Friday, August 20, 2010

New Report by the NCTQ

The National Council on Teacher Quality, an Ed Reform organization posing as a think tank, has issued another report on Seattle. This one explores the proposals discussed in the negotiations over the teachers' contract.

I have reviewed their report and found it to be a mixed bag.

I agree with the District and the NCTQ regarding teacher assignment.
I, too, would like to see principals have more authority to determine who works in their schools. I support the District proposal to eliminate super-seniority privileges and the forced placement of any teacher in any school. I also support mutual consent hiring for all teachers regardless of the reason a teacher is transferring schools or when the position is being filled. Under such a system, excessed teachers would be able to remain in the displaced pool for a limited amount of time while they search for a new position: 12 months for teachers on a continuing contract; 6 months for teachers on a provisional contract. After this period, they would be subject to layoffs. If teachers cannot find a principal in the District willing to hire them, then they don't work here anymore.

I question the career-ladder positions proposed by the District.
I don't oppose them or approve them. I just wonder if the teachers want them. I think it strange to create incentives for people without knowing if the people are interested in the incentives you're offering or if the incentives are enough to change anyone's behavior. I also wonder why the unrelated proposal about career-ladder positions is lumped in with the teacher assignment proposal.

The NCTQ's analysis of these proposals is both good and bad. I agree with them when they write: "Giving principals full autonomy to select who works in their buildings, as Seattle Public Schools proposes to do, is a critical first step towards school accountability." However, their belief that a mutual consent policy would reduce turnover and the concentration of inexperienced teachers and that senior teachers would be less likely to cluster into a few favored schools is dead wrong. Instead, the turnover and concentration of inexperienced teachers would occur at schools with principals who mishandle their teaching staff, and all-star principals will be able to assemble all-star teams of teachers at their schools. The clustering will still happen - at both ends of the spectrum - but the cluster points will be based on the principal's favor with teachers instead of school affluence and the movement will be divided by teacher quality instead of teacher seniority.

Look, the teachers know who the good principals are and that's who they will want to work with. The principals know who the good teachers are and that's who they will want to work with. So the good principals will be able to hire the good teachers and the bad principals and the new (or bad) teachers will have to settle for working with each other. If the pay were the same, would you rather work for an angel or an asshole? If you had free pick, would you choose to work with those who have proven themselves to be the best, those who have proven mediocre, or the unproven?

We can guess what it means when a teacher can't find a principal who will hire them. What will it mean when a principal can't find an experienced teacher who will work for them? Where is the market-driven force that will hold principals accountable?

The NCTQ shows an equal ignorance of human behavior when they presume, without evidence, that financial incentives will attract highly effective teachers to the neediest schools, and that top teachers would be motivated to seek assignments district-wide. There is scant evidence to show that small financial incentives will motivate teachers to accept less attractive working conditions. Has anyone asked the teachers? The union is characterized as silent on the issue.

I have qualified agreement with the NCTQ and the District that layoffs should be based on a combination of seriority and performance. I just need a lot more detail about how the District proposes to assess teacher performance. I can't give the proposal my support until I see that the details are good.

The NCTQ has no question about how the District will assess teacher quality. That makes the NCTQ questionable.

The union's position is not stated.

Like the SEA, I support the District's proposal to expand the teacher mentor program.
I'm a little discouraged that the number of mentor teachers is going to increase from 6 to 11. That seems a very low number.

I'm curious about how the District is going to create additional planning time for teachers without reducing instructional time for students. That doesn't seem possible. I would really like someone to walk me through the math on that.

The union appears to accept the additional planning and collaboration time, but wants more of the sessions to be teacher-directed instead of District- or principal-directed. Surely the District can bend on this.

The NCTQ says that the SEA opposes the proposal "because it will result in 12 additional minutes of teaching time on the days when there are not the collaborative planning blocks." I'm always very careful about assigning motivations to others. How does the NCTQ know that this is the reason why the SEA opposes this proposal? I'd like to see where the SEA gives this as the reason. If this is, in fact, the reason, then maybe the District should walk them through the math on how the additional planning time doesn't impact the instructional time.

The NCTQ is also concerned that Seattle students have some of the shortest instructional days and years in the country. This goes to the debate between the value of instructional time and the blithe dismissal of "seat time". The District itself is ambivalent over it.

