Thursday, September 23, 2010

Central Region Welcome Back Meeting report

I attended the Central Region Welcome Back Meeting last night at Bailey Gatzert. A lot of folks were there, Michael DeBell and Kay Smith-Blum from the School Board, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, Susan Enfield, Nancy Coogan and most of the principals from the region, also Bernardo Ruiz and Patty Spencer from the District, and a number of familiar community faces including Solyn McCurdy from the Alliance, Kerry Cooley-Stroum from CPPS and SchoolsFirst!, Ramona Hatterdorf from the SCPTA, Chris Jackins, and Jane Fellner - among others, and about 30 citizens whom I hadn't met.

Bernardo Ruiz welcomed us and introduced Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson. She spoke of the District's mission to create the kinds of classrooms we all want for our sons and daughters, that the Strategic Plan represented a moral belief and a commitment to provide excellence for all, that the curricular alignment was about assuring access to grade level instruction, quality materials, acceleration where appropriate and intervention where needed. She spoke of re-designing the central office to focus it on supporting schools and kids. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson acknowledged that we weren't there yet, but that we were making progress and moving in the right direction. She then introduced Dr. Enfield.

Dr. Enfield spoke of how the Education Director job had been re-designed, not just by region instead of grade level (to facilitate interaction between the grade levels) but also to re-focus it on supporting the principals to support instruction. She spoke of the Teaching and Learning Leadership Team (TLLT) that she formed consisting of herself, the five education directors, and the heads of bilingual education, special education and advanced learning, and how they work together to support learning for all students.

Bernardo offered folks the opportunity to ask a question in front of everybody, but only one person spoke, to gush about how wonderful Bailey Gatzert school is. It was really nice to hear.

I first spoke with Michael DeBell. I spoke to him about the plan to allow schools to experiment with alternative materials, but that the District would build a stop-loss into the experiment. If the outcomes didn't meet a benchmark, the experiment would be stopped. While I understood the concern that 300 students might be using poor materials, I wondered why we didn't show a similar concern for 30,000 students and build a stop-loss into the adoption of Board-approved materials. Director DeBell was candid, cordial, and cautious, as he almost always is. He agreed that such an accountability measure would be a good thing to include, but that we often don't have well-defined expectations for student outcomes. We have them for reading and math, it's true. He then reminded me that accountability requires two things: first the expected outcomes, metrics, assessments and benchmarks, but also the will to enforce the accountability. Without saying as much he acknowleged the lack of will within the District leadership to enforce accountability. We commisserated a bit about the Southeast Initiative and then I let other folks talk to him.

I introduced myself to Nancy Coogan, the ed director for the Central Region. Boy, I like her. She was open and candid, energetic and optimistic. I shared with a story about how - before anyone stated otherwise - folks were concerned that curricular alignment might be misapplied to NOVA in a way that would devastate the program. I told her that now that Dr. Enfield had addressed the issue and assured folks that NOVA would not be steamrolled by curricular alignment everyone was much relieved. Dr. Coogan has been to NOVA and freakin' loves it. She told me that the program has an advocate in her.

In a later conversation with Kay Smith-Blum and Dr. Coogan I learned that Garfield's enrollment, as of that day, was 1784. Yikes! The school had trouble last year finding space for all of the students when the enrollment was about 1600. I was told that the Mann building was being considered as an annex, but it has been partially rented out. That was news to me.

I got to talk a bit with Susan Enfield and I asked her about the status of Response to Intervention. I told her that I thought it was the highest priority in the District and how dismayed I was at the lack of regard and funding the project was getting. She told me how important she thinks it is also, but that there's no funding for it. She's hoping to pilot it again this year in an elementary, a middle school and a high school. I don't understand how this can be such a high priority for the Chief Academic Officer and still not get attention or funding.

