 left to our name in the bank account but our family doesn't have to be part of this unending madness in SPS.
I see now how fortunate I was to grow up in a rural area with one of our nation's top public schools without the alienation of big school politics.

Joan NE said...

gl1 - Part of the intent of the madness in SPS is to drive out to private schools and to private tutoring services all those who are willing to pay the tuition. Education Reform is a corporatist movement to privatize public education, after all.

Maria Goodloe Johnson and several board members would view flight to private school an indicator of success.

I don't blame you.

If my family could afford this, we too would probably make that decision. In a way I am glad it is not an option for us, because I like fighting the good fight, and I view it as social service to disadvantaged children. I am working on many fronts to expose MGJ's agenda for what it is, and to try to take back the schools from the Broad Foundation and other corporatist elites.

These efforts of myself and few other parents (e.g. Dora Taylor) won't meet much success if a large number of parents don't help by participating in rallies, petitions, blockades, anti-levy campaigns, and so on.

It would help so much if those of us trying to organize parents had the PTA's e-mailing list! Then we could counter the unhelpful work that Ramona Hattendorf (president of SEattle Council PTSA) is doing.

HEre is one easy thing parents can do. Email Ramona at

president@seattlecouncilptsa.org

Tell Ramona that you don't support SB6696, the Community Values Statement (Ramona orchestrated a campaign to get the Seattle Council PTSA to endorse this), thje performance management and related policies proposals, high stakes testing. Tell her that you support "Authentic Accountability" and VALID, constructive use of standardized assessments, but do not support high stakes testing

"cc" me so that I can have documentation of how many folks emailed her. And let me know if you are a PTA/PTSA member or not.

My fellow organizers and I can use this as evidence of lack of community support for the current direction of SPS. With your permission, we can add your name to an email distribution list.

my email: joan@mathascent.org

Bird said...

I am working on many fronts to expose MGJ's agenda for what it is, and to try to take back the schools from the Broad Foundation and other corporatist elites.

These efforts of myself and few other parents (e.g. Dora Taylor) won't meet much success if a large number of parents don't help by participating in rallies, petitions, blockades, anti-levy campaigns, and so on.


I'm no fan of charter schools, but when I read your and Dora's posts, I can't help but think you're pointing your hose at the wrong fire.

Public education is a disaster for a huge percentage of students in the district. Have you seen the rate at which the district fails to graduate it's students? Have you seen the number of students who can't pass the 10th grade WASL? Have you seen the utterly abysmal test scores from schools like Hawthorn?

The house of education is on feakin' fire for poor kids in this district, and you're fighting the little fire that jumped onto a bush in the backyard.

You want to fight charter schools, educational foundations and charities, and corporate interest in education, you need to put out the real fire. As long as it's burning this hot, it's going to be hard to turn back people who are seeking changes.

Joan NE said...

Bird - I have written elsewhere that parents are so busy putting out the little fires that MGJ is setting all over the district (the latest being the reduction in librarian and counsellor FTE's) that we are not able to become pro-active.

Earlier in this thread, I gave a list of seven actions that to me seem like the most important things to focus on if we want to be more constructively proactive.

What do you think of that list? What would be on your list?

I would like to hear what you - and others - view as the most serious fire(s).

Joan NE said...

Bird - I agree that it is the low=income and minority kids, and especially the kids in Title 1 schools that will suffer the most from all the changes that MGJ and allies have brought and will be bringing to the District.

The effort I am putting in to this is for those children, most of all.

Bird said...

Looking at Hawthorn's recent WASL scores, I see that for 3rd grad African-American students at the school, only 5% met the state standard in reading and math. 5%!
If 5th grade the number is 11%.

I read through your seven point list and notice that you could achieve all those items and still have kids at Hawthorn with abysmal academic outcomes. Fix this problem and you won't need to worry about the educational reforms you fear. Leave this problem to fester away, and you'll have a hard time arguing against change because, for these kids, it's hard to imagine something worse than what they already have.

You may think that the push for educational reforms is a conspiracy arising largely from corporate interests, but the truth is that there are a lot of people with the best possible intentions who are simply fed up with our failure to adequately educate the poorest of children.

Take Geoffery Canada. I think it'd be hard to say he is not 100% focused on generating positive outcomes for poor kids, and he backs charter schools.

http://www.charlierose.com/
view/interview/8864

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0807004235
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0547247966

If you are going to fight school reform, you absolutely have to have an answer for how to fix the school system for poor kids. I don't think you can win the fight otherwise.

Joan NE said...

Eric - you wrote "Low growth and have low absolute performance will be subject to numerous punitive measures, including a "change in school staff". Within our current contract, if acted upon, this would constitute an unfair labor practice. This will probably be a major point of contention as our new contract gets bargained."

SB6696 had a clause that said that union-district contracts could not have clauses that prohibited any of the four federal restructuring models. I don't know if that clause is in enacted version.

The Federal (RTT) restructuring models are conversion to charter schools, school closure, replacing half the staff, and transformation model. The latter is by far the most detailed model in the RTT program announcement. The Transformation model to is very similar to what is required in Title-1 Schools. And it is very similar to what AS#1 and PAthfinder are going through now (they made it to step five on the NCLB school degradation ladder.) In fact, AS#1 and Pathfinder CSIPs are called "Transformation Plans."

All four of these models require that the principal be replaced.

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

Bird, bird, bird! I think you've got your hose pointed at the wrong fire.

Those of us in programs that were doing fine and thriving should not have been displaced, split-up, and thrown into convulsions by SPS Admin, when what they should have been doing is exactly what you want: Helping the struggling kids who need it most, while leaving programs that worked fine alone.

The district played the old haves vs. have-nots/black vs. white cards, and every other card in their deck to disrupt strong programs, and for what? To help the kids at Hawthorne or AAA or any other struggling school?

This is the point Dora, I and others make over and over. If you need to play Robin Hood to keep things fair, that's fine. That's what the community wants and votes for, levy after levy. We all want that, but the district just won't focus on the hardest challenges, like doing something about the actual children at Hawthorne RIGHT NOW!

Look what they're doing to Cleveland. They'll disperse and scatter low performing kids, and blend them in elsewhere to make it look like "schools" are turning around, but the "actual children?" Nothing. Nada.

I totally and wholeheartedly agree with your concerns, but what most of us argue is to take what we know works and try to replicate it, or at least give school communities and children the resources tailored to their specific needs. This administration is doing exactly the opposite by trying to standardize every offering in every school. Great for the school brochures and course catalogs, but again, how about the kids who need extra help? The district's answer seems to be: Darwinism.

If we didn't have to spend so much time pointing out what we like about, and what we know works with our particular programs, we might have time to rally with the rest of the community to direct our focus toward the communities that really need help. Unfortunately, the district will not relent in its ongoing attack, and we waste needless time and resources fighting for things we should so obviously NOT be forced to fight for.

The districts "soften-em-up" strategy harkens back to the pre - Gulf War I carpet bombing that so preoccupied the Iraqi army with mere survival that the ground war ended in 3 days.

Don't you sense that tactic going on in Seattle, with the closures, openings, splits, mergers, budget problems, musical chair principal assignments, etc. How much disruption can a population take at one time and maintain its sanity?

The district knows exactly what its doing, and divide and conquer is a huge part of it. Let's stay together and aim at the same fire. We're all on the same page. (I think).

Melissa Westbrook said...

Very good, Wseadawg.

Yes, this much churn (as Mary Bass used to say) is quite suspicious especially for a district with seemingly no money. How is it we can undertake all these reforms that will cause us to need new materials, teacher training, equipment with so little money? It does boggle the mind.

But really why fight Dr. Goodloe-Johnson? There's other players to persuade and that may be the way to go. (But I need to think about it and lay some groundwork.)

Chris said...

The fire is poverty, folks. We really don't see what pointing the hose at teachers is going to do. The people behind these reforms have a long history of increasing economic inequality.

What I would lobby for now is following the cohorts of the "transformed" schools. Because the MO seems to be to make them disappear.

Chris said...

and great idea Joan! Actually, Melissa, given MGJs reluctance to attend contentions board meetings, she might be easier to dislodge than we thought. Let's make her want to miss every one!

Joan NE said...

Bird: Here is a list I created to stimulate thinking on "Quality School." This is cast in the negative. It doesn't look anything like what the District's priorities are; nor does it look anything like the District's definition of Quality School.

This describes, in the negative, what I see as constructive ed-reform.

The high rate of NCLB-defined failure of Title-I schools is certainly due in part to the big obstacles faced by those low-income children and minority children that lack family support and whose parents have low-educational attainment. But other factors taken together may well dwarf the importance of family-of-origin factors. Unfortunately, current education reform legislation being moved through the state legislature this session in support of this state's application for the Race-to-the-Top competition, will, in my estimation, exacerbate many of these adverse factors.

Acronyms used:
APP accelerated progress program (for highly gifted students)
ERAR Education Reform Accountability Regime (includes high stakes testing, merit pay, federal models of school restructuring)
FTE full-time equivalent
RTT Race to the Top
SB6696 Senate Bill 6696; Washingon Legislature bill in 2010 legislative session.
SPS Seattle Public Schools
SWP School-wide program.

Joan NE said...