I am deeply troubled by the NCTQ's review of the proposals on teacher evaluations.
The NCTQ describes SERVE as the District's proposal and then writes "SEA proposes to keep the current evaluation instrument as it is" I believe this is not true. I believe that the SEA has proposed the adoption of the P G and E teacher evaluation. What is the truth here?

For what it is worth, most of the teacher evaluation elements of SERVE are the same as P G and E. The primary difference is the use of student test scores. Since there has been no detailed description of what student test scores would be used or how they would be used, there really isn't a proposal to review here. SERVE has other provisions, such as the superintendent's right to over-ride any evaluation without appeal, that are simply unacceptable. The NCTQ didn't seem to notice that little feature of SERVE because they don't mention it.

I take the union's side regarding the teacher compensation proposals.
The District is offerring a 1 percent pay raise for the teachers who opt in to SERVE. This strikes me as little incentive and a very small compensation for accepting a mystery bag. Here also is a repeat of the career-ladder positions that the District proposes. Given that the SEA rejects the proposal, it appears to me that the teachers don't want this incentive. And what is the use of an incentive that people don't want? I like the fact that the SEA is rejecting offers of more money.

The NCTQ likes the idea of recognizing and rewarding great teachers, but even they agree that the District's offer is punk.

In their final thoughts, the NCTQ makes reference to teacher quality. I will understand this paragraph better when I know how the NCTQ defines that term and how the NCTQ believes that contract provisions can impact it.

35 comments:

seattle citizen said...

Haven't read your whole piece, yet, Charlie, and haven't linked to the NCTQ doc, but this caught my eye:

You write that "If teachers cannot find a principal in the District willing to hire them, then they don't work here anymore."

Do you support principals and APs (and without BLT consultation, as that function seems to be on the wane) making turning down teachers because they are not "on board" with what appears to be a tidal wave of pedagogic and economic upheaval in the teacher profession? If many or most of bldg administrators are "under the thumb" (an extreme example, granted, but feasible) of central amd board dictates which follow radically reformist directions, do you still support that idea that teacher's just "don't work here anymore" if they don't suit a centralized vision of reform?

WV advises me to requit my whining; the first attempt failed.

Seattle-Ed2010 said...

NCTQ is a DC-based enterprise with political connections that supports lowering credentials for teachers. It is neither "independent" nor "objective." We should not be guided by what this outside operation says about our teachers.

Note that many of those who support "SERVE" ("Our Schools Coalition," Alliance for Education, Broad Foundation types etc.) also support bringing "Teach for America" recruits to Seattle -- unqualified, non-union young graduates who are only expected to stay in the field for 2-3 years before moving on to their "real" professions (or else they join the ever-metastasizing education bureaucracy).

(TFA founder Wendy Kopp sits on the board of the Broad Foundation alongside our own Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson.)

Is this what we want for Seattle?

See: http://www.lawrencebaines.com/box.html
Chapter 7
The Teachers We Need Vs. the Teachers We Have

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) is another organization that promotes alternative certification while attempting to masquerade as an objective, research-focused agency. The similarity of the name of the National Council on Teacher Quality to the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) is no coincidence.

Whereas NCATE advocates rigorous standards for teachers, including a full-semester or longer of student teaching and challenging and relevant course work, NCTQ advocates a student teaching experience of a few weeks and limited course work. Unsurprisingly, the president of NCTQ is an alternatively certified teacher who started the first alternative certification program in Maryland. Chester Finn, who sits on the board of directors of the NCTQ also happens to be the President of ABCTE.
Thus, two organizations (NCEI and NCTQ) who provide the federal government and state agencies with data on alternative certification are also dependent upon the continuing proliferation of alternative certification for their survival. Given this reality, it seems unlikely that either NCEI or NCTQ will ever have anything negative to say about alternative certification.

Let’s review the facts. The Chief Executive Officer of a business that provides alternative certification for a fee (Chester Finn, of ABCTE) is on the board of directors of the organization that provides the reports (NCTQ) that promote the benefits of alternative certification. Not only has the federal government failed to launch an independent evaluation of teacher quality, it has relied upon NCEI and NCTQ to provide data about the quantity and quality of alternatively-certified teachers.
When a wolf is appointed to guard the sheep, one must expect that casualties will be heavy. As teacher certification across the United States has gotten easier, quicker, and more profitable for the wolves, the sheep have started disappearing.
Eventually, one would hope that the rationale upon which the alternative certification business empire has been built—that unprepared, inexperienced students with poor academic records are somehow superior to well-prepared, experienced teachers with stellar academic records—will not stand. However, this is precisely the logic that has molded teacher preparation policy in the United States since the late twentieth century.