I had a very brief exhange with Dr. Goodloe-Johnson at the end. I didn't want to ask her a question but she insisted. I asked her for examples of accountability and she started with herself. She said that she was accountable for the District Scorecard. I questioned the data point on the scorecard that 82% of Strategic Plan projects were ontime and about the status of the response to the APP audit. She didn't share my impression that they were practically all overdue and she qualified the measure to "ongoing" projects. I asked about the Southeast Initiative and she claimed that the annual benchmarks and project goals HAD been made public and presented twice and she refused to acknowledge the effort as a failure. She went on about how we can't expect results in just three years. I asked her why, in that case, there were expected results for the project. Apparently those were aspirational goals, not accountable ones. She also said that success shouldn't be measured in just enrollment. Umm. Success in increasing enrollment can be measured in enrollment. I didn't want to be talking to her, it just made me feel icky, so I broke it off. There was no point to it. If she cannot admit that the Southeast Education Initiative utterly failed to achieve its stated goal or meet the statistical goals set for it then there is just no point talking to her.

39 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

There's the Dr. G-J I know. Please, those benchmarks and due dates were her own doing and now they don't count? And you can't expect results in 3 years? I thought Kids can't wait?

I don't expect miracles but don't hype something and then let it die on the vine. If you can't get results in academics, how about working on those things you can see quickly like parent confidence, parent involvement, etc? Oh right, they wouldn't do so well on those measures either.

Anonymous said...

I find it really sad that the community and particularly parents do not attend these meetings.
We all have concerns, but if we don't take the time to go and express ourselves, why should the District take us seriously?
I know, everyone is really busy...
Thanks for all your work Melissa.
--A citizen who attended a meeting

ParentofThree said...

"Aspirational goals"

That's a good one!

And as far as no funding for Response to Intervention program. Umm...there is nearly a million bucks earmarked for a web site redesign. Maybe we table that project and put the money, umm, well, into the schools?

Maureen said...

I'm surprised that no Garfield or Lowell parents asked questions about over crowding and boundaries. Do you think they did ask in the breakout, or had their issues all been addressed in the earlier meeting at Garfield?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Citizen, you are right. Sometimes I think it is parents being busy or "why bother" syndrome. But the district is making this effort and it's a shame not to use it.

Catherine said...

For a newbie like me, there seems to be a lot of meetings. I don't really know which ones to attend or really understand what they are about and just generally feel overwhelmed by the prospect. So, I don't attend any but the local school ones. It agree I should attend more meetings... is there a way to help people like me sort out and prioritize meetings?

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I think you're flogging a dead horse asking the district to announce SEI was a failure. They've taken the Vietnam "peace with honor" approach: declare victory and leave the country.

As with Vietnam, the focus is less about calling it a success or a failure and more about preventing another one. :-)

G said...

There was a long meeting at Garfield on Monday night, with Nancy Coogan and Kay Smith-Blum in attendance, that specifically addressed overcrowding and Garfield. There is another community meeting with Kay Smith-Blum this Saturday morning with overcrowding headlining the event. Personally, two meetings in one week on the same topic is more than enough communication. I thought there must be other concerns in the central region besides the overcrowding issue (for instance, Madrona K-8 is underenrolled!). SPS is doing a surprisingly good job communicating with the Garfield community about the overcrowding, thanks in large (complete?) part to Nancy Coogan and KSB. What a breath of fresh air!

Jan said...

I was there last night too (one of thse 30 citizens, I guess). I have been bothered about Garfield ever since I first clicked on the proposed SAP boundaries last year, but last night didn't feel like the right forum. Too many parents from other schools, whose time was valuable and who didn't need an 'individual school' focus, I thought. And too "celebratory" and "welcoming" -- neither of which are bad things -- to be made into a community feedback session on one (of the many) thing that is NOT working. Also, there is a lot of District awareness around the GHS issue. Kay Smith-Blum knows all about it, as does Nancy Coogan, who says that she has been at GHS daily (not ALL day, I am sure -- as she has other schools to attend to as well, but I think her point is -- her oar is in there) -- AND Kay Smith Blum's "coffee hour is this Saturday a.m. -- AND she has encouraged upset parents to come there for further discussion -- so that is where I will be on Saturday morning. In fact, I want to hear more about SAP issues at other schools.

I did talk briefly with Susan Enfield, and expressed my concern that "curricular alignment" was mindlessly destroying great classes taught by some of Seattle's best teachers who were passionate about the courses they had created (I focused on Marine Biology, because I know that one --but it is no less true of RHS's LA electives, Ballard's science/engineering curriculum, etc.).
I ended up asking her to NOT impose curricular alignment on Garfield that destroys Marine Biology, but I actually have a much bigger picture in mind -- and it gets too off topic here. I need to either go post at "soul of a teacher" or wait for the Friday open thread, I think. (I am trying to not hijack topics, Melissa, I am trying).

