Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hard to Say When the Board Has Made Me This Angry

(Please note, this is not my thread on my TFA research.)

So I'm a little behind so a reader sent me a let he sent to the Board. This letter is about the fact that Teach for America has yet again been put on the Board Agenda for the Board meeting on Wednesday. I went and checked out the agenda (there are several interesting items including public notice of a parent who appealing the use of a specific textbook) and there it was. And, if you read the so-called action report, well, TFA is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Are they kidding me?

So what was my central question before? What is the problem they are trying to solve? Is there a shortage of teachers? No. From the item:

We believe that the larger our candidate pool, the more likely that we will hire the best teachers for our classrooms.

OHHHH. That's the problem, not a big enough candidate pool.

Why TFA?

TFA’s mission is to help eliminate educational inequity by enlisting the nation’s most promising future leaders in the effort.

So is by bringing TFA to SPS, the district is admitting to educational inequity because they haven't put the best teachers we have in struggling schools?

TFA, through its vetting process, has found that most promising future leaders.

That's a pretty big full-of-ourselves statement. Here's another one:

Our region is a finalist for the organization’s new site selection process.

Wheee! We are so lucky!

What is needed to bring them here?

To expand into the Puget Sound Region TFA requires district partners, funding, and university partners.

Well, we know who the district is. Funding? Well now, that's an interesting thing because the Superintendent told me, in front of other parents at the NE coffee chat that the district DID have the money. But wait for it.

TFA requires a monetary fee for each TFA corps member who is hired by the district; should SPS hire any TFA corps members, the district will seek private funding for any district-required fee.

Will seek? She said that the district HAD the money. And whether they have it now or not, we do not have the time for any new project or program that doesn't have a dedicated funding stream.

And university partner? Well, that's a mystery in this situation but I'd lay odds they don't HAVE one yet.

Now interestingly (but no big surprise), TFA teachers would only apply to the low-performing schools. No TFA at Roosevelt or JSIS or Lafayette. They would be hired during Phase III (Phase I is internal and for teachers who want to change buildings; Phase II is for displaced teachers who couldn't find a school under Phase I)

What probably comes in second for making me angry is the so-called research and data sources. It's thin and cherry-picked. Let's just start with the first sentence:

TFA corps members have made a positive impact on schools, as reported by 94 percent of principals in schools across the nation that have hired corps members.

Does that say they are effective teachers? No.

The item goes through the "qualifications" for the TFA teachers but glosses over the amount of training time, calling it "summer" when it is 5 weeks.

They also claim community engagement through the following groups:

They have engaged with Alliance for Education, League of Education Voters, League of Women Voters, Stand for Children, the Washington Policy Center, Partnership for Learning, the Technology Alliance, and the STEM Center.

Where are the real school communities in that group? The Washington Policy Center is a conservative think-tank. Why the hell does the district feel the need to connect with them before parents?

They do mention "connecting" with the PTSA and Seattle Education Association. (I think the SEA would have something to say about that.) But hello? If these are teachers in our classrooms, why hasn't the Seattle Council PTSA done outreach? Does every single PTA/PTSA in our district know about this? Has the word gone out to parents? Will TFA teachers be identified to parents? (If this goes through, I'll do my best to make sure every parent of a TFA teacher knows because I'm sure the PTSA and the district won't tell people.)

What is the rush? Seriously folks, this is the one of THE most important things for the Superintendent and the Board and the staff to be working on? I'm ashamed of all of them. This is nothing but BS ed reform nonsense. If you need a reason to vote NO on the levy, this should be it. A district in crisis doesn't focus on a non-problem like this.

Now sadly, I won't be able to attend the Board meeting but that doesn't mean there's nothing that can be done. And, if it matters to you, get up and do something.

Finally, this signals the end-of-the year stampede that happens EVERY year with the district. They get all their pet projects in a row and rush them through, knowing that you will be distracted by the holidays.

Don't turn away or get distracted.

126 comments:

Sahila said...

I found a comment on the AFT facebook today, from the AFT, saying it supports TFA... here's the full comment, with the link:

AFT - American Federation of Teachers: "We support the recruitment efforts of Teach for America and Troops for Teachers. And like all teacher candidates, It is important that their candidates participate in high-quality preparation programs as well."


http://www.facebook.com/AFTunion

I dont know what the NEA stand is....

The First Arnold said...

Saying "NO" on the Levy is the only thing that will stop this. Or, will it?

