August 3, 2010
The TRUTH about SERVE Seattle
(Please read and pass on)
Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson and Board Member Steve Sundquist sent all certificated staff an email tonight. The email contains and describes what they are calling SERVE Seattle.
It is the district's bargaining proposal that ties student growth based on test scores to certificated evaluations. The SEA held five focus group meetings last week to get input on the district’s proposal. We had over 200 certificated employees present at the focus group meetings, representing 57 schools and programs. Now the superintendent believes that if she just emails each of you; maybe you will put pressure on SEA and the bargaining team to go the way the district wants us to. The truth of the matter is that the email they sent you leaves out important details. Based on what our members told us at building visits, through the bargaining survey, and at last week’s focus groups, the SEA Bargaining Team will listen to its members and continue to say NO to SERVE Seattle!
Here is the truth:
They say the district is “working together with your SEA representatives to make sure that every teacher gets the tools, time, support, and opportunity needed to help students succeed.” The truth is that SEA has raised the issue of giving teacher’s support around class size/caseload and workload. SEA wants to make sure that you have the tools, time, support, and opportunities needed to help students succeed. SEA has made proposals that are research-based that we know can work to close the achievement gap and raise student academic achievement. Our proposal is in concert with a recent report by leading national civil rights groups.
They say that significant change is happening in education throughout the country, and they are committed to a thoughtful, fair, and collaborative approach that benefits from lessons learned in other districts and builds on their success here in Seattle. The truth is SERVE was not developed in a thoughtful, fair, and collaborative approach. They only argue that others are using it, not that it works. We know that they use something similar in Washington, DC where 241 teachers were just fired in one swoop, while over 700 others were put on notice.
They say SERVE gives teachers and other staff large blocks of collaborative time. The truth is that in exchange for 2 hours of collaboration time every other Friday beginning in 2011-12, you will teach students for 12 minutes longer each of the other nine days prior. The truth is that of the 19 days they offer for collaboration, 5 are district directed, 7 are principal directed, and only 7 are staff directed.
They say SERVE gives career opportunities which will be available at every school with stipends. The truth is that they are not available until 2012-13 and only 3-4 teachers at each school will have the opportunity to partake in them. Teachers would have to opt in to SERVE and be at the highest level in all four domains of the new proposed evaluation tool. Although site based hiring would take place, principals will make the final decision on who gets the positions.
They say SERVE offers support for new and developing teachers, almost doubling the number of STAR mentors to support professional growth in instructional practice. The truth is that the joint SEA and SPS STAR Panel made the recommendation to improve the STAR program and it was not originally tied to SERVE.
They say SERVE will provide detailed information about student outcomes to help teachers understand the effects of their practice on all students they serve. The truth is that MAP already provides you with detailed information and SERVE does not enhance that in any way. The truth is that these reports will also be tied to your evaluation.
They say SERVE will provide significant 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. The truth is that it was the joint STAR panel that developed the language for doubling HR consulting teachers. The truth is they will offer a fund of $500 per teacher evaluated unsatisfactory in 2012-13 to help pay for principal suggested professional development and release time for other teachers to assist them. The truth is that our evaluation proposal, which was jointly developed by an SEA and SPS task force, also gives teachers support when they need it without SERVE.
They say SERVE will recognize the critical work performed in our most challenging schools, by offering stipends to strong-performing teachers in our lowest performing schools. The truth is that teachers will have to be at the highest level in two domains of the proposed evaluation tool to get the service stipend. All other teachers working in the most challenging schools will not get anything extra even if you are working hard to help students achieve. The truth is that teachers will have to have their evaluations tied to student growth using test scores. The truth is that the district’s proposal gives them the discretion to change the eligibility criteria depending on funding availability.
They say the “four-tier” evaluation system developed by the joint SEA and SPS task force is mandatory and will be rolled out over the next two year in all schools. The truth is that the roll out of the new evaluation system HAS TO BE BARGAINED. The district cannot make a unilateral decision of when to roll it out. The new state law requires it be in place by 2013-2014. We are willing to BARGAIN the roll out and have a proposal on the table to make sure it gets rolled out effectively.