[continued]

The adverse educational factors that increase risk of academic failure include these:

1. lack of high quality preschool experiences

2. lack of a high-quality, well=supported K-12 social skills curriculum

3. inadequate psycosocial, health, and academic support services in these Title 1 schools (in SPS, only schools with high-need special ed students get more than 0.2 FTE nursing.)

4. poor quality, outdated, damaged textbooks and workbooks.

5. inadequate supply of textbooks and curriculur materials

6a. having ERAR that instead of intellectually challenging, engaging, student-centric, democratic and egalitarian, culturally and ethnically relevant flexible curriculum.

6b. having ERAR, which appears to repel good teachers.

7. inadequately staffed and stocked libraries

8. too-large class sizes.

9. inadequate free tutoring whether during our outside of school hours for kids trying to succeed in challenging academic courses

10. disallowing remedial courses in high school (this is SPS' policy).

11. insufficient offering of interesting electives

12. not having enthnically-relevant and culturally relevant humanities/social science courses or electives.

13. not allowing for genuine honors and APP courses (opening these courses to any student, regardless of whether the student is adequately prepared for the advaced, faster paced courses)

14. inadequate high quality vocational education courses in high school

15. making algebra a high school graduation requirement

16. increasing required course load to 24 1-yr classes for 9th-12th. This leaves no time for electives

17. increasing the hurdles for on-time high school graduation by
a. having high stakes testing regime
b. imposition of Core24
c. rigid grade-retention policy.

18. policies that cause disruption of the teacher-student and peer-relationships of affected students.
a. an anti-social promotion policy
b. school restructuring (called for in SB6696)
c. closing school buildings and dislocating students to achieve fairly insignificant savings

19. indadequate college and career counselling; lack of elective, high-quality, paid (subsidized) job-internship opportunities for high school students.

20. being a Title-1 or Title-1 qualified school, and therefore at greatest risk of getting targetting for being restructured according to one of the four (Federal) models in the RTT Final program announcement (Federal Register, Nov. 2009)

21. school staff and parents not having any say in whether a principal stays or not, and when a vacacny occurs or is created, not having the right to choose the new principal.

A report titled "School Reform in Chicago: Lessons for the Nation" (from Designs for Change - can easily be found on the web) shows that the most successful Title I-qualified elementary schools in Chicago are those that have most or all of a certain "five pillars" in place, including having an intellectually-challenging and engaging curriculum, and having the right to choose their principal.

Joan NE said...

Possibly of interest to some:

The “Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools” list is now public, and available on our website. Below are the links of interest:

http://www.k12.wa.us/
http://www.k12.wa.us/Communications/PressReleases2010/SchoolsEligibleFedGrants.aspx

http://www.k12.wa.us/Communications/PressReleases2010/SIP/LowestAchieveingschools.pdf

The third link is the list of schools. The second link is a page with more information that helps explain more about the School Improvement Grants.

Joan NE said...

SB6696 press release from OSPI mentions a certain committee. I requested information on this. Here it is.

email for public records requests from OSPI: OSPIPRR@k12.wa.us

Notice that there is a open meeting at Seatac on March 25 - any one concerned about the fate of Title 1 schools under SB6696 which requires restructing of 5% of the states schools (50% in ten years!!!!).


Joan,
I am sorry that it took me so long to get back with you, especially since this information is easily accessible on the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) website on the Achievement Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee web site.

This website has a link to the legislation, Second Substitute Senate Bill 5973, which requires OSPI to identify school districts that have the most significant achievement gaps among subgroups of students and for large numbers of those students, and districts that should receive priority for assistance in advancing cultural competency skills in their workforce.

Membership can be found on the left hand side of the main page and again in the January 2010 report from the committee.
Past meeting agenda, schedules and notes are also available under the “Meetings” link on the left hand side of the main page.
The next meeting is Thursday, March 25 from 8:30 to 4:30 at the Sea-Tac Hilton (Emerald Room F). From 12:34 to 2PM will be a Town Hall. These are meeting open to the public. Please e-mail the Center for the Improvement of Student Learning (CISL) at cisl@k12.wa.us for more information about next week’s meeting, future meetings or to be added to their distribution list.
I believe this information addresses all your questions in your public records request, and I will close your request. If I have missed one of your requests or you need additional information, please let me know.

Sincerely,
Susan S. Wilson
Public Disclosure Officer
OSPI
(360) 725-6372 - Office
(360) 586-7251 - Fax

KG said...

MGJ Should be required to and not allowed to duck out of the public part of the board meeting since it is a as DeBell says a "Democracy"

Yeah OK sure. The board ought to grow a spine and DEMAND MGJ be at all parts of the meeting. Oh she ought to get a bonus for that.

What a Farce she is And her in the pocket DeBell.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Joan, to the best of my knowledge, most high schools have NO barriers to taking honors or AP. (No, I haven't checked every website but I think those days are gone. You DO have to have certain prerequisites like having taken a couple of years of Spanish before taking AP Spanish or taking several math classes before AP Calc. Those make sense.)

Why is requiring Algebra so bad? Just asking.

I'm not for social promotion; students need to be ready for the next level of classes. Seat time isn't enough. If there are supports for students who are behind, great but you do them no favors to advance them to work they cannot do.

"paid (subsidized) job-internship opportunities for high school students." - Most internships aren't paid. This really is more for the greater community than the district.

Lastly, it has been widely stated that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's child is at South Shore. I don't know this for sure. I did check and there was nothing on the South Shore calendar for Wednesday night. Maybe it was some other pre-school event. Dr. Enfield was sitting in for her during the testimony. I wonder if Dr. G-J asked about the testimony.

Sully said...

Joan NE, what math class do you see kids taking instead of Algebra?

I took "business math" instead of Algebra in high school. It was ridiculous.....I learned how to balance a check book, calculate sales tax, etc.

I had a whole lot of catching up to do post high school.

Is that what we want for our kids? An easy out?

And to second Melissa, anyone at my kids high school can take any AP class they choose provided they meet the class prerequisites. There are no barriers.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

When Joan wrote:
13. not allowing for genuine honors and APP courses (opening these courses to any student, regardless of whether the student is adequately prepared for the advaced, faster paced courses)

I read it that she was arguing that there should be barriers to the AP and Honors classes—that somehow you're setting kids up to fail by letting them into a class that they're not prepared for. I could be wrong, as it's not 100% clear.

Joan: Can you clarify this item?

Dora Taylor said...

Joan and gl1,

The agenda is about driving students into charter schools.

There is a great book called The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein that describes well what we are going through now.

Remember when Arne Duncan said that the best thing to happen to education in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina? Well, I don't think Duncan is savvy enough or well read enough to understand what he said, although many of us had to smile because that is the point of the "chaos theory" and what he unwittingly engineered in Chicago through influence by Broad and the developers of Renaissance 2010.

See:

http://sites.google.com/site/seattleschoolsgroup/the-shock-doctrine-excerpt-from-the-introduction

for an excerpt from the introduction of the book.

Dora Taylor said...

gl1,

I understand about wanting to protect your child from what is going to happen. It's not going to be pretty if the supe is able to follow through on her, the Broads' and Gates' agenda.

My daughter is almost finished with her high school education so we will stay and I will fight, not for her but for our educational system in Seattle and the students who are in it.

Dora Taylor said...

Bird,

I understand about how many students are not learning the basics, that they are being pushed along through to graduation where they are sent into the world not able to have the skills necessary to work at Microsoft but, that first and foremost has to do with the lack of funding for our public schools. And it has been going on like this for about 4o years or so. It's chronic and is reflected in our educational system today.

See my post:

Where Do We Go From Here?

http://seattle-ed2010.blogspot.com/2009/10/where-do-we-go-from-here.html

And actually, we do have successful programs right here in Seattle and they are our alternative schools.

The best part about these schools is that even without adequate funding these schools have thrived for the last 20 years and have been successful at providing each student with the opportunity to succeed in the way that they can as individuals.

At Nova because the school is student oriented, each graduate, because of the opportunity that they have to make choices about how their school is run and are responsible for those decisions, is well prepared to face the world after high school.

Each student is able to go as far as they can and no one is judged on their abilities, their dress, their race or any other component that makes them who they are.

And on top of that, the WASL scores are through the roof even though the test or any part of it is NOT emphasized in the classroom.

That's you're go-to model and it is attainable. We have it already. This is not an impossible task and wouldn't cost half as much as what the supe wants to do now.

hschinske said...

And on top of that, the WASL scores are through the roof even though the test or any part of it is NOT emphasized in the classroom.

Nova has, I should think, a substantial proportion of students who walk in the door able to pass the tenth-grade WASL. I don't think such a statistic says much one way or t'other about what their education is like once they get there. Same with the SAT.

Helen Schinske

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

Dora said in reference to NOVA "That's you're go-to model and it is attainable."

Dora, NOVA is a very unique school. It works well for a certain type of kid, and family, but it is NOT for everybody. While a highly motivated student will likey thrive at NOVA, less motivated kids struggle. Further NOVA does not offer any AP or IB classes (which may not matter to you, but it does matter to many other families). Nor do they offer a full sports program, strong band, or orchestra (again may not matter to you, but it does matter to many kids). In other words, though NOVA may be a great school (and it is), it is not a comprehensive school nor is it traditional and as such it works well for a small percentage of students but does not appeal to the masses.