I guess if everyone keeps saying TFA are "the best teachers", it becomes true.

Elizabeth Scheinberg said...

Trackback:
http://elizabethscheinberg.blogspot.com/2010/10/seattle-public-schools-community-blog.html

ParentofThree said...

First, as usual the districts reasoning for TFA in Seattle is flawed. And second, the funding needed to hire a TFA teacher is concerning.

But, I have to wonder how many TFA teachers will actually be working in our schools. Is there any way to find out how many teachers were given contracts during Phase III for the past two years. That would give a sense of how many TFAs would be extended contracts.

Also, I mentioned this the last time TFA was on this blog, could a TFA teacher be hired over a teacher that is in the district transfer category - you know the ones that are shuffled from school to school because they are ineffective teachers, but have union protection. Honestly, if a TFA teacher could help get rid of some of these lemons, I would support the program.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks for that Elizabeth. It seems our districts have a lot in common and somehow your district has empowered parents more in some ways. I'll have to get more reading in soon.

hschinske said...

Hello, economy? people out of work? absolute buyers' market for those looking to hire highly qualified individuals?

*head* *desk* *bang*

Helen Schinske

Melissa Westbrook said...

So Parent of Three,you would absolutely be okay with a TFA teacher for your own child? Just asking.

We just got a new teacher contract with evaluations all through it. We can't wait to see how that works? And bringing in TFA teachers will only muddy the waters because if, by some miracle, test scores go up, what can it be attributed to?

It's interesting to get dinged for "hurting the kids" for coming out against a levy and yet experimenting with a classroom is fine. Because yes, TFA teachers, each and every one of them, is an experiment. And just as we, as a country, didn't always tell people when they got used for experiments, I would be willing to bet that it isn't part of any TFA process that parents are notified.

And, in this case, I'm going with the KIPP guy who said you absolutely should be able to pick your child's teacher. I would not, especially for elementary, want a TFA teacher for my child.

dan dempsey said...

How interesting that inequity is a problem for which TfA is a proposed solution.

Really what has become of crappy instructional materials being a source of the inequity problem?

Just because the District appealed the Spector ruling hardly justifies the District's very little content instructional materials selections.

Check the pathetic math data from Cleveland (w/ two plan periods and lots of UW assistance) over the last several years since when only students with sophomore credits were counted as second year high school students and tested on the WASL and then HSPE annual test.

This is just another central admin try for a complete sham decision from the Board.

NO NO NO NO to this TfA crap.

Dorothy Neville said...

me"in 1997, Los Angeles tripled its hiring of elementary-school teachers following a state-mandated reduction in class size. If L.A. schools had been doing a good job of picking the best teachers among their applicants, then the average quality of new recruits should have gone down when they expanded their ranks—they were hiring from the same pool of applicants, but accepting candidates who would have been rejected in prior years. But as researchers Thomas Kane and Douglas Staiger found, the crop of new teachers didn't perform any worse than the teachers the school had hired in more selective years."

From Why are public schools so bad at hiring good instructors?

I doubt TFA does a better job at selecting the best teachers. Actually, they don't even say that, do they? They say they select for good leaders?

Chris said...

Furthermore, I heard the district people say at the
C & I meeting that they had neither funds nor staff bandwidth for innovation thru waivers from district-adopted materials. Not even a few schools. Yet they will find money for this kind of innovation? Can u say double-standard?

PS: if you want waivers, talk to your board member NOW.

Chris said...

And parent of 3, I will also pull out that argument they are using about 1098 - the camel's nose in the tent. All they need is a crack in the door to get in and escalate. Especially if test scores trigger turnarounds. We're gonna lose some um, whats your favorite expensive fruit? along with those lemons.

ParentofThree said...

If I had the choice between a teacher who should not be in a classroom, (and that has happened two to of my three children), then yes I would take the TFA over the district transfer teacher.

Most families have not had this experience. I am not talking about a teacher who is running out of steam, I am talking about abusive teachers, who do not loose their jobs becuase of seniority.

Again, how many Phase III teachers get hired each year? And if the union is concerned that TFA is slipping through the back door, first hired as a Phase III, then bumped up to a Phase II, then they should be very engaged in this proposal. I do not see that and am wondering why?

ParentofThree said...

I will give you another scenerio where I would take a TFA over a SPS teacher. I have a middler schooler trapped in that horrible CMP. The teacher is no help, refuses to supplement, but complains about the program.