-- CONTINUED --

Seattle-Ed2010 said...

-- CONTINUED --

American children deserve more. They deserve teachers with specialized training in teaching specific content to a particular age group. They deserve to have teachers with diverse, extended experiences with teaching real children. They deserve teachers who will be mentored in their early years by expert teachers and Ph.D.s who understand what it takes to be an effective teacher. They deserve intelligent, creative, empathetic teachers who can help them love as well as learn the material.

In the United States, it takes 5-6 years of work and study to be able to handle pipes and 5-8 years of work and study to be able to handle dead bodies. But, it only takes 5 weeks, sometimes less, to become a teacher of children.

5-6 years for pipes.
5-8 years for the dead.
5 weeks for children.

It is inconceivable that a country that has prided itself on equality and opportunity has relinquished control over the education of its children to unskilled, untrained strangers. At the beginning of the 21st century, it is to our shame that the education of our children has come to mean so little. -- Lawrence Baines


-- sue p.

seattle citizen said...

These are the last two sentences of the NCTQ report, summing up their concluding paragraph:

Overall, Seattle's proposals for the new teacher labor agreement are strong. Enacting them would put Seattle on the forefront of reforms and make it a national model for improving teacher quality.

Yea! Forefront of reforms AND a national model for improving teacher quality! (the model evidently being one that standardizes and measures both teachers and students through one of a variety of types of standardized tests. Formative, summative, benchmarking....whatever! Give us a number and rate those kids and their teachers!

bah. Reform, schmeeform.

Charlie Mas said...

I try not to discredit an idea based on whose idea it is.

I don't like the NCTQ. I don't agree with their purposes. Just the same, I'm not going to disagree with them if they claim that the sun rises in the East.

This is part and parcel with the discussion earlier this week about a civil discussion. I will consider the potential that those with whom I disagree are right about some things.

If we are going to hold principals accountable, and I think we should, then we are going to have to allow them more authority to go along with that responsibility. In this case, it is the authority to assemble their own team.

To seattle citizen's question, if a principal wants to assemble a team of teachers who will fall into line with fidelity of implementation, then that's what they should be allowed to do. And if a principal wants to assemble a team of creative, innovative teachers capable of improvisation and responding to the academic needs of individual students, then that's what that principal should be allowed to do.

My concern is not that, under pressure from the central administration, principals will boycott hiring teachers who do not align with central administration edicts, but that when really great principals - and teachers know who they are - have a job opening, they will get lots of resumes from all of the best teachers and will, therefore, cluster the best teachers to their schools. On the other hand, when principals who are petty tyrants - and teachers know who they are - have job openings, they will not get many (or any) resumes at all.

Teachers get paid the same wherever they work, so they shop for (and compete for) the best working conditions. The school principal is a primary element of the working conditions for the teachers.

If a teacher is good, there are plenty of principals who will want that teacher on their team - regardless of the teacher's conformity with the current pedagogical fad being pushed by the central administration.

As I wrote, I'm not worried that good teachers won't find a principal who will take them on. I'm more worried that the District won't hold a principal accountable for being unable to attract a team. I'm also a bit concerned that the good teachers won't be distributed very evenly because they will cluster around the good principals. The students who are so unlucky as to have a bad principal have it bad enough thanks to that alone. But they will also be saddled with the teachers who couldn't find positions anywhere else, with inexperienced teachers, and with a lot of teacher turnover.

wseadawg said...

SC, you nailed it right out of the gate. There's too much foot-in-the-door/foot-on-the-path of reform for me in these proposals. Give a tyrant an inch, she'll take a mile, or ten, or a hundred.

That's something people don't understand about unions and collective bargaining in general. Some things aren't ever on the table, because once you open them up, they get eaten away, year after year, contract after contract, until the contractual right is nothing more than an illusion. Boeing's unions have become so weak the company can fire practically anyone at will. Same with many other unions. All because union leaders and members trusted management or bought into their lies and charades, opening the door for the real ulterior motives.

It will happen here too if we start agreeing Obama-style with entities like the NCTQ who do not, DO NOT, have our kids best interests at heart. They are all about union busting, and nearly everything they propose requires dramatic change and upheaval in the teaching profession. How does their support for continuity and collaboration crushing proposals translate into confidence that they actually care about teachers?