It is true that NOVA is succesful by most measures, and the school fills every year - but they do not get a large waitlist. That tells me that the school appeals to enough people to sustain itself, but again, it does not appeal to the masses.

I'd argue that if we had to have a "go to" model that a school like Roosevelt would be a stronger candidate. Not because it's a better school than NOVA (it's not), but because it is a much more popular model with families. It works for a wider range of kids. With choice, Roosevelt enrolled 1700 kids last year, and got a 300+ kid waitlist. Families are constantly asking the district to replicate what Roosevelt offers.

Personally, I don't think the district should ever box themselves into any one style fits all, "go to" model for high schools. I like the diversity that our high schools offer, but if we had to come up with a "go to" model, I'd look to see what the majority of families were asking for. Just something to think about....

Joan NE said...

Several questions to answer. First questions about my anti-list of indicators of quality schools.

Please understand that this is merely meant to jumpstart what I hope will be a collaborative effort to come up with a definition of a quality school. My goal is that this definition will be used to inform the Board as to what people want SPS to stand for, and to inform a legislative proposal for next year that will bring CONSTRUCTIVE education reform, and overturn SB6696.

How about folks work to write a

"Community Definition of Quality Schools"?

This will counter the exceedingly vague and misused "Coummunity Values Statement" that Ramona Hattendorf got PTAs and PTSAs to endorse.

I certainly am not married to anything on this list. As a collaborator, I wouldn't require to keep something on the list that is controversial. The algebra recommendation seems to be controversial.

I hope that this list can be genuinely research based. I recently saw a report that says that requiring algebra as a high school graduation has not had the intendent effect. I will see if I can relocate that report.

I am a person with high math aptitude and interest, and did a science major and an engineering master's, so I feel I am in a good position to know whether algebra is necessary.

Here is my current opinion on this:

I don't think algebra is necessary for the general citizen. Students who are interested in math, or have an inclination toward careers that require knowledge of math (such as economic, sciences, education, engineering, medicine, statistics) should absolutely take algebra. It is difficult to succeed in high school chemistry and higher level math courses if one doesn't have a solid algebra course.

Unfortunately, the algebra that SPS offers is NOT genuine algebra!

Any student of SPS that wants a quantitative career needs to get outside tutoring if they want to be ready to take calculus as a Freshman in college, and not have to first take remedial math classes.

Recent research shows that making all kids take algebra to graduate from high school has not been successful at achieving the intended outcome - which is that more kids will be able go to college.

I can try to find that citation if any one wants it.

Requiring algebra of all students has the effect of being another unnecesary hurdle for graduation: it will contribute to lower graduation rates.

SPS math curriculum in K-9 is inquiry math, and it leaves kids unprepared for a genuine algebra course, much less a psuedo-algebra course. It is SO UNFAIR to kids to eliminate all remedial math in high school, as SPS has done.

I want to see schools provide great educations to all students, but I don't want schools to set unreasonable high bars that make the attainment of graduation an impossible task for some students.

If SPS has a high quality math curriculum, and all kids had access to high quality pre-schools, and if SPS provided adequate tutoring and remediation for students that need it, then it might be reasonable to make algebra a high school graduation. At the present, I think such a policy will just cause more students to fail to graduate.

What if, instead, we used as a measure of district quality, the percent of students that graduate with credit for a genuine rigorous algebra course? The District scorecard could keep track of this for all the high school math courses.

Instead of making algebra a graduation requirementLet's hold the District accountable for seeing that these statistics improve over time, !

About Roosevelt High School as a model fora ll SPS high schools:

I understand that the quality of education at Roosevelt High School is going down, due to such policies as requiring algebra of all ninth graders - without any sorting by preparedness -, and due to curriculum alighment.

Can anyone comment on this?

[I still have more questions to answer, and will do so as I find the time]

Melissa Westbrook said...

How is the Seattle Organizers Community Values statement being misused?

Also, again, we did make it somewhat vague because we aren't telling the district/SEA what to do. We are telling them what we value which is different from a definition of a quality school. We were writing to fit the teacher negotiations.

"Requiring algebra of all students has the effect of being another unnecesary hurdle for graduation: it will contribute to lower graduation rates."

And you base that on what? Has it contributed to lower graduation rates? There is a direct correlation that some study has found? I think that would be pretty difficult to isolate just one factor as the reason graduation rates went down.

You understand that the quality of education at Roosevelt is going down? Based on what? Curriculum alignment isn't even in place yet. What is offered and how it is offered may change but again, that doesn't mean the quality of education is going down.

Joan, I think you are injecting more than a little opinion/bias into statements that you wish to be factual. It's find if you want to say you know someone who doesn't like the changes at Roosevelt or if you yourself believe algebra isn't necessary for high school students but that's not the same as having factual information.

Dora Taylor said...

Diane Ravitch on NCLB, high stakes testing and the new education reform movement. An interview.

http://www.youtube.com/user/EPIdotORG?feature=mhw4

Dora Taylor said...

Helen,

The students that sign up to be at Nova are no different than any other population of students except maybe in how some of our students chose to express themselves.

It is ironic in a sense that the WASL scores for English/language arts are the highest in Seattle considering that our teachers do not follow the typical path of teaching from a text but broaden the student's views and experiences by providing a wide range of reading sources and topics of discussion.

It is impressive.

When my daughter went to the school for an orientation where the student spends a morning sitting in on classes, she got in the car afterward and was so excited by what she had learned in the English class. She was ready to go to the book store and buy the books that the students were discussing.

THAT'S education.

It sounds like you don't know much about our alternative programs. If that's the case, we in the Alternative Schools' Coalition would be glad to provide additional information about our schools and even give you parent/student tours of our schools.

If you provide students with enough challenge and support, they will blossom. The other very important thing about our schools is the sense of community among the students and parents. At Nova, everyone is accepted and treated with respect. That is expected and also makes our schools different from others.

Someone came up to our principal at the Option?Alt Schools' Fair and asked how many fights we have at Nova. My daughter who was there to represent Nova with other students was very puzzled by this question. Mark, our principal, said that there has been one fight at Nova since he has been there. Mark has been there for ten years. Mark asked my daughter who was standing there if she ever saw anything like that and she couldn't believe that could possibly happen at Nova or anywhere else for that matter. It's not part of her reality, thank goodness.

It is a very different approach to education and to understand how it is successful, you really need to study it as a model.

It does work.

Dorothy said...

"The students that sign up to be at Nova are no different than any other population of students except maybe in how some of our students chose to express themselves. "

And your evidence for this is....?

Joan NE said...

[sorry in advance for typos - don't have time to proof-read]

I don't want focus on any particular item on my draft inverted quality indicators list, such as the algebra requirement.

Whether this makes the final list or not should be up to the task force. If you want to be involved in the task force work please let me know.

My evidence about Roosevelt? Based on a few conversations with students. But anyway, I wasn't asserting quality was going doing, I was wanting to know from parents whose kids are at least juniors or seniors whether they notice that the quality is changing.

"How is the Seattle Organizers Community Values statement being misused?"

Our concern was that orgs like LEV and Stand-for-Children would use this in their pro-SB6696 lobbying that this is evidence that there is broad community support (in Seattle at least) for SB6696.

In fact this CVS was misused, as indicated by the fact that LEV contacted at least one true grass roots org and asked the leader of that group to sign on. LEV is a state-level corporate funded non-grassroots org that pretends to be grassroots and which is strongly in favor of SB6696 and high stakes testing.

Maybe Sherry Carr is using the CVS as evidence that parents in Seattle want the performance management policy. This is a misuse of the CVS.

The vagueness of the CVS, and its use of reform code-words makes it easy for LEV and other reform groups to misuse the CVS. I bet most parents didn't know what they were signing on to when Ramona promoted this to PTA/PTSA

Dora Taylor said...

Sully,

My point is that there are already successful models in place right here in Seattle that can be used to make all of our schools more successful.

We don't need to take the slash and burn approach to education, particularly here, to improve our schools. And, not every school has to be a Nova. But we can learn from what we already have.

The APP program has been a relatively recent development and was, up to this year, at least for elementary school, been housed in one building. Now, the APP is split apart but from listening to parents on this blog and elsewhere, it is not working as well as it had before the split which is unfortunate.

I'm not sure how that compares to what I'm saying about alt schools. At his point APP is still segmented off.

Regarding sports, because the students are a part of making the decisions on what the curriculum is there is sports but not the typical basketball and football, it's what they want to do and are interested in.

In fact, students who want to be involved in team sports such as football and basketball can join a team at another high school. We now have a student who has earned his letter in the sport that he participates in and we are all proud of him for that.

What the students like to do for their physical activity is Frisbee football (I think that's what they call it), hard core, where the kids use the hard urban surfaces for running and jumping and other non-traditional sports. I would betcha that if students at other schools were able to make their own choices, many of them would choose to do these kinds of sports as well.

And actually, because of the move, we do have a gym and an outside field that we use. Also, I know that other alt schools are in facilities where there are playgrounds.

Regarding AP, we do have AP science. That is something that the students wanted so it is in place.

I see Nova as a comprehensive school in the sense that it addresses the students requirements and needs.

