Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Teacher Contract Negotiations - End Run

The District's contract negotiators are trying an end-run around the SEA bargaining team to appeal to the teachers directly. They have sent the teachers this letter by email, by regular post, and they have posted it on the web.

Introducing SERVE Seattle:
Support, Empower, Recognize & Value Educators in Seattle

August 3, 2010

Dear Seattle Public Schools Teachers and Other Certificated Staff:

All of us who are part of Seattle Public Schools are committed to providing an excellent education for each child. As we know from our own experience and from national research, nothing matters more to student achievement than good teachers.

Our teachers deserve a system that supports them as professionals, recognizes their excellence, and encourages collaboration to strengthen instruction. That is why we are working together with your SEA representatives to make sure that every teacher gets the tools, time, support, and opportunity needed to help students succeed.
We are writing to you to express our respect for your dedication to our students and to provide information about our efforts to develop a new system to support your success.

Significant change is happening in education throughout the country, and we are committed to a thoughtful, fair and collaborative approach that benefits from lessons learned in other districts and builds on our success here in Seattle.
At the end of the month, you will be gathering to review our progress toward a new contract. After months of deliberation with your labor leaders, we offer this report of some of our current contract proposals. We will send you a more detailed version of our proposals by mail and post information on the District’s website in the days to come.

Benefits of SERVE:

We have designed SERVE carefully to meet the needs of all certificated staff. Our goal is to provide you with the tools, time, support, and opportunity you need to help you grow as professionals and help all students succeed. Specifically, SERVE offers:

► Large blocks of collaborative time for teachers and other staff.

► Career opportunities at every school, with stipends for Demonstration, Mentor and Master teachers.

► Support for new and developing teachers, such as almost doubling the number of STAR mentors to support professional growth in instructional practice.

► Reports that provide detailed information about student outcomes to help teachers understand the effects of their practice on all students they serve.

► Significant new dollars focused on helping principals support struggling teachers by connecting them to relevant professional development, coaching and mentoring opportunities; and doubling the number of HR consulting teachers to support those on performance improvement plans.

► Recognition of the critical work performed in our most challenging schools, by offering stipends to strong-performing teachers in our lowest-performing schools.

► Seattle voters will be asked this November to approve levy funds to support our teachers.

Features of SERVE:

► SERVE is voluntary: while the four-tier evaluation system developed by a joint taskforce is mandatory, and will roll out over the next two years in all schools, teachers can choose when to tie their evaluations to student growth outcomes and peer and student feedback. Those who do opt in fully to SERVE will receive an immediate 1% pay increase (contingent on passage of the Levy or other funds) and become eligible for service teacher stipends, career development opportunities, and targeted support if they are struggling.

► SERVE will use a reliable and balanced set of measures to foster professional growth, including measures determined by teachers themselves. Multiple measures would capture performance in:

• Instruction and professional practice (through the Professional Growth and Evaluation System developed by a joint labor/management taskforce)

• Student learning outcomes and growth

• Overall school performance

• Service to and collaboration with peers and students

Questions about SERVE

Would a new system be put in place immediately? Is it mandatory?
SERVE is voluntary and would be phased in over a period of years. A collaborative system takes time to implement, so we propose that certificated staff have a voice in the program’s development. In the upcoming year, teachers and administrators will work together in a joint committee designed to finalize details of the evaluation system and the supports offered to teachers.

SERVE will roll out District-wide in 2011-2012 as a tool for professional development and growth, and all certificated staff members will have a chance to tie the program to their evaluations at that time. We also recognize that some staff may prefer to see how the program works in the first year or two. For that reason, all current certificated staff members would have the chance to decide if and when they want their evaluations to be tied to student growth measures.

Does this system serve all certificated staff or just some?
All certificated staff will benefit from SERVE. Professional growth opportunities, such as data about student performance and the collaborative support of PLCs, will be available to teachers at all levels of proficiency. Teaching excellence will be recognized as will support to one’s colleagues and service to low-performing schools. Staff who need support would be offered additional resources to help them develop specific strategies to strengthen their teaching.

How would performance be measured in SERVE?
The new, multi-faceted evaluation tool will be fair, comprehensive and reliable. The area of professional practice and instruction will have measures for classroom environment, instruction, planning and preparation, and professional responsibility. Student learning and growth will be based in both teacher-determined and District-determined data and measures, and will account for the fact that not all children are the same. The District measure will be based on the overall growth of a teacher’s students relative to students of similar demographics who have performed like them in previous assessments, and will be calculated as a two-year rolling average on at least two student assessments. The teacher-determined measures would be based on goals aligned with District standards and will be developed within professional learning communities and approved by instructional managers.

We remain committed to a collaborative process at the negotiation table, and we will share information with you through a combination of e-mail, direct mail, and web postings. Our website for labor relations is http://www.seattleschools.org/area/laborrelations/index.dxml
and can also be accessed from the District’s home page by clicking on Labor Relations.

Providing all teachers the opportunity to improve their practice is the pathway to increased student achievement. We look forward to continuing our earnest efforts to reach agreement and being ready to welcome our students back in September for a fabulous new school year.

Sincerely,

Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D.
Superintendent

Steve Sundquist
School Board Director and
Board spokesperson on negotiations

55 comments:

Sahila said...

God I hate weasel words..... why dont they just stop insulting our collective intelligences and use plain English to name what they are trying to shove down our throats...

We have here now, what's been happening in New York, Chicago, Florida, DC, Colorado...

Merit Pay is one of three planks of education reform on the Broad agenda...