They say SERVE allows a teacher to choose when to tie their evaluation to student growth outcomes and peer and student feedback. They will give those who opt in fully to SERVE an immediate 1% increase to TRI. The truth is that those who decide not to opt in would make less money this year than last year due to the state taking away our final learning improvement day and you will have no increase in compensation over the life of their proposed three year contract. The district has told us at the table that you have received big enough raises over the last five years and thus do not need any increase in your compensation over the next three years. The truth is that even though the economy may not be at its best, every teacher in our 11 comparable districts except for Highline will be making at least the same amount of money as this past school year and most will be making more.
They say in the email that those teachers who opt in will receive targeted support if they are struggling. The truth is that the proposed professional growth and evaluation system provided by the joint SEA and SPS task force gives ALL teachers who are struggling some targeted support.
They say that SERVE will use a reliable and balanced set of measures to foster professional growth, including measures determined by teachers themselves. The truth is that the goals that teachers set would have to be determined by you, along with your peers in a professional learning community and then have to be approved by your administrator. There are no measures in SERVE that you have authority to determine by yourself. The joint SEA and SPS developed proposal did allow for individuals to set their own goals or use the reflective nature of a professional learning community.
They say SERVE uses multiple measures that would capture performance in student learning outcomes and growth. The truth is that the outcomes and growth would be based only on student test scores on MAP, the new state MSP, and end of course assessments. The truth is that only teachers of tested subjects will have to fulfill this requirement which is 25% of their overall evaluation. They will be held to a different standard than their peers who teach in non-tested subjects.
They say SERVE uses multiple measures and the overall school performance would be part of your evaluation. The truth is that your evaluation will now be based partly on how others in the school perform. You will now be evaluated on other people’s work and not just your own.
They say SERVE uses multiple measures and would capture performance in service to and collaboration with peers and students. The truth is that the district wants to survey your students, parents, and even your colleagues and then include those survey results as part of your evaluation.
They say 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. They say the new multi-faceted evaluation tool will be “fair, comprehensive, and reliable”. The truth is that this is a proposal of theirs and it would have to be bargained. The truth is that we proposed that the district use the SIG schools and a blind study of those members piloting the new “four-tier” evaluation system to see if the evaluation and student growth coincide. They told us they have “confidence” that their SERVE proposal would be “fair and reliable” and do now want to do any study.
They say they will roll out SERVE in 2011-12 as a tool for professional development and growth. The truth is that the proposed professional growth and evaluation that was jointly developed by the SEA and SPS task force truly is a tool for professional development and growth. The truth is that the district is looking to mechanize evaluations and automate the firing of teachers.
They say they remain committed to a collaborative process at the negotiation table. The truth is that last week, the superintendent told a representative of the Washington Policy Center that with the failure of the collaborative approach, the district will now be engaged in classic, and contentious, union/management negotiations, a process that will take many months. When asked whether the District was preparing for a possible strike, her answer was, yes, but I’m not at liberty to give out details. The truth is that SEA has been willing to collaborate around areas that will truly help close the academic achievement gap and help raise student achievement. SERVE DOES NOT meet this need.
They say that providing all teachers the opportunity to improve their practice is the pathway to increased student achievement. The truth is that we definitely agree with this. Improving professional practice is ONE way of increasing student achievement. The joint SEA and SPS evaluation task force has proposed language that will help teachers improve their professional practice. It uses a standards based “four-tier” evaluation tool that is linked to improving student academic achievement. The district, itself, has provided research studies that show there is a correlation between the standards based evaluation tool and student academic performance. We want to give the jointly developed evaluation system a try. The jointly proposed system is designed to create a culture of continuous improvement. SERVE does not. Their mechanized system is one of minimal rewards and automated punishments.
They say nothing in their email about the cost of SERVE. The truth is it will cost over $3.9 million dollars over the next four years. The truth is that part of this cost includes hiring 3 new managers. The truth is that the $3.9 million dollars is strictly for operational costs to put SERVE in place; it does not include any of the stipends for career ladders, stipends for working in low performing schools, or the 1% increase for opting in to the program.
SERVE Seattle does not serve students, families, or educators!
Go to the SEA website at www.seattlewea.org and see the district’s SERVE proposal.