If the students wanted a band, that's what they would do. They would raise the money and have a band. I think what you want to say instead is that Nova is non-traditional because it IS comprehensive. It covers all of the subjects one needs to receive a degree and if the student chooses to can go on to college.

Students do best in different environments, whether it's APP, traditional, non-traditional, alt or option. What is important and what makes Seattle unique is that there are successful programs here for all students to have the opportunity to succeed.

In terms of a wait list, large or small and to whatever you are comparing that to, there is a list. My daughter had to wait a semester before getting into Nova.
Actually Sully, how do know how long our wait list is? What do you know or have access to that the rest of us don't?

It would be nice not to have a wait list at all but the facility that we are in allows us to have only a certain amount of students.

Also, we like it small. There is much to be said for having a small school community, something that I think most parents and student would prefer.

If you want big, yes, there is Garfield. There is much to be said for those schools. Some students love the opportunity for a larger population of students and that kind of culture.

But then, that gets me back to my point about our schools in Seattle. There is already something here for everyone so let's learn from what we have, not throw out the baby with the bath water as our supe/Broad/Gates triumvirate would like to do.

I don't know if I said it here but the alt schools can be models for other programs. STEM is collaborating with Nova in terms of developing a project-based class model for its' program.

Dorothy said...

Dora, the Nova demographics page makes it very clear in which ways the Nova kids are different SES-wise than the SPS averages. And your anecdote about your own daughter shows that very likely, your daughter would have gotten a high score on the 10th grade WASL as an 8th grader. Your anecdote actually aligns with Helen's assertion. And believe me, Helen's assertion comes from years of following the district and being quite a data wonk. As she has stated publicly, she's a professional librarian, editor and fact-checker, has three kids in SPS including one at Nova.

All Helen meant here was that you cannot use high WASL scores at Nova as any indicator that the school is any good. It does seem to be quite good; there are other indicators of success. But some folks like to use WASL or SAT scores as indicators of success of Nova and that's simply not justified.

Likewise, APP programs. Back when the district was trying to review and accredit highly capable programs, one of their indicators of success for elementary APP was that the WASL scores were so high. Wow! And guess what! At Lowell APP none of the teachers ever taught to the test; none gave the WASL more than a passing thought. High WASL scores at Nova are just as much an indicator of Nova's success as high WASL scores are for APP kids.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Our concern was that orgs like LEV and Stand-for-Children would use this in their pro-SB6696 lobbying that this is evidence that there is broad community support (in Seattle at least) for SB6696.

In fact this CVS was misused, as indicated by the fact that LEV contacted at least one true grass roots org and asked the leader of that group to sign on. LEV is a state-level corporate funded non-grassroots org that pretends to be grassroots and which is strongly in favor of SB6696 and high stakes testing.

Maybe Sherry Carr is using the CVS as evidence that parents in Seattle want the performance management policy. This is a misuse of the CVS.

The vagueness of the CVS, and its use of reform code-words makes it easy for LEV and other reform groups to misuse the CVS. I bet most parents didn't know what they were signing on to when Ramona promoted this to PTA/PTSA"

Joan, what are you talking about? Who are you referencing in "our concern"? The CVS doesn't say anything about supporting any legislation and I would think, given the groups involved, that we would all not be happy if someone appropriated it that way.

You may only like or trust "true grass roots" organizations but there are many organizations that did start at grassroots and have grown. It's a very difficult task to get a message out with little or no money. That said, I too check how orgs are funded.

Do you know that Sherry Carr used the CVS in her decision? I listened to her comments on this issue at the Board meeting and she said nothing.

A lot of things can get misused. Stats, studies, anything. But this idea that the Coalition is a bunch of (a) rubes getting used or (b) establishment types trying to use other groups to move their agenda is not true.

We formed around the issue of teacher contract negotiations and the ability for parents/communities to be kept informed of the issues/progress made during them and the ability to give input so our voices can be heard. Yes, very scary.

Chris said...

In support of what Joan said about Roosevelt, a parent at Harium's meeting brought a student-piece from a newsletter and expressed his own concerns about AP Human Geography replacing AP European History. I don't know much about this but what it sounded like was that AP Human Geography is a um... "more accessible" AP course designed to get more kids taking AP. Which sounds a little like dumbing down curriculum to make your numbers look good.

Anyway, what was more interesting was a statement that "lots of people, students and parents" are concerned about this but are just keeping quiet. "They just want to get their As and get out of there."

I tend to be a "teach kids to learn and they can follow their interests and be functional in life," but I definitely get a little scared thinking about a potential generation that doesn't know basic American or World History.

Anyway, it's not like Roosevelt is all fine and dandy, even though most of the city would love to have their problems.

Dorothy said...

Ok, off topic but I found it amusing. I went looking for Nova demographics and found that the school district's web page with the drop down menus to find schools, you know that page?

Well, Nova and almost all the "alternative" schools we now call "option" schools are not separated or otherwise annotated as such. Look for Nova in the regular High School menu. There is a drop-down for Alternative schools. That's a list of re-entry programs, SBOC and Thornton Creek.

Dora Taylor said...

Dorothy, my evidence is just being there when we had our open house. If you want stats ask our principal.

Seriously.

The students are not screened for their grades or test scores. We take everyone including special ed, many homeless students and other students who are no longer with their parents. We take students who are autistic or are in other way pereived as different or who have not felt comfortable in a more "traditional" high school because they were made to feel different and were ostracized. We get students from all walks of life that find our school challenging and nurturing.

As I stated previously, you are welcomed to see the school and meet with the principal, parents and students.

It seems, reading your reactions to what I have been saying about Nova, that many of you are not acquainted with the school or any other alternative school.

If you want to, you can contact me personally at dora.taylor@gmail.com and I can put you in touch with parents at other alt schools or staff at Nova who could provide you with more information and insight into our programs.

Anyway, the night of the open house, I was at the PTSA table and there were students and families of all types who came through our doors.

I also have had the opportunity to meet with a class of students on a fairly regular basis in a government class so I see what the population is. It's a mixed bag but that's what I like about it.

Chris said...

BTW math teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed your testimony. (I often thing people make good points, but enjoyment is a more rare occurrence.) Come back anytime.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The APP program has been a relatively recent development ..."

Define relatively recent development as APP has been around a long time (at least a couple of decades).

It's called Ultimate Frisbee and just FYI for everyone, it's a big sport in SPS middle and high schools with Hale being the NW? girls champions for several years.

Dora Taylor said...

Dorothy,

We are well aware of that situation and are trying to remedy that through SPS.

We were listed as alternative but when the SAP was rolled out, all alt schools were grouped in with the Option schools. We have responded as a group and want to again be defined as alternative schools within the parameters of the C54 policy.

The Alternative Schools' Coalition is in the process of doing that now.

Dora Taylor said...

Ya know, it's a nice afternoon outside and I am going to enjoy it for a few hours.

I do not like to leave comments unaddressed so I will be back for more interesting and challenging conversation either this evening or tomorrow because it's suppose to rain on Sunday.

And do I have the stats on that you ask? I don't, someone just told me.

Sully said...

Joan said "I understand that the quality of education at Roosevelt High School is going down, due to such policies as requiring algebra of all ninth graders "

When asked for evidence to back this statement she says "My evidence about Roosevelt is based on a few conversations with students."

You're kidding right? You make a statement that one of the top performing, most popular high schools in the districts quality of education is going down based on a few student opinions? Your credibility is tanking Joan.

When you make these types of sweeping statements use some type of credible data to back them up - or state that this is merely your opinion. Data is not a few students opinions - it is measurable and quantifiable outcomes, like WASL scores dropping, a drop out rate increase, or more than usual number of teachers transferring out of the school, etc.

Joan here is some data for you. All SPS high schools require Algebra for 9th graders, not just Roosevelt. And, it's nothing new. Before Discovering, schools used the Integrated curriculum to teach 9th graders Algebra and Geometry. So why would you single out Roosevelt?

As for your need to assert that NOVA "works", well, who said it didn't?? The only thing that was said is that it doesn't work for everyone.

And here is a thought....there are no fights at NOVA because it is a self selected choice school. Kids may express themselves uniquely at NOVA, but how many students at NOVA are gang members? How many students at NOVA leave campus at lunch time to go and rob a convenience store (like the Wilson Pacific kids did)? The answer is none. As an option school NOVA doesn't have to serve those kids unless they choose NOVA, and those types of kids don't choose NOVA. It has nothing at all to do with NOVA's "aaccepting" environment. Think about this... if you were to remove all of the self selected students at NOVA and replace them with 300 Rainier Beach and Cleveland students do you still think there would be no fights? No rapes? No robberies?

That's what Helen meant when she said "Nova has, I should think, a substantial proportion of students who walk in the door able to pass the tenth-grade WASL. I don't think such a statistic says much one way or t'other about what their education is like once they get there"

Dorothy said...

Many homeless kids at Nova? Must be a pretty capable bunch given that the FRL population at Nova is so much less than the district average.

APP a recent program? (Melissa, it's really more than three decades old, not two.)

No one has been arguing that Nova isn't a wonderful place for the self selected bunch that are there. The only thing I am reading people are objecting to is thinking that Nova is a model that would and could work replicated widely.