As for Susan Enfield's response -- it was the "we are looking into this sort of thing" answer that I guess is better than nothing, but frequently leads to that -- nothing. Concerns get "duly noted," but not incorporated into decision-making. Let's hope we can save the heart of teaching (creative, passionate teachers teaching courses that they are crazy about -- and that inspire their students to really push to greater levels of learning) from the mindless, numbing effects of "curricular alignment" as currently practiced by the District.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Catherine, I guess it would depend on what you want to find out. You have to gauge how important school meetings are (but as a former PTSA co-president, please go to your PTA meetings). As for district meetings, this regional one was new so it was hard to figure out if it was worth it. I would say in this case if you really had a burning question and/or wanted face time with Dr. Enfield or Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, you should go.

School Board meetings, read the agenda (or read about it here, we always review it), then decide. You can always watch them on tv.

Also, if there really is a specific topic (and you care about it) like the new SAP, then, by all means, go. Or, ask a friend or two if you can trade off meetings so that you can keep up without going to so many.

Jan said...

Catherine: adding to what Melissa said -- think about what you want. If what is needed is a "show of force" -- to show parents/community care, support something, or have concerns and are upset, sometimes what is needed is just to show up and be counted.
If you want information -- then the meetings where they talk to you (but you don't talk back) are the right ones.

The trickiest thing seems to be -- how to you get input IN to a system that seems fairly closed? The Director coffee hour meetings seem to be one way. Testifying at board meetings is another. I am not aware of any others (and the two listed only work to the effect that the listeners "want" to "hear" you.)

Central Mom said...

Catherine...If you have a question that affects more than just your kid (eg..you want something addressed or fixed in the district), and you haven't gotten satisfaction through other channels, then go to a public meeting at which you can get a public answer to your public question. So, for instance, go to a meeting like these Welcome Backs, and pipe up when they ask for public questions. (In contrast, you can go to a board meeting, but there you can only testify...there is no back and forth.)It is a lot harder for the District to give you a non-answer when lots of people are in the room.

Also go to these if you just want more info about the district, or if you want the opportunity to see the district leadership (Superintendent, CAO, Ed Directors) face to face. Because after this go-round, those opportunities will most likely be limited for the general public.

The superintendent coffee hours should provide a similar opportunity.

Use the board meetings when you want something recorded as public testimony, or when you want to meet up w/ media or other citizen activists.

Use your PTA/site council to address your school's particular issues. If you or your PTA cannot get it resolved at the school level, then think about elevating the question to one of the aforementioned meetings.

If you have a specific advocacy issue, such as special ed, APP, Alt Schools...there are groups organized around these issues, and you should attend meetings/join the membership there.

The important first step to getting involved is simply...getting involved.

cascade said...

Appreciate the big schedule of superintendent mtgs, but the sheer volume smacks of desperation. If I had seen this 2 years ago, I would have believed the authenticity of the effort. Today I believe its happening only because the superintendent wants to keep her job given the vote of no confidence from teachers and damning polls from parents.

This parent isn't going to be swayed by her effort, because at heart I do not believe she wants the public involved in her agenda. But I do want to see staff continue the outreach even once she is gone. Should have been outreach like this years ago.


Half-forgotten song lyrics were remembered just now, from Johnny Mathis' last hit ---------


Too much, too little, too late to ever try again...Too much, too little, too late, we knew it had to end...Ah, it's over...It's over.

none1111 said...

citizen who attended said: "I find it really sad that the community and particularly parents do not attend these meetings. We all have concerns, but if we don't take the time to go and express ourselves, why should the District take us seriously?"

I've attended more than my share of district/board/program/school meetings in recent years, including one of the MGJ outreach meetings last year. It was a disheartening waste of time, in my opinion, crushing any interest I have in taking time out of my day to do it again.

She either twisted the questions to her liking, didn't answer them, or answered them with semi- (or outright) lies. All of which really pissed me off. And at the end of the day she hasn't listened to one damn thing any of us -- or ALL of us -- have said since she's arrived in Seattle.