The principals in Seattle are already under MGJ's thumb, and won't say boo without fearing her wrath. SC is right. What's to stop them from being nothing but messengers carrying MGJ's messages and methods, from the string-pulling reformers back East.

Nobody will hire the radioactive whistle-blower or critic if it is likely to offend MGJ. And it will.

Jaded? You bet your arses I am. I don't trust NCTQ because they are a phony, self-anointed "National Council" of misleading, arrogant, cocky, inexperienced organization who gleefully meddle with districts in which they have no skin in the game, but carry forth the NCLB agenda of busting unions and laying everything at the feet of teachers.

seattle citizen said...

Charlie, your train of accountability goes from the teacher, to principal to supt to board to citizens. If citizens and board are mum, then supt is left to demand whatever from her principals, and they, in turn, will demand that same whatever from teachers.

It is fine for principals to demand a sort of team or direction; principals SHOULD have the autonomy to direct their staffs. But if there are no checks conducted by board or citizens on what emerges from that, then we might have a bunch of principals all demanding teaching to the test this year under this supt, while in three years we'll have principals demanding teaching to THAT test, or to some wafty other set of standards.
The old model had principals as leaders, with BLTs in advisory capacity, and teachers did unique and different things. The new model seems to be cookie cutter. If "old-guard" teachers are displaced (easy to do: close the program) and if principals won't hire them across the district because they fear the wrath of an unaccountable supt, the whole district could be swept clean of any of those old creative types and replaced with a nice malleable crowd of young-uns eager for work, even if it is as a factory-model cog in a standardized machine.

I like that there is some protection against wholesale sweeping away of staff who might not be "with the program." It keeps schools dynamic, with a variety of "types" of teachers.

kprugman said...

This is the sort of conversation that grabs the people on the cusp of reform. The public is receptive to one idea, but blinks at another.

The NCTQ gets advertised as a research institute in order to appear unbiased, when in fact it is not.

Its not a coincidence that they chose to publish an 'unbiased' opinion about Seattle Schools and the SEA. Their opinions are supportive of MGJ and her staff.

So when yours truly blinks and says - gee, sounds reasonable -everyone is sort of going, what happenned to the problem that you were complaining about. MGJ doesn't have to have a tantrum and everyone stays unhappy.

Sounds to me like more chaos and entropy are at work here.

If you want to win, you go for the throat and you don't let go. Lose often; but win big.



Your laws don't work and your leaders aren't following their own procedures. If your recall fails, I suspect the district stands to lose more than a few students. Teachers don't rollover - they pack up and leave.

Teachermom said...

When NCTQ (in "Human Capital in Seattle Public Schools") made the stunning observation that elementary teachers take more sick days than high school teachers, they lost much of their credibility with me.

I agree with Charlie - the principals are really the bottom line in a school. I have seen a school with very effective teachers implode with a harmful principal.

seattle citizen said...

Principals ARE ther bottom line, and who do we want directing them? Without checks and balances on policy and procedure by specifically the board and generally the citizens whose system it is, the principal corps must follow just the whims and vagaries of one person, who may be gone in a year or two. So during that time, without protections, whole swaths of educators can be swept aside (or quit) to be replaced with....what?

Who will teach in that sort of scenario? People who are willing to work to reduce education to standardized tests and standardized curriculum. Of course there are many levels of this, but the extreme is we would get educators willing (and there are many, I'm sure) to dictate lessons and direct learning exclusively to the test.

Conversely, in five years things could swing some other way with a new superintendent (and reform reform!) and THAT crop of teachers could be swept out, to be replaced with whatever THAT supt holds dear. IF there is no accountability, IF the board, and the citizenry acting on the board, don't exercise their moderating influence.

If we want educators who are willing to be "let go" every few years, that's fine...In the short term, if we want educators willing to teach to the test to try and score big numbers, that's what we'll get, for, potentially, the principals and APs who are quite quick even now to mouth the reform talking points will become even more "aligned" and will not hire teachers who are lost in displacements because those teachers might be trouble.

Charlie Mas said...

I see seattle citizen's concern better now.

Yes, there should be concern that an unaccountable superintendent with absolute authority will bring pressure onto principals to conform to the educational fad of the day and drop teachers who do not fit that mold - regardless of those teachers' other abilities.