No one is going to screen the future STEM kids at CHS either. Wanna bet that their WASL scores are really high? Wanna claim that being in STEM is what made their WASL scores high?

Dorothy said...

I know all about the option and alternative naming issues. I just think it's funny that someone misplaced Thornton Creek by lumping it with the re-entry schools.
Perhaps especially after Harium misused TC so boldly by suggesting that since TC does PBL so well, STEM will be awesome. (Like TC is a high school, like it does PBL for math, like TC uses fancy software and a 1:1 student computer ratio...)

ParentofThree said...

I have also heard some grumblings by both RHS parents and students about the program offerings. The "AP for All" was really looked at as a reduction in rigor and now the LA Options program is at risk with "alignment." Which could also reduce the number of academic challenging classes for students.

Sometimes "the word on the street" tells you much more than test scores and graduation rates.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

Back to the Board meeting.

It's clear that Olga Addae is no match for MGJ. To say that Addae is politically inept is an understatement.

When the union President steps before the Board and (had she been there) her political enemy, she should leave nothing to chance. Everything should have been planned and orchestrated to a "t," including audience response. She should have been familiar with the rules, and if she had any question about procedure, she should have inquired.

She should not be reading a rambling speech off a yellow pad. She should have had her speech memorized. And she should know how to command an audience with effect. She should know how to use words and body language and voice and political theater to make her points powerfully and memorably.

Politically, Olga Addae is a babe in the woods.

Mr. Murphy is correct: the so-called reformists have their message down. Of course, you're always fighting such people on multiple fronts, but the message that will most resonate with the voters is: SPS is fiscally irresponsible and untransparent. This should be hammered home, in plain terms, in every speech.

For my money, Meg Diaz's speech was the best of the night.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Last word on Roosevelt - are things changing? Yes. Will the quality of the education change? Yes. Will it be worse or better? As far as what is offered, probably fewer electives. That doesn't make it worse or better academically except in a subjective way.

I think that the AP Geography across the board was not a good idea because it is watered down and not consistent from class to class. I think the idea of encouraging more kids to seek out challenge is what is needed.

Losing AP European History was sad but I will say that we did not have a lot of parents stand up for it. Very few parents came to the PTSA meetings to agitate for it and those who did got to directly addressed the principal.

Sully said...

Dora said "Actually Sully, how do know how long our wait list is? What do you know or have access to that the rest of us don't?"

Well, Dora, I looked at the data. Specifically, I looked at SPS historical data, which you can find on the SPS website here:

http://www.seattleschools.org
/area/eso/OntimeAnalysis
_2009-10_Short.pdf

It shows historical assignment and waitlists, and it breaks it down by year and by school. It shows that NOVA had no waitlist for 2007, 2008 or 2009.

Sully said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dora Taylor said...

Oh, I thought of something while I was outside about our sports at Nova.

I realized while I was thinking about it that the sports at Nova are not gender specific and anyone can play. You don't need to invest in a uniform, just the appropriate footwear and it's all about having fun and getting some exercise. There is a roller skating group that has formed this year and that might be all girls, I don't know. But for the most part, any skill level can join any activity.

Oh yeah, and Nova has horticulture too for anyone who likes to garden or wants to learn how to grow their own vegetables.

Sully said...

Dora said "Regarding sports, because the students are a part of making the decisions on what the curriculum is there is sports but not the typical basketball and football"

NOVA does not offer a wide range of sports like basketball, baseball, football, soccer, Lacrosse, and track, so the school doesn't attract a lot of kids who like to play basketball, football, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, and track.

To say that kids decide what sports the school offers may be true, but it is a little bit skewed, no?

For instance my son loves to play basketball, football, and baseball. Though NOVA would probably work very well for him, he would never choose the school because it doesn't offer the sports he wants to play. So NOVA has effectively eliminated him from their pool of candidates.

My other son has played an instrument in band for 6 years now. Being part of a band is very desireable to him. Though NOVA would work well for him too, he would never choose the school because it does not have a band. NOVA has effectively eliminated him too.

To have the students who are already enrolled at the school, for whom sports and band are not so important, make the decisions is a bit skewed, no?

That is why NOVA is a (great) option/alternative school and works very well for some, but it is not for everyone.

As I said in an earlier post - I very much value our schools diversity. I don't like cookie cutter schools and I don't think that all schools could or should meet all kids needs. I think NOVA does a heck of a job serving the kids that it does. I just think we need to keep it real and recognize that it does not work for everyone.

Joan NE said...

Here are my comments about Roosevelt so far:

"About Roosevelt High School as a model fora ll SPS high schools:"

"I understand that the quality of education at Roosevelt High School is going down, due to such policies as requiring algebra of all ninth graders - without any sorting by preparedness -, and due to curriculum alighment."

"Can anyone comment on this?"

"My evidence about Roosevelt? Based on a few conversations with students. But anyway, I wasn't asserting quality was going doing, I was wanting to know from parents whose kids are at least juniors or seniors whether they notice that the quality is changing."

I'm sorry if it sounded like I was making a factual statement. I didn't mean it that way. I was trying to say that my evidence is anecdotal, from a very small sample.

Here is more specific information on the anecdotes: My friend's daughter complained in summer of 09that MGJ was requiring the school to eliminate popular language arts electives. This has been done. Instead, at each grade level all the students would have to take the same core language arts class. There would be no sorting by interest or preparedness.

This change in the language arts curriculum is curriculum aligment.

Last Spring on this blog there was a strand on this situation. I think Charlie Mas had the most information about it.

A month ago I asked a friend's 9th grade daughter how she liked Roosevelt. She is very good at math, but is stuck in an algebra class that has students of a wide-range of preparedness and interest. She finds the class (and the teacher) unsatisfactory.

She also complained about an "honors" class. I think it was history. Problem is, ALL students take the same honors class. There is no other history course to take besides honors history (or whatever subject it was). So of course it is not really an honors class. This student said there are many group projects. She is paired with kids that are apathetic, so she ends up doing all the work, she feels. Then the teacher uses a peer-grading system. The student speculated that the teacher does this to save work, and so that students that are unhappy with their grade will direct their anger to their peer instead of the teacher. This gal is relunctant to give her peers the grade she feels they deserve, due to fear of reprisal.

From this my IMPRESSION is that Roosevelt has changed significantly recently.

Or is this how Roosevelt always was? I am certain that the language arts curriculum has been aligned. It sounds like history has also been "aligned." I don't know if the stories from the 2nd student are just a matter of bad luck - getting two bad teachers?

I would like best of all to hear from a long-time teacher at R. or from parents of a Roosevelt freshman or sophomore, who also have an older child that is a Senior or a graduate of Roosevelt. These people would be in a good position to comment on whether R. has gone down in quality recently.

I know I have more questions to answer - I will get to them when I can.

Joan NE said...

On the CVS: "The CVS doesn't say anything about supporting any legislation."

Yes, that is true. I didn't claim the CVS says anything about SB6696, though I can see why you might have thought I was implying that.

What I said is that the CVS is quite vague and uses ed-reform code words.

What I didn't say, but should have, is that these two factors made the CVS vulnerable to being used by pro-SB6696 lobbyists in Olympia. My concern about the CVS was always that this would happen. I was especially concerned that LEV would use it as evidence to show legislators that their was implicit in the CVS broad support for the kind of reforms that SB6696 will bring.

This is from a Jan 13 post of Melissa's:

"For the past couple of months I have been part of a coalition group to form a joint values statement for parents/community groups to give to the School Board, district and SEA. The groups include Campana Quetzel, Seattle Council PTSA, Successful Schools in Action, CPPS, Stand for Children and others. Organized by the good folks at the League of Education Voters (our leader is Kelly Munn of LEV), we sought to create a streamlined document that is simple and basic."

Here is an email I got March 3 from the lead organizer of a true grass roots organization in southeast Seattle.

"Joan-I met with Kelly Munn/ League of Education Voters yesterday they are trying to get people to sign on to this
http://www.seattlecouncilptsa.org/uploads/0224_value_statement_2-pager.pdf"

This, FOR ME, is the proof that LEV is very interested in the CVS. I notice that on this Feb 25 version of the CVS, Kelly Munn of LEV is listed as one of the contacts for would-be signers.

Why do you think LEV was so interested? Perhaps for the reason I gave? Can you give a better, and benign, explanation for this?

I said the CVS uses ed-reform code words. These are examples: teacher effectiveness, intructional leader, core academics, multiple measures that include student performance.

It is terms such as these that link the CVS to SB6696, and would allow LEV to use it in the manner I indicated.

My guess is the most folks at the table didn't know they were code words. My guess is these terms worked their way in due to suggestions from someone affiliated with a pro-reform group. Melissa - do you have any recollection that can shed light on the source of these terms?

Whether LEV is grassroots or not is beside the point - sorry I mentioned that. But since I mentioned it... It looks like at least 1/2 of the funding came from two foundations: Bill & Melinda Gates; Nick and Leslie Hanauer.

You ask: "Do you know that Sherry Carr used the CVS in her decision?"

No, I do not. I didn't assert this as fact. Did you notice I used the work "MAYBE"? Clearly, I was speciulating.