So yes, it's quite sad, and I'll probably still find myself at some of these meetings, but far more infrequently. Just thought I'd take a minute to share my feelings on the matter.

Chris said...

In my post on the original meeting announcement thread, I said the thin attendance at these things was embarrassing for both sides. Since then we've been focusing on "what's wrong with the parents that they don't show up?"

Not that this isn't a refreshing break from district-bashing, but 1) let's acknowledge that the district's record on engagement affects people's attitude toward meetings. It was very hard for me to go to this meeting knowing it would be a big waste of time. 2) how did they advertise this? AFAIK the info was disseminated among us wonkiest of wonks. (It was in our school newsletter, but because a wonky-wonk put it there.) Why didn't they robocall?

Now, for the parents. If you go to one meeting this year, I do recommend one of the remaining "Welcome backs" or the Superintendent "chats" in the next few weeks. They seem to be directed at a broad audience and are a good opportunity for you to form your own impressions if you're a newbie.

A parent behind me at the NE meeting wondered if low attendance signified satisfaction. I think not. Parents I have talked to (yes, I really asked "Why do you avoid district meetings" or something pretty close) said they are satisfied with their school and family engagement at that level and they have the sense that probing that larger sphere is bad for one's mental health. Seriously. Where did they get that idea? Me? ;)

Of course, for many meetings, the reporting on this blog is a good as being there. Which is great, especially since there are so many meetings. However, if you feel we are filtering or get tired of our opinions, go yourself.

Chris said...

One more thing: I just wonder how many people watch board meetings streaming or on TV. Is there any way to know? Just 'cuz that's another venue for MGJ to increase her public engagement...probably at least a slightly bigger audience assuming us meeting-goers watch board meetings at least in part...I know it's one-way, but some of her bad mis-steps have occurred at board meetings.

Still, I agree totally with none1111 and all the warm-fuzziness and spin in the world will not change the fact that community engagement will never impact her agenda.

seattle citizen said...

Every other Wednesday: Board meetings, board meetings, board meetings.

Choose other meetings you might want to go to, especially if you want the off chance, the thin chance, the slight chance of actually having a public dialogue or conversation with someone in admnistration, in front of people. Board meetings are merely one-way communication: You can speak but you won't get a response. And only twenty of you can speak; you have to sign up at the crack of dawn (8:00am) Mondays to get a spot. Choose a topic on agenda to speak on, then speak on that and...whatever you need to speak on. Three minutes each; plan wisely.

The Board meeting, every other wednesday 6:00-7:00 public speaking slots, is the ONE place where the rubber really meets the road: This is OUR board, and they run EVERYTHING. The Board is the democratically elected body, responsible to you. Other meetings are often administrative; they aren't responsible to you, but to the superintendent and the board. At the meetings, they all sit in one place, listening. They are accountable, there, to the public. Sometimes the media comes. You can bet that if everyone interested in public education made a point of packing that board room to the gills, demanding monitors in the lobby, organized their voices...THEN there would be media, and then there would be change.

Rosie said...

Jon Stewart calls us "the busy majority." I think that's apt in so many ways. It's great that a few find time to attend meetings, but I am not surprised that most of us have too much to do and adding another meeting isn't high on my list.

Catherine said...

So if you've missed your area's welcome meeting, is it worth going to one in a different area or would the discussion not be worth it?

Anonymom said...
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Anonymom said...
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Chris said...

Catherine, I would recommend going to any welcome meeting to get a sense of the superintendent and CAO at their best. Assuming these are similarly poorly-attended, you can even ask questions specific to your school in the mingle period, prefaced with "I missied my region's meeting."

Jan said...

Catherine -- I think you should go, even if it is not your region. It really was a chance to talk to MGJ herself (I was afraid I might seize her by both arms, wail "what are you doing to my District?!?!?" (which I concede isn't really a fair question) and then burst into sobs -- so I targeted CAO Enfield instead on a discrete, definable topic I thought was in her area). You will certainly hear stuff about an area that is NOT yours, but they are there to talk to -- and I think posters are right -- based on history, this won't happen frequently. So -- figure out who you want to talk to, and what you might like to ask -- you can certainly preface your statements by saying -- gee, I am from [region X] but I couldn't make that meeting -- but here is my question/concern/etc...."