If I knew that the TFA teacher was a math major - and "word on the playground" is that this TFA teacher was gonna dump CMP and use a tradional curriculum I would be the first to sign up!

seattle citizen said...

Just in time for halloween: It....is....aLIVE! It wants to suck your blood!
Let's get our butts down there on Wednesday. Bring the garlic, mirrors and the sunlight of rationality.

seattle citizen said...

That's great, Pof3: So a teacher with two decades of experience, who is handed a script and has little time to supplement, perhaps, and is vocally complaing about a bad program...You'd dump that teacher, perhaps allow them to be canned, because some math wiz with a couple weeks' training might do better (you wouldn't know, remember: There are about a zillion more aspects to teaching than just understanding of the subject matter. You would take a pig in a poke, disregard all the other qualities of an experienced teacher, just to take a chance on some reformist TFA shill who might be a horrible teacher in a zillion ways but knows math?

Out with the old, in with the new, eh? one would hope that current teachers hear you: They should NOT complain about curriculum, but slyly dump it for a bunch of supplements, all the while getting that Phd in math so they can compete with your new TFAer. Current teachers should watch their butts: The super-content-experts are coming!

Charlie Mas said...

Let's also remember that the abusive teacher who continues to be on staff isn't there thanks to seniority but thanks to ineffective principals.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Has anyone of the non-teachers who are hot for TFA ever tried to teach? I am an absolute expert in my field of publication design—30+ years experience, know the latest technology, etc.

I volunteered in my daughter's 5th grade class to help the kids develop a classroom publication. I spent hours developing a curriculum for this 4-week stint. I created handouts. I made it fun. We brainstormed masthead ideas, graphics, fonts, content. I thought it would be fun and relatively easy; the kids were all excited about it.

But you know what? I completely underestimated how difficult it was to keep 25 kids all paying attention to me at once—even when it was something fun. Thank heavens the classroom teacher was there to help keep the kids focused; it NEVER would have worked otherwise.

I don't see how an inexperienced teacher with only 5 weeks of training—expert in their field or not—would be an advantage. I think this would be especially true in a challenged classroom—one that has 30 kids of varying abilities and interest in school.

seattle citizen said...

Here are some select, uh, highlights of the contract, the EDUCATIONAL PROFESSIONAL SERVICES AGREEMENT:

Here's where the contract says TFAers will get their instructional materials:
"Teach For America shall facilitate Teacher access to an assortment of resources including sample lesson plans, assessments, grade tracking systems, and content area/grade level instructional materials."

Here's where SPS will give TFA student-identifiable data:
"Seattle Public Schools may disclose to Teach For America student identifiable data from individual Teachers...Teach For America may also disclose student identifiable information on behalf of Seattle Public Schools to additional parties, provided that Teach For America, in advance, provide to Seattle Public Schools the names of such parties and a brief description of such parties’ legitimate interest in receiving such information."

Here's where we learn it costs an extra $4000 a year to hire a TFA:
"With respect to each Teacher whose employment by Seattle Public Schools is to commence in the 2011-2012 academic year, Seattle Public Schools shall pay Teach For America an annual amount of $4,000 for each year in which such Teacher is employed by Seattle Public Schools, up to two years"

Here's where we learn the scope of the three year contract::
"20-25 district-wide K-12 Math, Science, Special Education, English Language Learner areas, Elementary, Middle, & High School"

Here's where we learn the Hiring Process:
"A. Hiring Process. Seattle Public Schools and Teach For America will collaborate in good faith to facilitate the efficient hiring of individual Teachers, in accordance with the district’s established hiring process.
i. This obligation will include, to the extent permissible and feasible, the use of specialized hiring practices such as hiring fairs and telephone interviews, to the extent used for all applicants.
ii. Seattle Public Schools and Teach For America will collaborate in good faith to identify individual schools within Seattle Public Schools appropriate for Teachers.
iii. In order to be considered an appropriate school (a “Partner School”) for placement of a Teacher, (i) the school’s student population must be considered high poverty relative to the student population elsewhere in the district. To the extent reasonably practicable, Seattle Public Schools will employ two or more Teachers per individual Partner School."

ParentofThree said...

A teacher with 20 years experience should know how to teach around a bad curriculum and have lots of materials ready to go.

Not sure why you are all blasting me for
1) Not wanting my children exposed to abusive teachers.
2) Wanting my children to have teachers who are willing to work around bad curriculum.