I got am email that said that Sherry Carr said on KUOW that parents want accountability. Why does Sherry think parents want high stake testing form of accountability (that is what the perf. mgt and related policies are bring to SPS)? For anyone who recognizes ed reform terms, the CVS certianly can be used as evidence that the community wants high stakes testing form of accountability.

I do know that the Board is aware of the CVS, because Ramona and Heidi gave testimony on it at a Board meeting.

So the CVS may well have played into the politics of passing the perf.mgt policy.

Joan NE said...

Melissa - given the fact I presented about LEV contacting a grass roots org to solicit votes, and LEV being listed on the Feb 25 CVS as a contact for would-be-signers, do you still hold that neither of the following could be true:

"the Coalition is a bunch of (a) rubes getting used or (b) establishment types trying to use other groups to move their agenda..."

Joan NE said...

Melissa - you write "I'm not for social promotion; students need to be ready for the next level of classes. Seat time isn't enough. If there are supports for students who are behind, great but you do them no favors to advance them to work they cannot do."

Melissa - have you seen any research on anti-social promotion policies? The research I have seen indicates that grade retenion does more harm than good. ALl of the suggestions on this list come from my readings on trying to understsand the Broad Foundation, ed reform, and the results of ed reform in other districts around the country.

My hope for the Quality School workgroup is to base the indicators on the best available research, and wherever possible, on the highest quality peer-reviewed research.

If the workgroup finds that the preponderance of the best available research that shows that grade retention is more constructive for kids than social promotion, then my hope is that the work group's final definition of Quality School calls for end to social promotion. But I hope that they will also make clear how to ensure that grade retention is constructive. I presume that the rate of grade retention would drop in school districts that try to follow this model of Quality School.

Remember that my list is just to jumpstart the work of the workgroup, and to give people an inkling of how different the result might be from the SPS and the ed-reform concept of "quality school."

Joan NE said...

Sully says my credibility is tanking. I see the problem as either people not recognizing that sometimes I speculate and opine.

I try to make clear when I am expressing opinion and speculating, but Sully's comment, and some of Mellissa's suggest that this is not clear.

I just ask that people please try to be careful to notice when a statement is opinion or fact. For example, I wasn't stating as fact that Roosevelt is going downhill. I did not say that one-size-fits all algebra occurs only at Roosevelt. I already know that it is happening across the district. It is the policy that is a problem.

I want to bring out what is happening at Roosevelt, because then maybe north-enders will be able to better understand what are some of the pitfalls of the curriculum alignment policy, the policy against remedial math, the policy of encouraging more students (including ill-prepared students) to try to take APP and honors courses.

If more parents don't get active in opposing the district-wide policies that MGJ is bringing, instead of just putting out the brushfires she sets at their schools, then nothing will stop this awful transformation that SPS is going through.

Lowell PTA has written a petition to MGJ to let Lowell keep it'shighly valued full time counsellor posision. They are treating this as a brushfire. The letter only talks about Lowell. If Lowell parents would recognize that this is a much larger problem, and that it is just one little bit of all the harm that MGJ is doing, and would then try to get organized with parents accross the district to get rid of the ARSONIST IN CHIEF (and get a wonderful, non-reformist replacement),

only then can we parents prevent the continuing demise of SPS.

Joan NE said...

Lest anyone accuse me of being elitist in talking only about Roosevelt and Lowell in the preceding comment, please see what else I have written earlier in this strand, and you will know that I am not elitist.

Joan NE said...

I have to suspend my contributions for at least 24 hours - my kids are mad with me for spending so much of this beautiful day at the computer. I am sorry for leaving several questions unanswered! It maybe more than 36 hours before I will be back...

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dora, are you trying to get people to enroll in NOVA? I'm confused about this plethora of information on NOVA because I'm not sure what the link is in the thread.

"What do you know or have access to that the rest of us don't?"

It may be me but I don't think that is a particularly good tone to use to ask a question. It seems to imply that someone has insider information when all that person (Sully) did was look it up at the SPS website.

These are issues that we all agree are important and so there is passion to our discussion but please, don't make assumptions.

"My friend's daughter complained in summer of 09that MGJ was requiring the school to eliminate popular language arts electives. This has been done."

No, it hasn't. Popular language arts electives aren't gone because my son is taking one right now. What will likely happen is that some may go away in the future. We have a very skilled and very determined LA department that is going to do its best to maintain some of the best of our electives.

"From this my IMPRESSION is that Roosevelt has changed significantly recently."

You are taking the words of one student and extrapolating them to mean the above?

I'm a parent of a senior at RHS and the former PTSA co-president. Even I wouldn't take my own son's words as gospel and as what is "happening" at RHS.

And again, words have meaning. So don't say you know something if you don't. If you do know something, say where you read it, heard it or base it on. If it's your opinion, say so but please don't state something you heard as fact if, in fact, you don't know it to be so.

owlhouse said...

This thread raises a question I often wrestle with. What is the purpose of school? Really, I don't think we've (locally or nationally) identified the purpose of school in any sort of comprehensive manor.

Is "Excellence for All" the mission? "Career and College Ready"? "Everyone Achieving, Everyone Accountable"?

I'd suggest that RTTT, school turn around plans, teacher effectiveness evaluations, quality school definitions, curriculum selection, program placements... are bound to be flawed with out better defining the purpose of public education.

There is generally agreement that academics are essential. But citizenship, arts, humanities, sports, life skills, trade skills... sometimes yes, sometimes no. And even "academic" teaching and learning has different meanings and measures. And what of the societal need for child care? For understanding of participatory democracy? For cultural relevance and representation? For life long learning opportunities?

I'm increasingly concerned that we can't address the challenges in public education without a massive reevaluation of the purpose of school.

For me, the state has an interest in raising citizens- capable and competent with diverse skill sets and knowledge bases. I don't think it's a pie-in-the-sky vision. I think it's essential that we stop playing the school/student/teacher competition game, and rethink our responsibilities to and opportunities for our youth. Not to be too grandiose, but it's our future.

Dora Taylor said...

Melissa,

I was responding to Sully's comment about Nova not having AP classes or sports when in fact they have both.

There appears to be a lack of knowledge or understanding about the Nova program or the other alternative school programs so I was just filling in the gap a bit.

And about my "tone", I was just curious about the source of that information. We all seem to be doing that on this thread so why can't I ask the question?

I didn't know that it was available on the SPS website and that's all Sully had to say.

Melissa Westbrook said...

This:

"What do you know or have access to that the rest of us don't?"

versus

Oh, where did you find that information?"

I rest my case.

Dora Taylor said...

Sully,

Let me reiterate what I said earlier.

Someone said that our educational system is off-track, basically, and we have to do something about it.

I responded by saying that we already have successful models of education here in Seattle, the alternative schools being an example of that. Therefore, we don't need to slash and burn what we already have because we can create successful schools based on that model of the alternative schools that have proven to be successful for the last twenty years, that there is no reason to reinvent the wheel of education.

When I moved to Seattle I was greatly impressed by the range of educational experiences that a student could have. There is a Home School Resource Center to support students and their families, alternative schools, APP and other programs that I was not aware of when we first arrived.

Then, when I heard that education reform was headed in our direction, I wondered why on earth did we need to create charter schools when we have such a great diversity already?

And that is still my point. Yes, one size does not fit all which makes what we have in place a great system. Every student has the opportunity to succeed.

I said that Nova could be a MODEL. I am not suggesting rubber stamping Nova all over the map of Seattle. What I am saying is that the teachers at Nova, what they do that has created a successful program, can be studied and applied elsewhere. I was not thinking about sports, I was considering the basic subjects of art (this one might not be for you but it is for me being an architect), languages, English,math and the sciences.

If you want a football team, great, but that was not my focus in our conversation.

Dora Taylor said...

owlhouse,

I also have the same questions about our schools.

We seem to expect them to take on the ills of society as well as educate our children and yet with no additional financial support.

We want all of our youth to be educated when some of them come to school hungry, maybe abused, sick but with no medical coverage, (fortunately in our state children are provided with free medical care), or distracted in some other way.

At the same time, teachers are asked to take on larger classes and somehow close the "achievement gap".

Yes, we do need to have a national conversation about the expectations of our schools. We have tagged on more and more responsibilities for our schools to handle without officially stating what they are required to provide. It has become an unspoken contract that we have with our schools. Our educational system in that sense is in overload.

And, this is something that is not address with RTTT and it was not addressed with NCLB.

If it hasn't been raised to McGinn yet, this would be a good opportunity to meet with him, the last meeting is this Monday at Garfield, and start that conversation.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

As much as I love all of Seattle's current alternative schools, I don't see many of them that do a lot for the struggling, at-risk student (perhaps South Shore). The African-American Academy (certainly an alternative by Seattle's standards) was not successful, nor was the three-academy system (not really an alternative, but definitely not the norm) tried at Cleveland.

Part of the problem could be that existing alternatives of every stripe in this city are self-selected, weeding out many of the kids who come from dysfunctional families (I know, I know, I'll bet there's a few at each school, but they're not the norm). I'm not just talking about poverty, but those kids who have a parent in jail, or not in jail but headed there; those kids whose parents are new immigrants and barely speak English and unable to navigate the "choice" system; those kids whose parents place little to no value on education, etc.