While I didn't want last night to turn into a GHS capacity discussion, I NOW wish (1) I had asked the Superintendent if she (or someone on her staff there) could just brief the room on central capacity issues generally -- which schools (OTHER than GHS) came in significantly under/over what they had predicted and (2) I had asked if the district-wide enrollment numbers (similar to the chart they had up last spring) could be posted, even if they are changing. A lot of parents would like to know where capacity still exists.

I think I need to go to more of these meetings and get better at asking questions!

Charlie Mas said...

@Mel - I am struck dumb by the enormity of the cognitive dissonance that allows a person to set annual benchmarks and cumulative goals for a three-year project and then say that it is unreasonable to expect change in three years.

@ParentofThree - you took the words right out of my mouth. I said almost the EXACT same thing to Susan Enfield: "We have $700,000 to redesign the web site but we don't have any money for RTI. I'm sorry, but what could possibly be a higher priority than early and effective interventions?"

"aspirational goals" was something that Joseph Olchefske used to say. For example, when the District pledged to close the academic achievement gap by 2004. That was an aspirational goal - not a real one.

@Maureen - there were DEFINITELY people talking about Garfield overcrowding - and, I presume, other schools - during the breakout, but, by the very nature of it, I wasn't a first-hand witness to those conversations.

Jan said...

Anonymom: one poster has a name at the end (A citizen who attended a meeting) which Melissa said was not ideal, but good enough. The other (comparing the SEI to the end of the Vietnam war) is not particularly supportive of one thing or another, in my opinion. (While refusing to concede defeat when you quit without winning is not great, working "to prevent another (defeat)" is certainly laudable on the District's part, if true). And -- since we (or at least I) rely on Melissa to go to lots of meetings I don't, write lots of posts that I don't, and make lots of calls and ferret out lots of information that I don't, I can't say that I am particularly bothered if she isn't also monitoring a dozen threads a day to make sure things get deleted on someone's schedule (other than hers).
None of these posts turned into discussions that caused any confustion.
So, what is the problem?

Anonymom said...
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dan dempsey said...

I share the disgust of phony baloney engagement.
I took the time to attend board meetings from January 17, 2007 through May 6, 2009. In that time period I testified a lot but of more significance I thought was submission of evidence that the Directors could use in making decisions.

On May 20, 2009 Marty McLaren and I in a 6-minute testimony, clearly stated: "we give up". We have tried everything to get directors to base decision making on relevant data but the Board refuses to do so. So we are taking legal action. (We appealed the High School Math adoption decision of May 6, 2009 on June 5, 2009)

On February 4, 2010 Judge Julie Spector ruled in our favor. The Board may not exclude evidence in decision-making. The Superintendent who clearly likes excluding evidence decided to appeal and four directors voiced verbal support for this appeal.

No coincidence that these directors rarely have much use for evidence submitted by the public as it might complicate their rubber-stamping of MGJ's proposals.

Does Director DeBell really not get it as to why the district is under several appeals of school board decisions and why another recall attempt will be filed in the elections office next week?

Director DeBell needs to check the data and look at the decisions made, if in need of an explanation.

(Note: The Appellate Court is in wait mode .... All the briefs were submitted months ago but a three judge panel has not been appointed and no hearing date has been set .... we wait and wait and wait some more.)

Central Mom said...

Here's a question for one of the upcoming meetings: when will the Official Report on the successes/failures and promise-to-be-fixed for 2011-2012 going to be presented. They'll have the numbers Oct. 1, so Nov. 1 seems a good target. I want to see it on record.

There are successes in the NSAP planning. Many of them. There are also a lot of messes, as demonstrated by tireless Meg Diaz's charts showing a whole lotta school facilities extremely oversubscribed . Each one of these schools needs an operational plan now and an updated enrollment plan for next year.

wsnorth said...

Why don't people go to meetings? Why hold meetings if the district doesn't actually listen to parent and community input? That is a better question! I could list numerous examples (and still go from time to time), but the NSAP boundary meetings, for instance, were a complete sham, as were closure meetings. At one NSAP meeting district staff explained the 9 criteria for drawing boundaries. Then about 100 hands went up to ask why practically NONE of those criteria were applied to West Seattle. Blah, blah, drone drone drone was the basic response. 5 overcrowded elementary schools was the result. In fact, I think the schools with the largest turnout got screwed the most!

peonypower said...