And all I have done is bring another point of view to think about.

Again, if TFA is so bad for our teachers...where is the union?
And how many TFAs are do we think SPS will be able to hire?

Is the sky really falling down?

seattle citizen said...

So I'm confused: These TFA hires are to be considered just plain teachers, along with other applicants, but they are identified as specializing teaching to specific, targeted populations. They can only go into some schools ("poor" schools - another instance of whole schools being identified as one thing or another....tragic...)

Here's some info from agenda item, contract, and state rules on emergency cert (the lind TFAers would get):

"From the Action Report, http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/10-11agendas/110310agenda/tfareport.pdf

"TFA seeks to place their corps members in those schools with an income-based achievement gap. More specifically, they seek to place corps members in the highest poverty, lowest-achieving schools—those same schools where it may be the most difficult for the district to staff "

we can link to the contract itself, http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/10-11agendas/110310agenda/tfacontract.pdf the Educational Porfessional Services Agreement.
"Teacher candidates will be hired for vacancies across the full range of grades and subject matters and not restricted or limited to so-called “critical” or “shortage” subjects or grade level vacancies."

Here's the definition of Emergency Certification from the state:
"Emergency Teacher Certificate:
...qualifies a teacher candidate for employment if the candidate has the appropriate degree and has substantially completed a teacher preparation program, but has not yet qualified for the Residency Certificate, if the school cannot find a regularly certificated teacher. The Emergency Certificate enables the teacher to be assigned for up to one school year."

Here, from the contract, is how the District will convince the state that it is, in fact, an emergency:
"C. i. Seattle Public Schools agrees to request conditional certificates for all Teach For America corps members on the grounds that circumstances warrant the issuance of such certificates, as permitted by WAC 181.79A.231. Specifically, the circumstance which warrants the issuance of the conditional certificate is the district’s commitment to partnering with Teach For America as one of the strategies the district is employing to address the achievement gap."

So the emergency is that the state partnered with TFA? Or is the emergency the achievement gap itself? How has the district analyzed this emergency and determined that plaing TFA in just some, specific schools will help, as opposed to locating struggling students everywhere and helping them as individuals? How has the district ascertained that an at-level, non-poor student in a "poor" school will benefit, and not be harmed, by a teacher trained specifically to teach to poor students?

Here's what the contract says about the TFA teachers, in the second paragraph, the rationale before the nuts n' bolts section:

"Teach For America is a national leader in recruiting...individuals committed to closing the achievement gap by serving as effective classroom teachers specifically equipped to enhance student achievement in under-resourced school systems. Seattle Public Schools seeks to recruit new teachers who are trained to lead students to academic achievement and to equip said teachers with ongoing professional development and support to further develop and sustain their professional practice."

Umm, isn't this what one would expect from SOS for ALL teachers? Or are TFA teachers somehow different, we need that particular brand, with its own instructional materials and everything!

seattle citizen said...

Pof3, it's principal, and also the "foot in the door." If TFA gets an opening, you can be sure it will wedge the door open. If we accept five weeks training, if we accept this obviously reformist ploy to weaken the profession (and perhaps the union) then we open the door.

As to your child and abusive teachers...Why would a TFA teacher be a guarantee against abuse? I don't get it, human is human - good teachers everywhere, bad teachers everywhere.

emeraldkity said...

I seriously do not understand the push for TFA.
Say we do have a shortage of people with education degrees who want to teach in Seattle ( although we don't)

The same certification process used to employ TFA staff could be used to hire the " consulting teachers" who are currently profs/etc at UW and who want to teach in Seattle schools, but who have been told they need to get an education degree.

What has SPS done to let these professionals know they are needed?

Have we made any attempt to hire them without the hoops ( and constricts) of TFA?

Let me guess.

Central Mom said...

I do not see where the district has engaged with parents. No CPPS, a well-regarded cross-city parent group. No PTSA. No community meeting(s) presenting the concept.

My question along with lack of parent engagement (after all, they will be teaching OUR students) follows Melissa's question, eg: there's a lot of crap er details that need fixing in the District. And we are about to embark on the detail-heavy NSAP Year II. Why is this a priority right now? Why is the District cramming this down our throats? Because, if it's something they dreamed up w/ the Seattle Foundation, agreed to on the side and are trying to rubberstamp it without true community engagement, I cry FOUL.

Central Mom said...