On the other hand, schools have a long and stalwart history of successfully ignoring and surviving waves of reforms no lower and no less sweeping than this one or the next one.

I am much more concerned about the superintendent's INability to hold principals accountable.

Eric M said...

A lot of us feel this wave is different: deprofessionalize teaching, and tear public education into lots of revenue streams...

I've mentioned this before, and I'll point it out again here. Darth Goodloe's SERVE proposal, for all its "scientific" data-driven jargon for creating an "uber-rational" teacher evaluation system, contains a sneaky little clause.

It basically gives Darth the right (no, the DUTY! All Salute!) to overturn any teacher evaluation she doesn't agree with, WITHOUT EVIDENCE, observational or otherwise, without appeal, and fire that teacher.

So, what's the real purpose of SERVE?

District propaganda insists its to help teachers.

Like when Darth Vader chopped off Luke's hand.

To help him.

Charlie Mas said...

Yeah, Eric M, I have to wonder what the NCTQ thinks about that clause. They didn't mention it in their report.

And I wonder what the other SERVE supporters think of it. None of them ever mention it either.

They go about talking about what's fair and what's reasonable and what's right, until they sound downright moderate (it's voluntary, the test is only 25% of the teacher evaluation) but they don't comment on that element at all.

Let's ask them.

wseadawg said...

Eric M: That's the most jaw-dropping and stunning part of the entire proposal and thank you for reminding us all about it.

Only a Superintendent who does not believe in, or abide by, the principle of due process, fair hearings, or hell, the basic rule of law, would desire such power. Only a person with ulterior motives and the desire to trump due process altogether to rule by whim and fiat would want such power. We are talking about a true dictator mentality here folks. Of course she doesn't listen to the community; She does what she wants. That's what this SI is all about: Power. Period. My way or the highway. Doesn't matter what works or what doesn't. If she wants it, she wants it, and will do anything to get it.

I'm tired of the last decade's rogues in government who wiped their feet on the constitution each morning. I'm just as tired of this board and SI making a mockery of basic due process and democratic principles every day.

They say "research shows" or "the data shows" and it's always, ALWAYS, a load of crap. You can find "research" that says the world is flat if you look long enough. It's all Orwellian newspeak and it all amounts to nothing but white noise to deflect having to answer questions and offer that basic thing they demand from everyone else: Accountability.

Sure, I'm getting tired of ranting. I predicted all of this last year, not because I'm so smart, but because it has been, is, and will continue to be, so utterly predictable.

Why so much attention over a handful of "bad" teachers? Listen up folks, and I mean listen well! This IS NOT ABOUT BAD TEACHERS. IT'S ABOUT GETTING RID OF TEACHERS WHO WILL CALL B.S. AND STAND UP TO ADMINISTRATIVE BULLYING.

THAT'S WHO THEY WANT TO GET RID OF. THE PEOPLE WHO ARE A THREAT TO THE EVER-INCREASING POWER OF THE ADMINISTRATION AND IT'S STRING-PULLERS IN D.C.

WAKE UP PEOPLE. DON'T YOU KNOW WHAT A PURGE LOOKS LIKE? CAN'T YOU SEE THIS ONE COMING LIKE A FREIGHT TRAIN FROM A HUNDRED MILES AWAY?

Any provision that offers any opportunity whatsoever to force a good teacher out of the profession is inherently evil and cannot be agreed to by the union. DO NOT TRUST THIS ADMINSTRATION. THEY ARE NOT TRUSTWORTHY. YOU ALL SHOULD KNOW THIS BY NOW.

wseadawg said...

Perhaps an easier way to say it is this: MGJ want's absolute power over teacher evaluations.

Power corrupts.

Absolute Power corrupts absolutely.

Any questions?

Teachermom said...

I haven't heard about that clause again since the original SERVE proposal came out. I assumed it was taken out, because I only hear SEA talking about not attaching test scores to teacher firing decisions. I also thought it might be some kind of strong-armed bargaining tactic, not an actual proposal, because who would make that proposal with a straight face?

Have I missed something? To me, that clause is the bigger deal-breaker.

Eric M said...

That clause is a huge dealbreaker. It's still there.

It also makes a joke of the rest of SERVE.

A really bad joke.

dan dempsey said...

"I'm just as tired of this board and SI making a mockery of basic due process and democratic principles every day."