And we're a District infested with Broadie Toadies, lead by our Superintendent, followed by senior management and Board members who've been force fed Broad propaganda at retreats, on trips and in literature they were given to read...

hschinske said...

"Those who do opt in fully to SERVE will receive an immediate 1% pay increase"

Whoa. I'm no expert in labor law, but that sounds to me like flagrant discrimination. Can you openly pay someone more for toeing the party line?

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

This effort to communicate directly with the rank and file instead of the bargaining team strikes me as kinda creepy.

The only legitimate reason to do that would be to say that the bargaining team isn't telling the rank and file the truth, and to come to them with that truth. Only this letter has more spin than a dreidle. Hence, the subsequent letter from the SEA to de-bunk the false assertions made in this letter.

gavroche said...

Isn't it against state labor law to attempt such an end-run around collective bargaining?

Aren't Supt. Goodloe-Johnson and her obedient lapdog Steve Sundquist once again breaking the law?

How many state audits of SPS is it going to take to bring these arrogant scofflaws to some kind of accountability or punishment?

By the way, Goodloe-Johnson did something similar last year when she (illegally) sent 3,000 letters to the District's teachers essentially (& illegally) announcing that she had unilaterally nullified their contract.

She had to backpeddle from that, I believe.

In the process, though, she wasted about $15,000-20,000 of District money on that illegal mailing because she had to send those letters by Certified Mail.

She may have intimidated some teachers with this threat, though, so to her mind "mission accomplished." Is this really the kind of "leadership" Seattle wants for its School District?

By the way, when did Sundquist become such a puppet of the Superintendent and Broad agenda? Maybe he's been their guy from start, after all his campaign was bankrolled by business interests.

He was also the champion of that idiotic $5,280 bonus for Supt. Goodloe-Johnson last year for her meeting 4 out of 20 performance goals. Unbelievable.

From what I hear, Sundquist is hated by many of his real constituents in West Seattle, his district, which the closures (he voted for) and new student assignment plan (he voted for) have left in a total mess.

But what does he care? Maybe the Broad/Gates reformites in town and beyond have promised Sundquist some cushy position in their enterprises (a la "Hurricane Vicki" Phillips who got promoted to the Gates Foundation after messing up Portland's Public Schools) in exchange for his service to the Supt, even if he is recalled.

Nice work, Steve.

karyn king said...

SHAME ON MGJ AND SUNDQUIST! When those of us who attended the SEA focus groups, we were told that we couldn't take any notes about the district proposal out of the room to honor the joint agreement not to bargain in public.
But now that it's out, we can call it what it is: union-busting, pure and simple. This proposal is so convoluted and expensive that there is NO WAY we can even work with this administration. Our students are not widgets to be measured. Teachers are not robots to be programmed, set against each other and judged by a computer generated evaluation program.
SERVE is a catchy acronym but I want to serve my students and my community - not the Broad Foundation and its minions.

ParentofThree said...

I thought direct communication to the teachers violates the collective bargaining agreement. Is this true and if so, does this communication violate the terms?

I hate to see a strike, but I cannot support any terms that hold a teacher to the MAPS and MSP test as a measure of success/failure as I believe that my students will pay the ultimate consequence of a test-based classroom.

It really the moment of truth here, and the teachers have the power to reject what we parents have been so vocal about for several years.

BK said...

Three words ...

Unfair Labor Practice

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

The superintendent appears to be anticipating a strike. See the Washington Policy Center blog here.

Pertinent quote:

"With the failure of the collaborative approach, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said the District will now be engaged in classic, and contentious, union/management negotiations, a process that will likely take many months. She declined to specify what contract provisions had led to the break-down.

"I asked whether the District was preparing for a possible strike. Her answer was, “Yes, but I’m not at liberty to give out details.”"

Charlie Mas said...

Steve Sundquist doesn't need a job with Broad or any of that crowd. He retired from a successful career with Frank Russell Investments.

I think that Mr. Sundquist - and all of the other folks who follow the Education Reform movement - don't really engage with it. They just sort of listen to the talk in a trance-like state and nod their heads with a sort of drooling, slack-jawed, cattle look about them. The whole thing just sort of washes over them.

Then, afterwards, they have a sort of rote-memorized droning way of talking about the ideas of Education Reform. They are like a zombie chorus.

If you were to ask them, directly, any sharp questions about how these ideas would be implemented they would fall back on the whole "those things could be worked out" or "I'll get back to you" deferring tactics.

During the contract negotiation is the time to get those things worked out. Not later. During contract negotiations is the time to settle the details. Not later.

Mr. Sundquist and his ilk aren't actually evil, they just aren't good enough to paddle their own boat, so they are carried downstream with the rest of the jetsam.

Sahila said...

How many of us would be willing to put our names to our own "Open Letter" (to SPS, teachers, principals, the community)saying we support the teachers and would support a strike and why?

Its time we joined forces....

I'm in....

zb said...

"I hate to see a strike, but I cannot support any terms that hold a teacher to the MAPS and MSP test as a measure of success/failure as I believe that my students will pay the ultimate consequence of a test-based classroom."

Yup. In another thread, someone talked about the effect that a severely depressed child might have on a teacher's "test scores." But, there's no need to go to extremes. In the classes I've seen, I've seen so much variation in progress (for example, in reading, or swimming) where perfectly typical children make huge leaps in understanding/ability. Sometimes that happens in Kindergarten, sometimes in First, sometimes later. And, the leap depends on the neurons in the child's brain, not the quality of the teaching instruction.