And I'm not saying I'm for or against TFA in Seattle. I am saying that this paternalism...this "we and the downtown business set know what is best for our kids" needs to STOP. There are many opinions in this District outside of the Alliance and now Seattle Foundation. Take a moment to stop cutting side deals (calling your buddies at Stand for Children/LEV/Alliance...whose individuals often belong to all 3 groups) and really reach out.

Edvocate said...

Phase I: all internal teachers apply for positions, interview, and are selected by schools.

Phase II: All super-seniority placements are made.

Phase III: New teachers are considered, as well as current SPS teachers remaining in the displaced pool.

During Phase III only new teachers and teachers remaining in the displaced pool are considered. That would be who TFA teachers would compete with.

What I want to know is what teachers make up the displaced pool?

When I've volunteered on my kids schools BLT's, hiring committees, and Site councils, administration always worked as hard as they could to hire teachers during phase I so they could avoid a teacher from the dreaded displaced pool at all costs. This was the unanimous opinion of administration at all three schools that I volunteered at.

Teachers in the displaced pool were thought of as sub par by administration. They were often teachers who interviewed for positions during Phase I of the hiring process but were not selected. And they were often teachers who were not "fired" but were pressured out of their previous schools for one reason or another; continual parent complaints, poor reviews, a principal suggesting another school would be a better fit (not sure if this is what Parent of Three was referring to when she mentioned transfer teachers??)

I found this on the NCQt pdf that analyzed the new teachers contract

"Principals in all of the districts
in which we have worked
report that many teachers in
the displaced pool are subpar."

http://www.nctq.org/tr3/docs
/nctq_seattle_cba_analysis.pdf

Central Mom said...

And secondly, the devil with whether or not this is appropriate for Seattle is going to come down not just to timing, but to details. Where are the details? Where is the time to absorb the details?

I want to understand how this affects current out-of-a-job due to the economy District teachers.

I want to understand what the cost will be after the Seattle Foundation's initial $$ input.

I want to understand what talks have/haven't happened with the SEA.

I want to understand why this is on the agenda now and not at the start of the next school year.

I want to understand why placements would be in low-performing schools only. (On the surface it smacks of paternalism again.)

I want to understand the extent of TFA's training process.

I want to understand a whole lot more.

And also, no, it doesn't strike me on first take as OK that we're bringing in an organization whose CEO is making hundreds of thousands of dollars by extending TFAs reach. I don't believe that's how this organization originally started out. It leaves a very, very bad taste in my mouth which makes it difficult to be objective about the other details.

Kathy said...

"TFA requires a monetary fee for each TFA corps member who is hired by the district; should SPS hire any TFA corps members, the district will seek private funding for any district-required fee."

Melissa, Any idea of associated costs? What is Phase III hiring?

Our community has to atleast delay the vote for several months.

ParentofThree said...

Interesting story from the NYTs about teacher run schools:

"The Newark teachers are part of a growing experiment around the country to allow teachers to step up from the classroom and lead efforts to turn around struggling urban school systems."

"Teacher-run schools are spreading as many districts seek new ways to raise student achievement and compete more effectively against charter schools."

At the Newark school..."While they are in charge of disciplining and evaluating staff members, they plan to defer all decisions about curriculum, policies, hiring and the budget to a governance committee made up largely of teachers elected by colleagues."

"Teachers have more say over what they teach, and starting next year they will have more time to work with children when they introduce a longer day. "

"Teacher-run schools are spreading as many districts seek new ways to raise student achievement and compete more effectively against charter schools."

"This year, Los Angeles has turned over 29 city schools to groups of local teachers who worked with parents, administrators and union leaders to beat out established charter operators like Green Dot Public Schools."

And many of these teachers got their start in TFA.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/education/07teachers.html?_r=1&ref=teach_for_america

Wouldn't that just be ironic if SPS brings in TFA and they turn around and start teacher-run schools where teacher have a say in how and what they teach....maybe that is why the union is laying low on this?

Dorothy Neville said...

Po3 I am very sympathetic because m son had some crappy and abusive teachers. I wish I were confident the the district is moving in the right direction to get rid of them. Instead I see a combination of questionable tactics and pervasive priorities that make it more difficult to teach well (larger classes, fewer IAs, etc).

I don't see TFA being a help though. Sure, a specific TFA person could be better, but one never knows. Overall, there ought to be a BETTER way to get rid of those abusive teachers who just move from school to school. Charlie is right that the principals need to follow existing procedures more rigorously. (So what about the lack of principals contract, eh?)