We do have the re-entry schools (considered alternative by most of the nation) for those students who got sidetracked in their quest for education, and SBOC for those who came from countries where school was not an option. But we don't have schools for those kids who need a leg up to be on par with the kids who come from stable households that value education and have the resources in both time and money to make it happen.

To me, that is the major issue. What can we do as a city, to create programs that truly help those kids. Personally, I don't believe that throwing a bunch of high performing kids into a school with be the rising tide that floats all boats. But, having a committed staff and parents that fights for a program like Garfield's "Read Right" is certainly one answer.

Pretending that all kids are on the same page or that a teacher can easily differentiate to reach each child at their own level is absurd. Until we come up with a solution that works for Seattle's sensibilities, people will be pushing for charters, despite our wonderful alternative schools.

seattle citizen said...

Solvay says
"But we don't have schools for those kids who need a leg up to be on par with the kids who come from stable households that value education and have the resources in both time and money to make it happen."
This is the rub, for me: What IS a school that helps kids get a leg up? What would that kid NOT get while adults are busy trying to "bring them up to level"?
From what I've seen (and this is just my own survey, don't yell at me!) many of the schools that help students who might come from tough home or community backgrounds MERELT focus on some basics. Now, of course kids need basics. But is it okay to define these things ("basics") and then just teach those to some kids? While they are becoming proficient in, say, Math at some charter school or "restructured" school, the other students, the ones with supportive parents, enrichment etc etc etc, are cruising along through interesting, deep, and
thought-provoking "advanced" materials. Is it okay to NOT teach deep understanding of history? To NOT have access to fine arts?
I guess my question is, why can't we address students as individuals (or more so - of course, efficiencies won't allow that completely) and KEEP them in "regular" schools? If we don't, ew risk an aparteid, a re-segregation, a situation where the haes get more and the have-nots get what we give 'em, which, as far as I can tell, is drill-and-kill.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Seattle Citizen...I wasn't advocating so much for "schools" for these kids. Just pointing out that our alternatives aren't in the business of bridging the achievement gap. Consequently, some people are pushing for charters. The reality is that most of the middle & upper class kids in Seattle are at least passing the standardized tests (let's not get started on a rich, nuturing and varied education—that's why I sacrifice to put my child in private high school).

IMHO, edu-reform is not about creating a superlative brand of education that enriches and nurtures all kinds of kids. It's about getting kids to pass tests on the basics so the powers that be can say they have "educated" the kids. I think most of us would agree that the basics are not enough.

I'm much more for advocating programs like Garfield's "Read-Right" to help bring struggling kids from all sorts of backgrounds up to speed. (I have a middle-class friend whose son went through it his freshman year with great success.)

Again just making the point that Seattle's model of alternative schools cannot compete with the model that wants charters like Kipp to whip kids into shape.

And I agree, kids need to be addressed as individuals, which is why the NSAP is to me a disaster. As long as Seattle has a variety of offerings and a smattering of exceptional programs from school to school, in theory, children should be able to access the one that best suits their needs and talents.

Neighborhood elementaries are fine, as long as there are some option programs like Montessori, Language Immersion, TOPS, etc. that are available on a lottery basis and NOT by address. But by middle and high school, students should have access to those special/superlative programs (Bio-tech, award-winning arts programs, etc.) on a city-wide basis.

ttln said...

A few things to keep in mind:

FRL is an opt-in program. Patents fill out a form an apply for federal assistance. Which means that there are students who may qualify but aren't part of the statistic because the form was not submitted (because their parents submit the form, not the students themselves- so how does a kid who has been kicked out of the house get this designation?), or they have parents who are too proud to declare their need for assistance (common among white-low income demographic). The FRL numbers can be misleading.

Historically, Nova has had a partnership with Garfield where kids who wanted to play sports or do music or take latin, etc. could take those courses at Garfield. Since the move, I don't know where this stands now. (It may have been unofficially disolved before the move, but I don't know for sure,... my source only relays the "frustration of the minute"- if it is not on his radar, I don't hear about it.)Be that as it may, I am under the impression that kids can participate in programs not available at Nova at their neighborhood HSs as well. Just because it isn't at that particular building doesn't mean that a student won't have access. They just won't have traditional access.

Nova is a special place. Not for everyone, to be sure. Not for every kid, not for every teacher. But it deserves its props for what it does achieve. I don't know if they have ever looked at the data of the students who enroll in 9th grade to see where they are when they enter and when they leave. I don't know if they ever would consider doing the data work- they hate the WASL/MSP or whatever it is now, they also are vehemently against MAPs. However, as a data junkie myself, I would be interested, just to see.

old salt said...

I wonder about the Rainier Scholars model where kids get a lot of extra hours of academics, summer, weekends, after school until they are caught up. But they are in regular school during school hours. (I think that is how it works.)

What about summer school? I thought summer school was part of SPS plan for remedial academics.

Often middle class families will hire tutors or get outside help from Kumon or get online help for their struggling kids, send their kids to summer camp, art or music lessons, or teach things at home.

I have a child who is highly gifted and learning disabled. I make up the difference on both ends of the academic spectrum where SPS doesn't address the issues.

How are struggling families suppose to make up that difference? How can the school make up that difference when every one in the class gets the same experience? I don't believe that standardizing curriculum or training teachers is going to close that gap.

SolvayGirl1972 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SolvayGirl1972 said...

Rainier Scholars isn't about helping kids catch up. It's for highly-capable kids of color who could use more rigor than what they would normally get in one of the southend middle schools (it's between the end of 5th and beginning of 7th grades). There is a fairly rigorous application process, and the kids I know who have been through it say it is harder than any other work they had prior and, in some cases, after. Many Rainier Scholars transfer to private schools for 7th grades—usually with full scholarships.

old salt said...

Solvaygirl,

Yes I understand what Rainier Scholars does. Those kids catch- up with other advanced learners who have had the rigor all along. It is a lot of work to make such academic progress over a shorter period of time, even for very bright kids.

So is that what it would take for kids who are behind academically (but equally capable) to catch-up with kids who are at or above standard?

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Old Salt...It might be, but I know that Rainier Scholars kids have to have a lot of parental buy-in for all the summer and weekend work and time. These kids are motivated to achieve and are eager to get the extra work because they recognize that achievement will bring rewards (as I said, many go on to the best private schools in the city). I don't know how such a rigorous program would fly with kids who aren't that motivated in school to begin with.

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

I believe that the The Rainier Scholars program would only work as it is - as an opt in/voluntary program.

My son who is more than capable, but not highly motivated, was invited to join the scholars back in 4th (or 5th?) grade. Though he could easily do the work, and the benefit would have been tremendous (scholarship to private high school, and likely full scholarship to a private college or state University, regardless of our income), he was not motivated to do all of the extra work required which included going to Rainier Scholars and doing academic work every day after school, on weekends,and all summer long. It's a huge commitment, and a lot to ask of kids that are already working above grade level (which is who the Rainier Scholars targets).

It's also a long commitment. Kids join the program in elementary school and remain in the program through middle school, with continued (but less frequent) work through high school.

You have to be a very motivated kid to commit to that.

Also, it is not a program meant to serve under achievers or the unmotivated. Rather, it is a program that serves highly motivated, kids of color, that are already **over** achieving. And it serves ALL income levels, it's not a low income program.

I agree with Old Salt in that we have to find something that helps under achieving, unmotivated students. I just don't see Rainier Scholars being a program that would work in this case.

Sully said...

From the Rainier Scholars website (so you have an idea of the commitment that is required of each student)

"Grade Six: Academic Enrichment-
Rigorous and intensive, this initial, 14-month phase of the program immerses students in the subject matter they must master to thrive in college-preparatory programs. Scholars attend the equivalent of 120 additional days of school and complete more than 500 additional hours of homework.

The summer before their sixth-grade year, a “cohort” of 60 scholars meets five days a week, eight hours a day, for six weeks. Their curriculum includes literature, writing, history, math, science and personal ethics. Daily homework, development of time-management and organizational skills, mentoring by older Rainier Scholars students and guided reflection on what it means to be a high-achieving student of color are all critical building blocks.

When school begins the following fall, students attend their regular schools and also attend Rainier Scholars classes every Wednesday after school and all day on Saturdays. Throughout the 6th grade year, students and families participate in the “placement process” in which they seek admission to either an independent college preparatory school or to one of Seattle Public Schools’ advanced learning programs. Once students and schools are matched for 7th grade, a second intensive academic summer session follows, one in which students continue to focus on core academic skills as well as exploring the acculturation process for entering their new school environments. The 14-month academic phase culminates in a Rites of Passage ceremony in which students “become a Rainier Scholar” before beginning their 7th grade year at top schools throughout the Puget sound region.

And, that's just 6th grade!

Joan NE said...

"Quality School"

Here is recently prepared and released SPS definition of "Quality School." [March 2010.]

I'd love to hear people's opinion on this. Is there a need or no need for an alternative definition of "Quality School." and an alternative definition of "Accountability" to the one implied here and in the perf. mgt. policy and related policies (Instructional Philosphy, Assessment, the latter to be voted on by Board on April 7)? Do Parents like this?

I cannot yet find it on the school district's website.