N's of 20 or 30 are simply not enough to wash out the significant effects of even typical differences in children.

zb said...

Oh yeah, and I'm shocked about the weasel words. I doubt that teachers are dumb enough to be taken in, so I'm guessing this letter, ostensibly to the teachers, is really to the parents. They want parents to think that the teachers are getting a reasonable deal, and are just being recalcitrant in the middle of a economically difficult time.

Eric M said...

Another piece of research that would be of personal interest involves those astroturf organization that the League of Ed Voters and the Alliance for Ed trot out as being in wholehearted agreement with the goals of the Broad (I mean Board)?

Some of them remind me of ficticious organizations we used to make up for fun: Ladies Against Women. Tobacco Farmers Cancer Promotion Society, etc. etc.

zb said...

"How many of us would be willing to put our names to our own "Open Letter" (to SPS, teachers, principals, the community)saying we support the teachers and would support a strike and why?"

I'd do it. After seeing that letter from Goodloe/Sundquist, I think I'm ready to do it now. Until I saw the letter, I was willing to believe that the discussion was a technical one, in which teachers could contribute what's most important (it really is true that it's a difficult time for budgets) and that both parties could negotiate in good faith to get best outcomes in a difficult situation.

But, after seeing the letter, I see it as a political battle, and one that's likely to produce badness (a concrete one, tying teacher evaluation to test scores, I believe that's uniformly bad for everyone involved, the schools, the teachers, and the students).

I thought teachers were going to be able to hold the line against it (for their own benefit, as well as for the children's). I see now that that's not going to be enough.

gavroche said...

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

The superintendent appears to be anticipating a strike. See the Washington Policy Center blog here.


Okay, now it's clear: Goodloe-Johnson is not anticipating a strike -- she is instigating one.

She and the District are proposing an agreement that no sane teacher could accept -- and she knows it.

Why?

She and all her teacher-bashing, union-buster cronies (Eli Broad, Bill Gates, even Rep. Carlyle perhaps, and probably the anti-union Seattle Times) WANT the teachers to look bad and seem "unreasonable" and appear to the general SPS and taxpayer public as 'opposed to accountability.'

They want to pit the public against teachers, foment animosity against teachers.

They want to weaken or break the union and force teachers to accept unreasonable work conditions and an evaluation system that has PROVEN TO NOT WORK (read the Vanderbilt University study of the 5-year FAILED merit pay experiment in Texas; read Diane Ravitch's latest book.)

They already tried to do this with insidious forums like the one at McClure Middle School Library last year after the (also politically motivated and unnecessary) RIFs, presided over by Rep. Carlyle and Michael DeBell.

They tried to foment "grassroots" support for the education reform agenda of those who are TRULY running SPS -- the Broad Foundation and Gates Foundation. Support for the pet projects (that don't work, by the way) of Eli and Bill -- privatizing of our schools by handing them over to charter operators and merit pay that ties teacher's evaluations to student test scores.

Their efforts failed. CPPS, the PTSA tried to carry their water for them for a while but didn't completely succeed (though they did help get the bend-over-backwards to "Race to the Top" Senate Bill 6696 passed, the fools).

So the reformites tried to fabricate their own "grassroots" coalition -- "Our Schools" -- with the main objective (in my view ) to create the ILLUSION that there is public support for these bogus "reforms" (merit pay, bringing in unqualified, but cheap NON-UNION "Teach for America" teachers to SPS), and the objective of INTIMIDATING the teachers and the union into believing that the public sides with the District (false), against them (also false).

They tried to this in a collusive effort by the Alliance for Education which hired a political marketing firm (DMA/Strategies 360) to run a push-pull that pushed a merit pay, anti-teacher agenda, created a fake "coalition" ("Our Schools") and pretended this all represented the volition of Seattle's voters and SPS community.

That didn't exactly do the trick, either, not in small part because the savvy readers and writers of this blog saw through that bogus Alliance/DMA push-poll/phone survey.

So now, MGJ and Co. are breaking labor laws to try and intimidate teachers individually and break the union.

Sensing even this may not work, MGJ & Co. WANT to provoke the teachers to strike, in the belief this will make the teachers look bad in the court of public opinion, in the hope that ultimately the teachers will capitulate to MGJ & Co's demands.

It's vile.

It's a political strategy.

It has NOTHING to do with what is best for our kids and their schools.

It's dishonest, coercive, and should be called out for what it is and opposed.

Goodloe-Johnson is pushing a destructive agenda that NONE OF US ASKED FOR OR VOTED FOR. She is pushing the agenda of Broad and Gates, and none us elected them to run our schools.

This is not just an end-run around collective bargaining, it is an end-run around democracy.

I am a parent and I will stand with my children's teachers on the picket lines.

Sahila said...

Those wanting to help construct and begin collecting signatures for an Open Letter, email me at metamind_universal@yahoo.com...

I cant work on it specifically until Friday afternoon... but maybe we can have something ready to publish via the media mid week....

Eric M said...

gavroche, you said it. She is indeed instigating a strike.

I perceive she and the School Broad (not a typo) are backed into a corner. They've achieved little, the small segment of the public that pays attention despises them, they've got HUGE financial problems vis-a-vis the audit, and they're in trouble. Cornered. Like a small rodent trapped by a terrier.

Broad has invested hugely in this effort, and if G-J doesn't deliver, where is she? Even NWEA might not want to hire her.

This is high stakes. This is history in the making, right here, make no mistake.