As for MATH, well, you could have the same scenario without TFA in the discussion. What to do when one teacher in a building is much better at teaching math (or anything) especially when they are disobeying orders to do so? That is a HUGE and FRUSTRATING problem.

Perhaps a TFA young and earnest person could be better. But perhaps not.

I taught math for seven years. First three as a college TA when I was in grad school. Af first I stunk. I was horrible. The reviews were scathing. By year three the reviews had turned around and a typical one was "dump the prof and let the TA teach the class." Year four I taught regular college courses and got great reviews. I was then pretty good when I taught high school, but that included a learning curve as well how to deal with younger teens. As Solvay mentions, teaching elementary or middle school involves a whole lot of other leadership and management skills and wisdom.

Also, from reading math wars blogs over the years, I have run across some TFA teachers absolutely PRO inquiry based math and dumping horribly on the traditional math camp. So you just never know.

YES, getting rid of abusive teachers should be a priority. YES encouraging and supporting better teaching instead of focusing on fidelity of a particular lesson should be a priority. Those are not the same thing as supporting TFA. But I do understand your frustration as to thinking or hoping this could be a help. I am skeptical.

Hawk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bird said...

And how many TFAs are do we think SPS will be able to hire?

Well, according to the contract they are committed to hiring 20-25 TFA teachers and may hire more.

With the $4000 a year fee that's a good $100K or so a year for the privilege of hiring under-qualified, inexperienced teachers that highly unlikely to make it past year three of teaching. Oh, and we are going to be sure to send them to the schools with the lowest achievement levels just to make the proposal all the more ridiculous.

This really isn't something the district needs, or, frankly, can afford.

I understand your concern, ParentofThree, about your child having a lemon for a teacher, but there is no reason that that teacher can't be replaced with a competent, experienced teacher with real credentials at Phase III hiring. You don't need TFA and their associated fees to get the results you seek.

Honestly, this doesn't seem like a benefit to anyone but TFA and their candidates. It's not a good deal for the district. If anything, TFA should be paying the district as the benefits all run in their direction.

This proposal only makes sense if you are a Superintendent who wants to generate some political capital before heading off to a new position the education establishment. It doesn't make sense as proposal in the best interests of the district.

I would hope that the Board could see this and do their job by providing the necessary oversight for such proposals.

Just because Goodloe-Johnson asks for it doesn't mean that it makes any sense or that it is good for students. The Board should show some spine and say no.

another mom said...

The resolution details does not say that the district engaged with the groups listed only that TFA engaged with LEV, Stand for Children, etc.

The questions for me are:
1. where is the money to pay the $4000 per candidate?

Didn't Melissa state somewhere that DeBell said they are looking at bringing 25 TFA'ers. $4000x25= $100,000. Seems like a lot of money when the district is screaming that they need a supplemental levy.

2. which University will be supporting their grad school work and on who's dime and will they be displacing qualified grad school candidates that live in state?

If the UW or any state institution is waiving fees and tuition, then WA state taxpayers are essentially supporting their entire two year graduate program. This at a time when the UW's budget has been cut and tuition raised. It raises my eyebrows. Even if it is only 25 candidates, when kids -my own included- are incurring student loan debt, this just stinks.

3. is this a long term sustainable expense?

Sure, and I have a bridge in Arizona to see you.

My guess is that this is one of those expenses that will come out of the supplemental levy.

Sahila said...

You waste your time asking why and why now...

Look at the deform agenda and its implementation... its all following the same pattern...

more standardised testing via NWEA/MAP, NSAP, Performance Evaluations and Merit Pay via MAP, TFA and charter pushing coming in hand-in-hand... we will have TFAs here in the city in time for the first charter schools to open in oh, about six months time, in previously public school buildings...

I dont know why you are all shocked, surprised, bewildered, asking why this and why now... its the next step in the plan.... and we are not part of the plan.... nor are our children... except as cash cows...

ParentofThree said...

Thank you Hawk.

If you all reread my initial post I said SPS reasoning to bring in TFA is flawed and the expense associated with them is a concern.

I then asked how many TFA teachers are we really talking about? And could TFAs help to eliminate district transfers who as EmeraldCity states are the ones you try to avoid by trying to fill all your positions in Phase I.

Finally, I found an article about Teacher Run schools, who have a lot of TFA alum behind them. I think schools like this could have some merit...and I LOVE the fact that LA is using them to run out Green Dot.