Toss in the Three Superior Court Judges Inveen, Middaugh, and Doyle as helpers that enable the ongoing mockery of democratic principles. They have chosen NOT to require the District to follow state law as written. Inveen and Middaugh do not care about the state audit either.

With the SEA bargaining team now failing to bring up the Dictatorial Power in the contract language, it seems the only folks interested in accountability are the readers of this blog and perhaps the unrepresented SEA members.

SEA Executive Director Mr. Bafia care to comment?

seattle citizen said...

Charlie wrote:
"schools have a long and stalwart history of successfully ignoring and surviving waves of reforms no lower and no less sweeping than this one or the next one."

SOME schools. Those with principals savvy enough to navigate the pressures to change up top. But some principals, and I'd posit that it's often principals in the poorer sections of town, are under pressure from below: parent/guardians (or the IMAGINED p/gs, as "represented" by such groups as OSC) create real and media-created pressure on principals to follow the new program: "Oh, whole schools are failing! Not just some students or teachers in the schools, but WHOLE SCHOOLS! We must change them!"
The standardized test movement has helped foster this: One, and I mean this respectfully, poorer communities have less involvement in or knowledge about the schools, and appear (at least through their surrogates, such as OSC) to be willing to go along with high stakes testing; and two, an explanation I've heard, that poorer and disenfranchized communities see these standardized tests as the ONE place where their child can be seen as being "equal" or "better" than those connected children to the north - the WASL, for instance, allows people who haven't been allowed to demonstrate excellence in the real world to demonstrate excellence via WASL scores. Or that is the belief.

But to bring it back around, principals in poorer schools are under greater pressure to "get with the program" than those who are in schools populated by relatively content parent/guardian/student units.

Perfect! The usual target for "reform," poor communities, get it. THOSE schools are regularly ravaged by whatever wind is blowing. See Cleveland. But as was pointed out by another commenter, THIS reform wave is much, much bigger, its goal is to destroy the union and make it easy to replace teachers with malleable instructors who can be hired on the cheap and fired if they open their mouths without their script in hand, and this will effect ALL teachers in EVERY school.

Dora Taylor said...

One thing about the NCTQ, which I receive a daily google alert on, is that I have noticed a pattern around the country. Wherever there is a challenge to the existing school system by reformites, there is always a NCTQ report which is touted in the press that was done before the school system was "attacked".

It has happened everywhere else and several of us called it last fall when they first came to town with their report brought to you by the Alliance regarding "human capital", meaning our teachers.

I just re-posted my "notes from the field" about that presentation at:

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/

It's been waived around by our faux roots groups a lot recently and written about in the press.

Is this part of a national and well coordinated effort by a few? Absolutely.

Yes, of course there is going to be something in this report that resonates for all, that's how they lead you into buy-in.

It happened with the Community Values Statement, didn't it? Of course we want a great education for all of our children, absolutely! But there was a subtle caveat about "teacher effectiveness" that most folks didn't kind of notice. Now, those same reformites are coming back at everyone saying that they have complete community buy-in on teacher performance based on student testing and that yes, teachers are to blame for all that ails our system. All because organizations and individuals bought in on something that at the time seemed perfectly OK. The Community Values Statement. Who can argue the fact that our kids need a great education?

Now it's happening again with this second NCTQ report.

Don't be fooled, this report IS a wolf in sheep's clothing.

For an interesting read regarding about the NCTQ, see:

http://www.lawrencebaines.com/box.html

zb said...

My problem is that I don't think that sufficient management talent exists for principals, even good ones, in "difficult" schools to attract teachers based on good working environment. You're applying the same accountability, free market measure to principals, by giving them freedom to attract teachers, good teachers will go to attractive management. But the principals work with the same issue the teachers do -- that a large amount of the environment and the ability of the children to learn is not under their control.

I don't think even great principals are going to be able to keep great teachers happy at a school where the students are extremely challenging.

Charlie Mas said...

It's funny, but I was originally writing about this idea (good teachers clustering around good principals) in response to the NCTQ prediction about the more even distribution of experienced teachers at affluent schools and reduced concentration of turnover and inexperienced teachers at low-income schools.

I meant to show their poor thinking on the matter. The clustering will still happen but it will happen around principals instead.

I just thought of something else about their thinking on this. They seemed concerned that experienced teachers cluster, but they also claim that experience is not a valid measure of teacher quality. So why would they care if the experienced teachers cluster?