Organize, read up, and teachers, start getting down to the plasma center once a week and build up a little bit of a strike fund.

Junie said...

I hope we don't have a strike.

Personally, and I think many parents feel this way, don't find this contract to be "the end of days" as it is being portrayed here. It needs work, but isn't as bad as what I thought they were going to come up with.

Could things be handled better? Absolutely. And I think they will be.

At this point, we are looking at the normal, public, in your face rhetoric that is very common at negotiation time. From both sides.

It would be interesting to see how many signatures folks could get on a letter supporting a strike, as well. I estimate about 500.

WenD said...

@gavroche: Yes, she's instigating.

@Sahila: Weasel words. That's very apt. Why does this remind me of response to the Wikileaks doc dumps that did - nothing - to sway the floaters who voted for another $30 + billion to fund a war?

The board and the public have a state audit as evidence that they're being bamboozled, but the board approves MG-J's actions, even if they're illegal (I think they are.)

After countless discussion threads, can we agree that what's called Ed Reform is a misnomer? It's another shake down, in this case, involving union busting? The painful irony is that this lie is perpetrated at the behest of The Kids. It's all to help the kids. The reality is that Ed Reform is designed to replace teachers and change public education across the board, with little eviedence that the results are achieving the stated results.

What troubles me is the statement from SEA, especially the part where they argue that they have the answer to the achivement gap. This sounds like a buy-in to one of the rails of Reform, because there's little evidence that teachers alone can ever address the causes of this gap.

As a whole, I think our culture has endured lies, abusive lies. Remember this one? "They attacked us because they hate our freedoms." That's a zombie lie that will never die, even in the face of evidence that Sept 11 wasn't staged because a terror group hates affluent lifestyles. It was business, strictly business.

The same kind of lie is being perpetrated via Ed Reform. Busting a union has nothing to do with accountability. I think we need to remove that word from the lexicon right now, because the opposite is committed in its name.

Good luck to the union. IME you might want to look at who you have at the bargaining table and who is representing you to the media. Changing up your leadership might "SERVE" you well. I say this constructively, because deceptive memes and lies are where the SPS bargaining position starts i.e. bad faith. Public opinion has already been conditinoed to perceive unions as lazy and allergic to that word, accountability, and this perception will be maximized with the first day of school less than a month away.

FightingForKids said...

Thanks for the voice of reason Junie! I also don't think this is an 'end of days' contract proposal. Things can certainly be tweaked. This is the problem I have adult posturing. If either side doesn't get exactly what they want, then they cry foul and all of a sudden the sky is falling. How about coming to the table with kids at the center and leave the egos, retoric and hurt feelings behind?

Neither side is 100% right. Both sides are equally guilty of acting like spoiled little buttheads.

This district has 45,000 students and this blog represents maybe, on a good day, 500 students--and mostly relatively privledged at that. You need a better way to leverage your ideas besides writing a letter you hope will get in the newspaper and you hope will get read by enough people to care.

Charlie Mas said...

Let's not get out in front of this thing. Even if negotiations break down - or are intentionally disrupted by the District - that doesn't necessarily mean a strike, does it?

If the District and the SEA have not reached an agreement before the current contract expires, I believe they can agree to extend the contract expiration date.

Alternatively, they can agree that they cannot reach settlement and declare an impasse. In that case the District is free to implement its final offer and the union is free to strike if the members vote in favor of that option.

All either party has to do to avoid a strike is refuse to declare an impasse.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

And even if there were a strike, it might last no longer than the Kent strike. Expect the district to go to the court this time.

gavroche said...

I forgot to mention that the Alliance for Education (which has received $26 million from the Gates Foundation, according to Diane Ravitch, and is indeed pushing the same non-data-driven "reforms" Gates currently fancies at the moment), also secretly hired the politically connected, non-objective D.C.-based "National Council on Teacher Quality" for $14,000 (aren't there better ways for the Alliance to spend grant money on our schools?) to come to Seattle last year and "evaluate" our teachers.

None of us asked for this. And it was done in a stealthy manner.

The reformites had tried to get NCTQ "invited" to Seattle by a "grassroots" local organization -- CPPS -- to make it look like we the community were asking for NCTQ, but that failed, in part again because people on this blog knew what NCTQ was and questioned their motives and asked CPPS why it was supporting a teacher-bashing organization (and writing teacher-bashing op-eds).

Again it was another case of the national reformites (Gates, Broad, Duncan, and their minions, like Goodloe-Johnson, Rhee, Klein et al) trying to launder their corporate-backed "ed reform" agenda through local community organizations (to make them appear "grassroots" rather than top-down) -- and failing.

So the Alliance must have decided it had to do the deed itself, so it quietly hired NCTQ, which produced a "report" that was entirely predictable -- predictable because NCTQ has created very similar "reports" on other School District teachers throughout the country.

This "report," by these outsiders who don't know our city or schools, critiqued and criticized our teachers. It also referred to teachers as "human capital." That alone should give us all a clue as to the mindset behind NCTQ and the reformites' attitude toward teachers.

The Alliance, and the District then used this "report" to try and browbeat teachers via the Seattle Times, whose "reporters" were as always willing to write about whatever the Alliance or District urps out without asking the deeper who/what/whys of the "report"'s genesis.

That only got them so far, so then the Alliance used the report as a platform from which to launch their aforementioned push-poll phone survey (illegally using the private phone numbers of Seattle school kids and teachers, by the way) to try and create the illusion that the public agrees with the fabricated NCTQ/Alliance agenda.