I am just trying to look at the bigger picture and be realistic about where this is headed. With a rubber-stamping board we are going to have TFA here, probably next year.

How can we work it to our advantage?

Hawk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Some Clarity said...

@Another Mom: "which University will be supporting their grad school work and on who's dime and will they be displacing qualified grad school candidates that live in state?"

Teach For America Teachers receive the Americorps Stipend, just over $5,000, each year that they can apply towards continuing or existing educational expenses. Most corps members use their award towards required university course-work. This would be the case here in Puget Sound.

Seattle-Ed2010 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seattle-Ed2010 said...

Where's the money for TFA likely to come from?
My guess would be the Gates Foundation. (Gates gave AFT a bunch of money earlier this year for its conference here in Seattle, and lo and behold, he was their keynote speaker! So now AFT supports TFA, which I'm pretty sure Gates supports too.

See here: Why did AFT invite ‘Bill the teacher-basher’ to address a national conference of its teachers? Perhaps this has something to do with it. In July 2010, the Gates Foundation gave the AFT $3.4 million to push for “teacher quality initiatives,” and another “$217,200” in June for “conference support.”

Or maybe the Broad Foundation will award a random grant to SPS to foot the bill.

Which university would support TFA?
Here's a clue: Remember the op-ed by the Dean of the School of Education at U.W. Seattle, Tom Stritikus, who also happens to be a TFA corps member, and happens to mention TFA?
Either U.W. Seattle or U.W. Bothell and its pro-reform Center for Reinventing Education, would be my guess.

By the way, KIPP evolved out of TFA. The KIPP CEO (Barth) is married to the TFA founder (Kopp). Both are board members of the Broad Foundation, which trained Seattle Supt. Goodloe-Johnson. Barth was in town this past money pitching his KIPP product. The superintendent puts TFA back on the school board agenda the following week. It's not hard to connect the dots on this one.
Goodloe-Johnson is pushing the Broad reform agenda and the products of all her pals at Broad.

From the Washington Post:
Many KIPP teachers are selected from among the most successful veterans of those two-year Teach for America enlistments. KIPP founders Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg began in Teach for America. Barth, the KIPP Foundation CEO, helped start Teach for America and is married to its founder, Wendy Kopp.

Where's the parent, teacher, or community input on any of this?

I agree: yet another reason to vote No on the levy.

--sp.

Central Mom said...

Here is the official School Board's Parent Policy. I've boldfaced what is striking to me in terms of lack of engagement on TFA (most recent example out of many).

It is the policy of the Seattle School Board to encourage and support family involvement in education, at home, our schools and communities, and in school governance. The Board recognizes the diversity of family structures, circumstances, and cultural backgrounds and respects families as important decision-makers for their children's education. The Board is committeted to the creating and implementation of culturally inclusive and effective school-family partnerships throughout the School District and in each school, and believes these partnerships to be critical to the success of every student.

to be continued...

Hawk said...

Reposting because I think I was to harsh in my last post.

PO3 said "Not sure why you are all blasting me"

I'm not in favor of TFA myself, but I AM in in favor of listening to parents ideas and concerns, whether I agree with them or not.

In shutting out the voice of a parent, or community member, by aggressively blasting them out of a conversation, you are doing exactly what MGJ does: shut public engagement down.

Who wants to contribute to this blog when it has such a hostile environment? I'll tell you who; only those who tow the party line. Nobody else. Is that really what you want? Is that a healthy forum?

Open your minds, folks.

Sahila said...

Some Clarity - so TFA "teachers" cost the District $4K each in a placement fee, are paid salaries of around $52K plus benefits for the 2 years they commit to, get a $5,000 stipend towards further study... and often get their student loans forgiven... not a bad deal, eh?

I think its very attractive for young people graduating with a bachelor's degree with no job to go to and having to figure out where to find the money to fund a roof over their heads and food on the table... and all that altruism looks good on a resume... yep, a good deal....

Hawk said...

This thread now has 41 posts, and only one poster, PO3, challenged the party line by suggesting that there could be some positives in hiring TFA teachers.

And it's not because nobody else shares her opinion either, it's because people have given up posting anything for fear of instant blasting.

Does that seem like a well rounded conversation to you?

Central Mom said...

So now let's look at Parent Engagement in conjunction with this proposal. The only family-oriented group mentioned...is "connected with various PTA representatives" and you know what that sounds like to me? Coffee with about 3-like-minded people in the PTA structure. That isn't proper engagement.