A Mom said...

Doesn't the constant reassignment of principals over the last two years make it difficult to "follow" a principal? What percent of schools haven't had a new principal? And how do the number of reassignments compare to pre-MGJ days?

Teachermom said...

"I don't think even great principals are going to be able to keep great teachers happy at a school where the students are extremely challenging."

If the principal is great and the support is there, I think most teachers are happy to work with extremely challenging students. If you have 28-30 extremely challenging students in one class with no supports, then yes, not much the principal can do.

kprugman said...

"I am much more concerned about the superintendent's INability to hold principals accountable."

That makes no sense at all.

Whenever a new Superintendent climbs onboard, the first administrators that get replaced are always Principals. Principals can be fired or 'promoted' They are contractual, not union employees.

Principals can make or break a superintendent. Principals are always accountable - much easier to replace a principal than a teacher. That's why they get paid a bigger salary - more financial risk.

Teachermom said...

The Principals have a union. It is called the Principals Association of Seattle Schools, or PASS.

From the District's website:

Pending negotiations with labor partners for collective bargaining agreements expiring August 31, 2010:

SEA - Certificated Staff
SEA - Paraprofessionals
SAEOP (SEA) -Office professionals
PASS - Principals
SBCTC -Buidling Trades Council
NW Regional Council of Carpenters
Teamsters, Local 117 - Warehouse
IAM, Local 79 - Machinists
Automotive Mechanics

Teachermom said...

Principals' Association:

http://soundpolitics.com/archives/013790.html

Teachermom said...

From http://www.seattlepi.com/local/142552_school04.html

During the superintendent search of 2003:

"The Principals Association of Seattle Schools also supports Castro but feels that if she's not the board's first choice, the search process should be reopened, said the group's president, Cothron McMillian.

McMillian would be happy to see Manhas remain interim chief for an extended period.

"I feel strongly about Raj's ability to continue us in the path we are going," she said."

Teachermom said...

Sorry to be a "repeat commenter", but I think that many people don't realize that our principals have a union.

It is important for people to know it as teachers and their unions are dragged through the mud.

Sahila said...

I'm glad you brought up that reminder Teachermom... seems to me that teachers get scapegoated... but how many lame principals also are in various schools and are only moved around, not gotten rid of? I am thinking of one in particular and I'd guess you all can think of your own examples....

and how many of us think it through that the principals' union serves the same function as the teachers' union?

and how many of us then get mad at the principals union for protecting their own?

If princiapls get due process, why shouldnt teachers?

And this clause in SERVE giving MGJ the right to fire teachers at will, with no due process and no chance to appeal... if we think that's a good thing (I dont) why isnt that applied to principals?

kprugman said...

The principal's association is not a union - it is no different than the Hispanic Teachers Association of Portland. Principals don't negotiate as a union, they are free agents. PASS is a charitable non-profit. The association might publishes opinions about policies that affect their jobs. You can make a donation to them if you approve of their work.

http://www.charityblossom.org/nonprofit/principals-association-of-seattle-schools-seattle-wa-98109-bilhoa-caldwell-910900468

MGJ has had enough time to remove her opposition if there had been one. It doesn't take long to ferret out your opponents. Its sort of like playing chicken with some of these characters. They're not going to show their hand until they are absolutely sure of the outcome. Better of letting Marie Big Pockets shoot herself and her compadres in their feet.

Anonymous said...

Ya, no. PASS is in fact a barganing unit, and principals do are not free agents. They are on a set pay scale that tops out based on seniority, with the highest possible pay being for a multi-year high school principal. They have mandatory dues for the pleasure of being represented, and yet still are management for all other purposes.

GT

Anonymous said...

PS- state law makes it really hard to fire a principal who has been on the job for more than three years.

Anonymous said...

kprugman, I am pretty sure you could donate to SEA if you wanted. Doesn't make 'em any less of a union. The District and PASS have a CBA, ie "Collective Barganing Agreement," that governs the terms of administrators employment. Making PASS, wait for it, a union. Most administrators at other districts are represented by the statewide administrators association. Seattle Principals get PASS.

Belle1 said...

I emailed WEA about the SERVE clause regarding the superintendent over-riding principal evals, and this is what she said:

"The superintendent can’t supersede state law. She would not be able to fire at will. We are aware of that clause and every other draconian, right-to- work, anti-union thinking of the district. Keep up your support to our bargaining team."