By the way, check out the board of directors of the Broad Foundation. Not only is our own Goodloe-Johnson on this board, but the founders and CEOs of Teach for America, and the KIPP charter franchise. It is no coincidence that our Broad-trained Superintendent is attempting to grease the skids for unqualified nonunion TFA "teachers" and yes, I and others believe, KIPP charters, to come to Seattle. Just as she supports the product of the other major education-product manufacturer on whose board she sits, the Northwest Evaluation Association's "MAP (TM)" test.

Do any of us parents have a say in all of this?

No.

(contd on next post)

gavroche said...

(contd)

Here's the key point to all of this: If the reforms that Goodloe-Johnson, Broad, Gates, Rhee, Duncan et al are pushing were genuinely positive, constructive and would truly help kids and schools, they why don't the reformites try to convince us all of their worth openly, demonstrate their value, legitimately earn our support and buy-in?

Instead, they are resorting to coercion (and that includes everything from MGJ's treatment of our teachers here in Seattle to the arm-twisting of "Race to the Top"), stealthy manouvers, duplicity, the fabrication of faux "grassroots" organizations to create the illusion of consent.

Why are they doing this? Because these allegedly "data-driven" corporate-style ed reforms do not have the data or the truth on their side. Their concepts -- privatizing public education, standardized testing and merit pay -- do not make our schools better.

They act like a bunch of snake oil salespeople because that is what they are selling.

I believe that Seattle public school parents are not opposed to change or reforms if both the means and ends are positive, constructive and respectful of, and include the stakeholders -- the parents, kids and teachers of the district.

We all would like our schools to be better for all our kids. But these "reforms" will not achieve that. They will primarily only succeed in lining the pockets of charter franchise operators and test manufacturers with public money.

I strongly suspect that many of the ed reformers in positions of power know this. That is why they behave in such a stealthy and underhanded manner.

I'll finish with a quote from Diane Ravitch, an education historian who served in both the Bush I and Clinton administrations, who was interviewed on KUOW's "The Conversation" recently:

"Race to the Top is a terrible program and I congratulate Washington for not advancing. I hope that you don't win the money, because winning the money means you agree to do things that are very harmful to public education." -- Diane Ravitch

karyn king said...

FightingForKids,
While this might not be the "end of days" and I hope we can avoid a strike, "SERVE" is so severely flawed that I don't see any way it can be "tweaked."
Over the past 10 years, teachers have worked hard to develop a fair means of evaluating teachers and working with the district to rid the system of teachers who should not be teaching. We are far from obstinate, so your name-calling and generalizing about contract negotiations is uninformed and mean-spirited. Both sides are NOT equally guilty of "acting like spoiled little buttheads."

Here is a link to more information on linking test scores to compensation - http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/teachers/study-error-rates-high-when-st.html

gavroche said...

Blogger Junie said...

I hope we don't have a strike.

Personally, and I think many parents feel this way, don't find this contract to be "the end of days" as it is being portrayed here. It needs work, but isn't as bad as what I thought they were going to come up with.


Junie & F4K -- I would not be so quick to belittle the seriousness of these contract negotiations. They were already postponed a year while the District tried to muster its troops (NCTQ, Alliance for Ed, "Our Schools Coalition," SB6696) to pressure the teachers. So this is it, I think -- something's got to give one way or another.

Also, the truth is that most SPS parents probably don't know much if ANYTHING about the contract or the negotiations.

Many are on summer vacation and not tuned in, which is probably just how the District wants it, and the anti-union, rah-rah-Maria Times will not offer an objective or informed view of the issue.

So I don't see how you can speak for other SPS families about this issue or know how they feel.

You must be pretty informed to have been able to predict what would or wouldn't be in the contract, so again, that puts you in a minority.

I do believe, however, that if SPS parents read this or other education blogs, or did the kind of research on "ed reform" that many of us are doing, and saw all the research that clearly demonstrates that merit pay and charters and high-stakes testing gut public education and scapegoat teachers, a large number would not be happy or supportive of Goodloe-Johnson and Obama's reform agenda and "negotiating" techniques.

Already a large number of SPS parents do not support Goodloe-Johnson, and they don't even know the half of what she is doing.

zb said...

"I also don't think this is an 'end of days' contract proposal. Things can certainly be tweaked. "

I thought that until I saw this incredibly weaselly letter to their employees, their partners in educating the children. And, the intransigence on using untested test scores to judge teacher performance. I'm wildly opposed to that plan, and if it isn't tweaked out, I can only keep my fingers crossed that teachers will take a strong stand against it, to protect the interests of the children.

I friend recently returned from teaching in village schools in another country, where teacher pay does depend heavily on test scores. He, who had used the village schools to pull himself out of abject poverty came back heartsore over the failure of the village schools to have provided that opportunity to the next generation. The main culprit: high stakes testing + rampant teaching + families with little knowledge of what the children were supposed to be learning in school (so, they relied on the excellent, but false, test scores).

As Ravitch writes in her book, I greatly fear incentivizing the system in a way that rewards the wrong behaviors. No amount of enforcement can stand in the face of incentives the wrong behavior.

My worst case scenario is one in which honest teachers who want their struggling students to learn (but don't produce the test score increases required) loose out to corrupt (new comers, potentially) who find it easier to look the other way when the kids produce the desired results.

Manning ramparts is worth it to avoid that scenario.

(PS: I am not a teacher)

Junie said...

Wow ZB, you certainly inferred a great deal from what I thought were fairly innocuous comments.