I went the NW meeting tonight - and the ratio of admin suits in black to parents and teachers was astonishing. My husband came with me and his comment was -" they've hired people to manage people, to mange people." I asked Dr. Enfield about the new science alignment issues and she said that "we are working with Ballard and Garfield on that." I think I'll ask my department head who that would be because if they are not talking to her then who are they talking to? I also asked about the policy change of only physical science, biology, chemistry, and physics being the only courses that will count towards meeting the high school science requirement and she was gasp- surprised to hear this. She is the bleeding CAO- how could she not know that this information was given to department heads a month ago. She assured me that she would look into this, but I have a hard time believing that she did not know about this drastic change, and if she didn't know then what exactly is her job?

Also- at this meeting there was no chance for the whole group to hear people's questions - instead people mingled over cookies and coffee asking questions of MGJ, Enfield and Duessuelt. Were the other meetings like this - or did the format change? Can anyone who went to the other meetings answer this for me.

PurpleWhite said...

@ peonypower

"We are working with Ballard and Garfield on that" - BS I call. Unless by "working with" they mean you MUST align or else. and the ONLY classes that count for science are Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics. Garfield tried to use the "alternative course alignment" process" or whatever it was called- but they gave us 3 days (then conceded longer after we complained) to show how our course that we proposed to keep 1) met the standards 2) Have a week by week pacing guide with activities and how each activity meets the standard 3) Major assessments and how they met up with what the District was doing and how each activity specifically met the standards. They set us up to fail - saying they gave us the chance, but not actually giving any thought to it. How is this ok? The District alignment is destroying a strong science program at both Ballard and Garfield (which again was TEACHER maintained - the District might have given some money at the beginning for one year or so, but then the teachers kept things going). They've already done it in English at Roosevelt. I feel as if they want to destroy the more popular high schools to make room for charter schools? Also, the Alignment has standardized tests written all over it.

curious said...

I was also there at the NW meeting tonight and it sounded from the description I read on this blog that at least the first meeting had a public Q & A and then a mingle and the second had a chance for public questions where I think there was one (?) and then mingling. Unless I missed it, there was no offer of a public Q&A tonight, although the Super said there would be a list of FAQ's on the website (how would they know what the FAQ's are if all the questions are being privately asked to multiple people? Are they getting together later to compare questions?)
MGJ was certainly on a charm offensive, and doing her best to be an open book. I had talked with Susan Enfield and had not planned on talking with MGJ, but she came up to me as I was leaving and said, "I don't think we had a chance to meet, I wanted to make sure we did and that you had all your questions answered and to thank you for coming." It was a little surprising, since I have met her before and that was not my experience of her. (I didn't expect that she should have remembered meeting me, I was just shocked at her new manner.)
They seemed to all be taking emails and promising to get back to people with answers to questions they didn't know about right away-- this is certainly a new and improved effort at communication. i hope they try to keep it up.

Jan said...

PurpleWhite said:


Garfield tried to use the "alternative course alignment" process" or whatever it was called- but they gave us 3 days (then conceded longer after we complained) to show how our course that we proposed to keep 1) met the standards 2) Have a week by week pacing guide with activities and how each activity meets the standard 3) Major assessments and how they met up with what the District was doing and how each activity specifically met the standards. They set us up to fail - saying they gave us the chance, but not actually giving any thought to it. How is this ok? The District alignment is destroying a strong science program at both Ballard and Garfield (which again was TEACHER maintained - the District might have given some money at the beginning for one year or so, but then the teachers kept things going).

You (and the science teachers at Ballard) need to get the stuff below in front of Kay Smith-Blum and whoever is the Board person for Ballard. Teachers do not have the time to do this -- but the PRESUMPTION should be -- in schools where kids are performing well -- that the course works/aligns/whatever. She said she wasn't going to tamper with stuff that was working well. This is NOT fulfillment of that promise.

This needs to work the other way around -- courses that work (and that kids and parents love and that teachers love to teach STAY -- unless performance of the student indicates that the course does NOT meet District standards and needs to be replaced -- top down style.