[Title:] SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT IN SEATTLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS:

MAKING EVERY SCHOOL A HIGH QUALITY SCHOOL

OVERVIEW

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is committed to ensuring that every school is an excellent school which offers our students high quality instruction, strong leadership, and excellent instructional materials. A school performance framework guides how we provide supports and interventions to individual schools. This includes:

Ø Clear performance goals

Ø Measurement tools & transparency of progress

Ø Supports and interventions based on performance, with a focus on leadership, instruction, materials and programs, and use of time
The district’s goals are defined and tracked in an annual district scorecard. Beginning this fall, a similar tool called school reports will be shared at the individual school level.

DETAIL

·District-level Improvement: In November 2009, the district scorecard was released showing how our students are performing on a range of indicators – from test scores to graduation rates. SPS is also defining and measuring key operational metrics that show how district services like transportation, maintenance and nutrition services directly support our schools.

School-level Improvement: School reports are annual snapshots of individual school performance on the same academic measures that are on the district scorecard. To track student progress throughout the year, schools are using Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments, which provide teachers, principals and students with real-time information on math and reading performance. The district is using school performance data to group schools based on how much growth they are making year-to-year and how they are performing overall. These groupings allow the district to provide differentiated responses – specific, predictable interventions, supports and recognition for schools based on their performance and need.

Individual/Staff-level Improvement: Finally, new individual performance evaluations were rolled out to many central office employee groups, and additional support for evaluating school-based staff is also being provided.

This approach means that support, resources and interventions are being provided to schools based on actual performance and need. School performance and growth trends will be widely shared – schools and their communities will understand what is working well, what areas need more support and what the district is prepared to do in response. Schools needing the most support will receive it; schools that are excelling for all students will be recognized. Annually the district will report on performance at every school, and the public will be able to clearly track school and district progress.

[JNE notes: The perf. mgt. policy gives the Superintendent freedom to replace all of part of staff of, replace principal of, close, or "reconstitute" a school that has failed to make AYP for three years running. These are some of the "interventions" that the Quality Schools document refers to.]

SEVEN AREAS OF A HIGH QUALITY SCHOOL

Joan NE said...

[SPS definition of "Quality School," March 2010; continued]

SEVEN AREAS OF A HIGH QUALITY SCHOOL

Seattle Public Schools believes that to improve student performance, we must address seven important areas that help students learn. All schools will develop Continuous School Improvement Plans that include specific tactics to support each of the seven areas. The Plans will also set student goals for improving student achievement and tracking student progress throughout the school year. These plans will be made available to the public. While the district will support academic improvement at all schools, special focus will be given to support and direct the work of struggling schools to improve student achievement.


1.Effective Teaching

· Recruit teachers with the skills and experience needed to transform a school

·Require training for teachers on how tailor teaching to specific student needs

·Provide instructional coaching for teachers

·Use curricular materials and tests aligned to state standards

·Use common assessments to track student learning on a daily and weekly basis

2. Effective School Leadership

· Recruit principals who have shown improved student achievement

· Focus principal time on helping teachers by visiting classrooms, leading teacher training and working with instructional coaches

· Provide on-site support for day-to-day management of the school

3. More School Time for Students & Teachers

·Give struggling students more learning time within the school day, before school, or after school

·Provide time for teachers to meet regularly in teams for focused learning time

4. Professional Opportunities and Recognition for Teachers

· Effectively evaluate teachers on their teaching practices and on how much students learn, based on clearly defined measures

· Provide promotional opportunities for teachers excelling in their practice

· Recognize whole-school progress of student learning

5.Culture to Support Teaching and Learning

· Develop a shared set of beliefs and high expectations for students and staff

· Define clear student achievement goals understood by all staff, students, and parents

· Set explicit school-wide behavioral policies and frequent use of discipline and attendance data to support students

6. Engaged Families and Community

· Family Engagement Action Teams in place at every school to involve families in their children’s education

· Involve families in regular celebrations of student learning

· Communicate with families through The Source, weekly classroom newsletters and monthly whole-school newsletters from principals to families

7. Arts Opportunities

· Provide instrumental music instruction in 4th and 5th grade

· Train teachers on visual arts curriculum

· Communicate with families on arts education through arts e-newsletter

HOW SPS IS SUPPORTING THE SEVEN AREAS OF A QUALITY SCHOOL

1. Effective Teaching

Ø Training principals on how to lead Professional Learning Communities of teachers to study and take action on student data

Ø Using Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) data to teachers to track what students are learning during the school year

Ø Textual materials aligned to state standards in math, and training on how to use the materials

Ø Mentoring for new teachers

Ø Instructional coaching for teachers

Ø High-Leverage Teaching Moves - eight research-based strategies shown to encourage high-level thinking and problem-solving - across all content areas

2.Effective School Leadership

Ø Superintendent’s Initiative for Leadership Development training for principals

Ø Professional Learning Communities of principals led by the Center for Educational Leadership, University of Washington

3.More School Time for Students & Teachers

Ø Extra learning time for students in struggling schools

4.Professional Opportunities and Recognition for Teachers

Joan NE said...

[SPS definition of "Quality School," part 3]

4.Professional Opportunities and Recognition for Teachers

Ø Consistent Professional Development Plan for all teachers outlining a continuum of learning across the district

Ø Required, paid training for all teachers

Ø Opportunities for elementary math teachers to become Teacher Leaders

Ø Opportunities for advancement for teachers in School Improvement Grant schools (to be negotiated with Seattle Education Association)

5.Culture to Support Teaching and Learning

Ø New Continuous School Improvement Plan tool for schools to set measurable goals and track progress on student achievement

Ø Weekly attendance tracking reports for principals to monitor and take action on student absences

6. Engaged Families and Community

Ø Family Engagement Action Teams supported by central office and principals

7. Arts Opportunities

Ø Work with funders and arts organizations to build on successful after-school arts programs

Ø Train teachers on how to integrate arts and literacy instruction

Ø Increase students’ access to arts education through community partnerships

Ø Expand current partnerships to bring arts professionals into the classroom to connect with planned curricular units

Joan NE said...

Quality Schools. Toward a constructive definition.

Olga Addae (president, SEA = Seattle Education Association = dominant Seattle Teachers' Union) wrote this in an SEA newsletter.

"...In the sixty’s, the nation
commissioned a study called the Coleman report. At the time, it was the largest study commissioned to answer the question. The Coleman report determined that the leading factor to determine a student’s success in school was where the school was located. For example in schools located in high poverty areas, the students had a low rate of success. ESEA, which followed soon after, determined that the students in these schools came to school with a cultural deficit. In other words, home life was significantly different then school life and the students needed extra assistance to help them succeed. Thus Title 1 monies were directed at schools.

This is a “student as deficit model” approach to addressing the achievement gaps issue. Well, forty years later the model has shifted, but not much. There are also school factors that affect the academic achievement
gap of students:

• Class size
• Rigor of the curriculum
• Teacher Quality;
• Teacher preparation
• Teacher experience
• Teacher absence and turnover
• Culturally relevant teaching practices
• Student fear and safety at school
• Technology in the classroom

Most of these factors focus on the education system as a whole, legislated by the state and determined by school boards. But the education reform debate focuses on one factor: Teacher Quality. No doubt a quality teacher is an important ingredient to a quality teaching environment which includes the other factors.

So, it seems the only thing that has changed in the past forty years is the model. At the national and state level, the new approach seems to be a teacher as deficit model.

It is time to change the model. Instead of accepting any “deficit” model, the public should hear what educators say are supports needed to close the “Gaps”. Here are suggestions from your Association Representatives at the October Representative Assembly.

School Support: (In no particular order)

Joan NE said...

[continued] Article by Olga Addae

School Support: (In no particular order)

• Work with disruptive students instead of excluding from class
• Home visits
• Significant interventions for failing/struggling students
• Range of options for discipline problems
• Students with special needs have to have ways to move in and out of inclusion according to their behavior
• Extra personnel for special needs students
• Cultural competence
• Title one should be based on percent rather than a threshold cut-off
• Co-teaching
• More movement for K-5 – use brain research
• Multiple arenas for students to show excellence
• Change the situation with respect to disproportionally
in funding of extra support, classes, even teachers (dollars raised by PTA’s, etc.)
• Give new programs time to succeed
• Observe colleagues work (release time)
• Up math requirements
• Up pay for teachers
• Tutoring of students not meeting standard
• Dollars for field trips – enrichments activities
• Dollars for students who can’t afford equipment (TI-83 Calculators, planners, etc)
• Help in classrooms (more IA’s)
Outside School Support:
• More parent involvement in their children’s education
• Parent support of what goes on in the classroom on a daily basis
• Kids need to see that their parents value what their children are learning in school
• Getting families involved – support parents to
become better educators at home
• Hold parents accountable too
• Before and after school programs funded and structurally sound
• General education – get the parents involved
• Academies for the parent

And finally, the most crucial;

More Funding!

Educators have ideas. The question remains; is anyone listening? Is the public ready to pay the cost of true support to educate all children?

The SEA remains committed to hear your ideas, if you have not had a school visit by SEA Governance
or Staff, please speak to your AR to set up a meeting.
Thank you for all you do on behalf of all the students in Seattle Public Schools.

Source: http://www.seattlewea.org/static_content/unity2003.pdf

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