I don't think I was "Belittling the seriousness of these contract negotiations", I think I was stating my personal opinion. All contract negotiations have rhetoric -and these are no exception. It's how negotiations work. (See : Boeing, Waste Management, Teamsters, etc)

I think we would both be surprised at what parents think about performance based management - we both probably have it wrong.

I don't think most parents are the uniformed masses you seem to think they are, but, could be wrong there.

(I am not a teacher either, but I am also not an uninformed parent)

zb said...

"I think we would both be surprised at what parents think about performance based management - we both probably have it wrong."

Well, I'm a parent, and I'm only stating my own opinion about what I think about certain forms that performance based management can take (most notably that judging teacher performance on test scores is unacceptable, a change in the American system worth defending the hill over). I never presume to speak for other parents.

I did not consider the letter sent to teachers to be innocuous, and instead consider it to be double-speak of the worse kind, that gets my dander up. I get very upset when I think someone is speaking around the facts. The SEA response letter posted here doesn't do that -- I may disagree on a negotiation point (I'm not willing to defend any hills over the request to have 2 hours of extra work spent over 9 days in exchange for planning hours). But, though I might not agree with the stance of the SEA in instances, I don't feel like anyone is trying to trick me.

Anonymous said...

Last sunday I had called a person whom I knew would have some knowledge of the collective bargaining negotiations. This person told me they wouldn't mind if I shared this information on the blog, provided I was careful to protect the person's identity.

This is a quotation of what is in my notes, taken during the phone conversation:

"district has many proposal for merit pay [which means] tying test scores to teacher pay.

[District] "wants a review board through the district. Superintendent and Review Board will have power together to over-ride a principal's review. The override is non-grievable.

"In effect, this eviscerates the Union."

kprugman said...

As with math reform, education reform aka education alliance 'favors' balance - curious both reforms were initiated in Michigan.

Busting teacher unions aka performance pay is what education reform is leading up to. If you teach on the other side of the tracks, your school could be a candidate for closure aka kipp charter. That is not equity, it is discrimination and an open declaration of war on human dignity.

Mr. S.U. Cess4all has learned schools can also remove knowledge and make way for belief. Would our lives improve living in Kantian world? I think not.

Anonymous said...

Two Gates Foundation Front organizations are encouraging parents to express support for the District's proposals in the contract negotiations.

Alliance for Education (Our Schools Coalition):

http://alliance4ed.blogspot.com/2010/08/community-groups-renew-push-for-reform.html...

http://www.ourschoolscoalition.org/documents/OSC_open_letter_parents_Aug_3_2010.pdf

League of Education Voters:

[copy of letter distributed via email]

Dear [name],

You made it a priority to take part in the Youth and Families Initiative. Here is another important opportunity to speak on behalf of your children and their schools.

The Seattle School District and the teachers union are negotiating the next teachers' contract. Currently, our schools work for some of our kids, but not all. Our graduation rates hover around 60%, and much lower for a lot of our children of color. Do we want business as usual? Or do we want better student learning? As President Obama said last week, "this status quo is morally inexcusable, it's economically indefensible, and all of us are going to have to roll up our sleeves to change it."

If we want to see improvements, then parents and the community need to speak up about the teacher contract negotiations.

The League of Education Voters goal is to improve learning for ALL children. We helped raise voices for the Seattle Youth and Family Initiative, and we can help raise voices in support of children in the Seattle teacher contract negotiations.

What can you do? Become informed, join us, and forward this email to friends. There is important work to be done!
• Want to know more about negotiations? Visit our webpage on teacher contracts.

• Want to know what LEV and the Our Schools Coalition believes should be in the teachers' contract? View an open letter to parents and the list of goals.

• Want to be part of a rapid response team that speaks up about the contract? E-mail us your contact info.

Thank you for speaking up on behalf of your chidren and schools.

Chris Korsmo
Executive Director

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

Anonymous,

Yes, the district is proposing DEATH PANELS! Here is the exact language in their proposal:

"Adjustments in any teacher's individual rating are solely at the discretion of the SPS Evaluation Oversight Team and the SPS superintendent, and cannot be grieved."

This Evaluation Oversight Team kicks into gear when there are discrepancies in the various ratings a teacher receives.

And what happens if there are consistent discrepancies at a school or for teachers of specific populations?

"If consistent score discrepancies are found at particular schools and/or for teachers of specific populations of students, SPS will closely monitor both student growth measures and their implementation. Evaluators who assign ratings that are consistently at odds with other evaluative components may be directed to receive additional training and support or, in the event that they fail to improve, face sanctions."

No, I'm not making this up. Evaluators can't protect effective teachers by giving them good evaluations when test scores indicate otherwise. If they do, the district can require additional training for them or even levy sanctions against them.

What a bunch of fascists.

artemis said...

anonymous,this part, about the supe having the final say without a right to grieve is the sickest part of it all. She's a dictator.(and possilbly a robot.)

I'm surprised that anyone thinks it sounds like a workable contract. If we all don't wake up now it will be too late.

I don't need much of a strike reserve. My pent up anger at the disprespect of the adminotons towards the entire school community, students especially, will fuel me for as
long as we need to go. I expect I have lots of company in that.

I suggest guerrilla theater. If the media doesn't respond it can go wide and far on youtube and email. Make it really fun and over the top and it could make the evening news. This is what I fantasize about in the school board meetings.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

BTW, the entire SPS teacher evaluation proposal is, as it says at the top of the document on every page, "CONTINGENT ON PASSAGE OF NOVEMBER 2010 SUPPLMENTAL LEVY." [sic]

And, yes, they did spell "supplemental" incorrectly.