In any case, they ought to grandfather them for a year, and at least give teachers and parent volunteers a summer to jump through these hoops. No one can take this on during the school year and still teach.

Teachermom said...

I went to the NW meeting and also felt that the format was odd. I didn't have a specific question, but wanted to hear what others were asking.

I am wondering if anyone who talked to Bree Dusseault got a sense of her style or what she is about. I am concerned about her seeming lack of experience - first year as a principal was 2007, in a charter school with 50 5th and 6th graders and 5 teachers, small class sizes.....and she left after 1 year. And 40%+ of the students had out of school suspensions that year.

Her teaching experience also seems to be with charter schools only, small schools with small class sizes.

And last year she was doing research. All she said to the group was how excited she was, and loved visiting buildings.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Peony, I don't know if they offered to take questions as a group but at Eckstein, we were given the choice. People started raising their hands, they took questions and after awhile, we then broke off to talk to different staff.

Science teachers, I'm interested in writing a thread on the science alignment. Could you e-mail me at sss.westbrook@gmail.com

and let me know
1) what classes you might lose if only biology, chem, physics and physical science are considered "science" for grad purposes
2) what programs at your school would get impacted
3) what your principal says
4) are you rallying parents/talking to PTSA
5) would this affect STEM classes

Thanks!

Cascade, that was Johnny Mathis AND Deniece Williams in that gem "too much, too little, too late." I got a smile out of that one.

ParentofThree said...

"...and if she didn't know then what exactly is her job?"

Chief Meet and Greet.

My dreaded sense of what is going on in the highschools is that instead of bringing every school up to the level (and course offerings of GHS, BHS, RSH) they are bringing the levels down to meet the other schools without extenstive offerings.

It's called equity and access.

Bird said...

I also went to the NW meeting.

I didn't intend to talk to MGJ, but was buttonholed by her nonetheless. As I suspected, it wasn't particularly useful to me. I talked about why I think JSIS should be option school and she had nothing to say about it, so there wasn't really any exchange on the topic. I think she was concentrating on her "listening" skills.

I did find out from Enfield that the bit about scoring 85% on the MAP was intended to broaden the number of kids taking the CogAT, not narrow it.

They're sending out letters to anyone scoring over 85%, encouraging them to do CogAT. Enfield said, if your kid doesn't meet that MAP threshold you can still request testing.

She admitted that the website was confusing and said they'd fix it.

That was worth the effort of attendance for me, as so far no one from the district has answered my email about the topic.

I tried to find out the status of ALO in the district. Enfield said it would expand, but knew nothing of the details as to when or which schools next.

I didn't get a chance to talk to Bree, though I would have liked to.

I would have liked to have had a open Q&A before the mingling.
I didn't get a good sense of why the other parents were there.

I spoke a bit with some principals which was interesting because I got a general impression from several of them that they aren't kept very well informed about plans for their school before changes are made.

I would have thought principals would be consulted or at least informed before programming changes were made at their school. Apparently, this is not necessarily the case.

peonypower said...

@ Jan-
The Ballard teachers have brought the science alignment issue to two board members attention - one of whom suggested I talk to Enfield. Yeah that was really helpful.

There is a very active contingency of teachers at Ballard who are trying to inform and discuss with parents and the community about what is happening to programs at Ballard and elsewhere -but I have to say that there is a real reluctance on the part of the PTSA folks and the Board to bring up concerns to the district leadership. It is almost like people are - and I am just going to say it- afraid of the phalanx that surrounds MGJ . Perhaps PTSA's are worried about rocking the boat given that their headquarters is at JSCC. Most of our school board has never known any other superintendent style than the GoJo way, and they just don't have the experience to challenge her. It seems to me that if the board is afraid to confront the Sup. then we are in deep, deep trouble.

Maureen said...

peonypower, see if you can connect with some TOPS grads' parents. Ballard and Garfield are known at TOPS for being good landing places for our science oriented kids. Both schools seem to recognize that some SPS kids come in prepared to go straight to higher level science and accomodate them. TOPS doesn't have a PTSA (Site Council instead) so might be more willing to 'rock the boat.' (A chunk of Ballard BioTech went to TOPS and they probably know how to find me.)