Anonymous said...
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Dora Taylor said...

Michele Rhee, who is also on the Broad Board of Directors, along with our supe, has taken the tack that GJ is going for now, total control of our schools.

See: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/07/28-0

I can imagine that comparisons are being made as we speak in Broadland about what is happening in DC and what is happening here in Seattle. And I am sure that our supe is under the gun to "perform" at least as well as her DC counterpart.

For the rest of us, it is getting down to a battle of ideologies. You have Gates and Broad on one side, neither of whom come from a background of education let alone ever had a child in public school, and parents and educators who understand our children and know what works and what doesn't.

You have on the Gates/Broad side the naive idea that it is all about the teachers and nothing else and that standardization of curriculum and all students knowing all of the same things at the same time is a good thing. Looking at their priorities, we don't need our students to have creative or critical thinking skills, let alone recess. I suppose that's for those in private schools that only their children attend. I truly think that they believe the leaders of the future will come out of the private schools. Public schools are for the worker bees and those who will go into the military. (See Chicago, Broad and charter/military schools on http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com )

On the other side you have those who believe that what works is funding education with no strings attached. Our public educational system has been woefully underfunded for 50 years. This is due to the fact that laws have changed and corporations now only pay about 2% of the total of income tax that is collected in this country. You could say that folks like Gates and Broad have been part of the problem for many years, not part of the solution.

On the parent/educator side there is the belief that class size DOES matter, that there should be wrap around services for families in need and that all children should be fed, clean, warm and able to concentrate on their school work in a safe and clean environment.

The "achievement gap" that the reformers continually refer to has nothing to do with teachers and has all to do with the way minorities and low income individuals and communities have been treated throughout our history.

How dare someone like Gates or Broad come into Seattle and tell me what is best for my child! I know what works and I trust the teachers who, through their own experience and knowledge, have been able to provide the learning environment that my daughter needs to be excited about learning and help her to develop a greater understanding of the world.

Testing and retesting of my child is of no value to me or my daughter. Placing such weight on my daughter's test results to make her think that her performance on a test might affect her teacher's career or the fate of the school is unacceptable.

If the teachers do strike, I, and my daughter, will be there with them, walking the picket line.
My daughter’s teachers have been there for her and we will be there for them.

To see my post about SERVE, see:
http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/parents-against-serve/

kprugman said...

Striking is not that bad - we took a tour of the district office, all 900 of us during a board meeting. I got my picture taken. We walked around a block for a few days and I think somebody at the union said we looked too happy waving our signs and another said we talked too much. Our bargaining team did get us an excellent contract, but this only works when all the members think together. I read my contract every year and thank God and my union for it.

Eric M said...

New info from the Supe:

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

Including a link to a new editorial in the Seattle Times: another well-deserved ass-kicking for teachers!
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2012536250_guest05burgess.html

Interesting how the district knows what's in the Seattle Times almost before the Times does!

Dora Taylor said...

Then I would say it's time for some ass-kickin' in the comment section of the Seattle Times.

Anyone have an op-ed in them?

Dora Taylor said...

The gloves are off.

Eric M said...

My response to the latest TImes editorial:


Judging teachers by scores on an unproven test is a stupid, stupid idea.

Emperor's new clothes: classic groupthink by the witless councilmen.

It's a worse idea when the test is not age appropriate, not in line with the curriculum teachers are expected to teach, and really really expensive.

It's an even worse idea when the Superintendent (don't we pay her enough already - I mean, sheesh, more than the governor ???) SITS ON THE BOARD OF THE TESTING COMPANY (NWEA, an out-of-state, hugely profitable megacorp).

People,
a) don't we already pay her enough to get her full attention? (A: nope. Read over the recent damning and exceedingly lengthy audit of SPS. There's immense problems. Any normal worker, given this audit, would already be looking for new work)

b) Shouldn't she have disclosed her connection to this company before helping to arrange a very substantial multi-year contract between NWEA and SPS? (A: nope. No need, apparently, if you're arrogant enough.)

c) Shouldn't the School Board have called her on the carpet for this egregious conflict of interest? (A: should have, didn't, cuz they're rubber-stamping every stupid move. Note that there is a recall petition filed for 5 of the Board members, the ones that voted to extend the Superintendent's contract.....drum roll..... until 2013!)

This Superintendent and her gaggle of geese in high places are goading us teachers into a strike, mindless of the immense harm that causes teachers, students, families, schools, and the district.

The goal: turn public education into a revenue stream. Never mind the collateral damage.

Every time you sit a kid down in front of a MAP test, picture wasted educational resources, wasted student time and energy, a dumbed-down, teach-to-the test education, and money standing up and walking right out of our community, never to be seen again.

Makes me sick.

Dora Taylor said...

Eric,

Nice post. I'll see if I can top that in the morning.

Anonymous said...
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Sahila said...

Anonymous - I'm going to take it that you are sincere in your posting (and that's not meant to be insulting - its hard to tell sometimes whether people are having a dig! I've had people write what you write but in a sarcastic manner)

So, thanks for the kind thoughts...yes, I have lots of ideas and I know where to look for some answers to the issues we are facing and I know its totally possible logistically, pedagogically and economically, and yes, I have a good head for running an organisation (used to be Executive Director of a professional association) and no, I am not in education, and no, its very unlikely that I would ever be given the job of superintendent, even if it was vacant and I applied...

Anonymous said...
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gavroche said...

If I were Seattle School Superintendent, the first thing I would do is take a serious pay-cut, in solidarity with all the children, schools, teachers and programs the District has been cutting back on in the name of "fiscal crisis."

I think $300,000+ is an obscene amount for a School Superintendent to make, especially under current local and national economic circumstances.

The next thing I would do is cancel the MAP test, get our money back from NWEA (faulty product), and use that $4.3 million to hire more teachers and reduce class sizes across the District.

(Okay that last one was a bit of a pipe dream -- I'd guess that NWEA doesn't do refunds.)

dan dempsey said...

Get the $800,000 back from KnowledgeWorks Foundation parent of New Technology Network ... product was misrepresented by sales force to inept school board.

kprugman said...

That's a definite yes, Dan - adopt new accounting and disclosure procedures designed to control capital projects expenditures. Washingtonians have no protection against freeloading contractors. The district budget is an outgoing spigot and somebody needs to close the loopholes, especially in curriculum. That's why nothing appears ever to get fixed.

I'm now getting told names must be put on my popsicle sticks to make 'everyone' accountable (I asked, just to cover my a..). If the kids can't meet standards, don't pass them. Okay, whatever you say works for me. I'm not working in a school that needs improvement.

Schools are being turned into conveyor belts; guaranteed, half the students will fall off before they graduate.

kprugman said...

One word for reform - anal. Instead of putting teachers in classrooms, they ought to consider replacing them with lawyers. They'll be needing some soon enough.

Sahila said...

What's the first thing I would do if I was Superintendent????? Wow, where to start...

Some of this depends on who is on the Board and what the Board takes on as its responsibilities and what would be the extent of my role... but if the Board wants to work in full partnership:


I think the first thing I would do is move the community towards a style and actual process of governance/administration that is not top down...

I like Gavroches and Dan's ideas - but probably wouldn't be the first thing I would chase - not sure how successful I'd be in getting our money back... but I would suspend MAP and state testing until we as a community could have a conversation about that - about what people want, about how best to measure individual childrens' progress over each year...

Second priority after changing the top down approach would be to clean house internally!

Form a community group (with representatives from all interest groups, including teachers/the union)that acts as a guiding council for the District... I know this is what the Board is supposed to be/do but it is not doing its job, its not representative of the community and its too inaccessible...

Sever links with Broad/Gates/the Alliance et al...

Open communication with all school community stakeholders to see what we can do about all the changes imposed over the past three years what does the community want to keep and what does it want changed - some things probably cant be undone in the short term, so how to ameliorate them in a way that honours all needs until we can change them... that means staff going out into the community, not expecting the community to come to staff at times that suit only the staff...

Ask people to have patience for a year while I bring to them all the (non-corporate bias) research available about how to really educate children holistically

Ask the community to nominate people to be part of that process

Bring that research back to the community with some recommendations, leaving the way open for the community to make its own recommendations

Ask the community to vote on what it wants...

Sell or lease the white elephant that is the JSC... move administration into empty/underutilised SPS properties or leased premises around the perimeter of the city... with modern technology, there is no need to house everyone in one place...and there is no reason to be housed in expensive real estate...

fresh, nutritious, cooked on the premises school lunches

restructure the school day

late start times for adolescents

reintroduce vocational programmes for kids who want them

give equal weight/support to arts, music etc as is given to academic subjects...

and on and on it goes....so much to do.....and only one lifetime to do it! (well, not really only one lifetime, but that's another discussion!)

Sahila said...

I would do what is needed so that no other young person ever has to articulate the thoughts of this graduate:

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/valedictorian-speaks-out-against-schooling-in-graduation-speech/#comments

Charlie Mas said...

The first thing I would do is create a program that will quickly accelerate the education of students working below grade level and get them on pace.

Could we have a higher priority?

Next I would create a new job called building manager and assign them all of the non-instructional work now assigned to principals. I think that each building manager could handle two or three schools. They could do the budget and the schedule and the HR administration and take care of the physical plant. I want principals to focus on instruction as exclusively as possible. If discipline becomes too great of a time drain I'd like them to delegate that too.

I would dedicate the necessary resources to make inclusive classrooms work for everyone in them.

I would redefine the mission of the central learning and teaching group more narrowly and shrink that staff.

I would require authentic community engagement in the decision development stage of every signficant change. Nothing would move forward without it. I'll stop things that don't have it.

I would set procedures for establishing new programs. I would reform the program placement process and correct a few bad program placements.

I would make language immersion programs and Montessori programs Option programs.

I would use part of the superintendent's update at the beginning of each school board meeting to address each of the concerns raised in testimony at the previous meeting.

vitamincee said...

Parents of AYP 2-5 step schools received letters yesterday from SPS. The list of schools doesn't appear on the OSPI website yet. Does anyone have the list? Also, what step is our district on? (I think 2 or 3)

kprugman said...

Charles - civic engagement are words spoken like a politician.

Your district has engaged in acquiring some expensive, new programs and the voters want to know how the district is going to pay for them and why they weren't properly informed.

Why would anyone want to take on such a dismal task as the one you are preparing for?

I won't dissuade you - I prefer anarchy over slavery any day.

What Washington's schools really need is a revision of the code of laws and procedures controlling capital expenditures of public institutions.

You cannot try elected officials for breaking laws that don't exist in Washington. That is the Attorney General's responsibility and ultimately your Governor is responsible.

An optimistic appraisal of the situation is some of the board will resign. The skeptic, however, argues it won't matter.