They also mention "connected with" for the WEA and SEA (teacher's unions). Again, that sounds like coffee, not formal discussions. AND those are not parents.

Now let's look at all the rest of these folks:

The Alliance= Downtown Business Support

Stand for the Children=Self-Proclaimed Ed-Reform PAC...local affiliation w/ national group

League of Women Voters=civic policy organization

Washington Policy Center= conservative think tank

Partnership for Learning= ANOTHER ed reform group w/ downtown business backing

The STEM Center = huh? I think they mean Washington STEM and if so, then it is realllly disingenous, because it is a split-off of Partnership for Learning.

the Technology Alliance = tech entrepreneurs and business folks


These are all fine groups, with their own agendas. (Although an unsettling number have the same agenda.) But, again, NO PARENT INPUT. This is crap, pure and simple. For the most part these are MGJ's Seattle Buddies and Backers.

I note that "in the coming weeks" after they've got it on the docket for an official vote, the staff intends to get out and meet with Campaña Quetzal, the Urban League, and El Centro de le Raza. At least these are community organizations of color (unlike the decidedly non-diverse makeup of the above groups). And, these are a little closer to being family/parent organizations. But I find the way they are being "included" to be pretty darn late in the game. And again, what happened to 1) Community Meetings for Discussion, 2) Official PTSA presentations and 3) CPPS. (Oh, I remember, CPPS presented the superintendent w/ damming feedback from the community last spring.)

Central Mom said...

Hawk: I support hearing the pros and cons of TFA. So please post away and skip over comments that make you feel unwelcome. You are.

As I mention twice above, it is not TFA that I am angry about. It is about the fake/no process route re: parent input that the District under MGJ insists on taking to get pet items passed. It makes me crazy-mad. Her pet items are generally ed-reform items. That does not mean I am anti-ed reform in general. It's a big wide conversation with many subpoints.

But I WILL blast the District for their disingenous community engagement. If something's worth changing then get everyone involved at the outset w/ opinion-gathering...not just the Downtown Business Folks with Money to Back Reform. We the community -- parents, taxpayers -- are committed to our schools and will be involved with them LLLLOOONNNNGGGG after MGJ hits the road. Therefore we deserve, no DEMAND, to be included early in the game in shaping District policies and directions.

seattle citizen said...

C'mon, Hawk, no need to resort to the "ooh, those people are so mean an irrational that they won't allow rational conversation!" line. This is a common tactic: Don't argue points but merely question the rationality or niceness of one's opponents.

I've seen this lately from a few posters, and I suspect it is this diversionary tactic.

People are afraid of being blasted? Guess we shouldn't have debates then, or discussions. Or candidates for office. People get animated when they argue points. Don't want animation? Don't argue.

The "ooh, you're so mean and you attack people!" stuff is just diversionary, an attempt to make this discussion board seem radical, when it's actually composed of all sorts of viewpoints.

The First Arnold said...

No matter how much community input, this will pass. As long as we have the present mix of board members, community engagement is fake.

Still bet, it Levy fails- Bill Gates will be writing a check for TFA and infrastructure to link MAP to teacher evaluations.

Our public education systen is in the hands of politicians and wealthy- thanks to our Board of Directors.

seattle citizen said...

In the coming weeks "the staff intends to get out and meet with Campaña Quetzal, the Urban League, and El Centro de le Raza."

Ummm, will they get out and talk to ALL parents/guardians and other community groups? Or just those representing minority groups? I thought TFA was targeting POOR schools - Aren't there any non-minority poor families they could engage with?
Oh yeah, I forgot, Tim Burgess ("the brainchild of the LEV event") has aligned with the minority community and the business community through Our Schools Coalition. He (and by extension, the district) has little political use for actual poor people, it's the minority communities he needs to connect to. Of course.
Because it's not about poverty, it's about "unquality" teachers being racist and perpetuating the achievement gap, not about poverty perpetuating the achievement gap...

This is getting very confusing: the whole reform movement aims itself at minority communities (hence, the use of the achievement gap between minorities and whites to justify its very existence) but here the district is very specific in targeting poverty. So if it's the poverty that is an indicator, it's NOT the racist teachers?
I'm confused.

another mom said...

@ Some Clarity
Most Americorps members are only paid a very small stipend not a salary.I have personal knowledge of the stipend and it is tiny -so tiny that members qualify for food stamps. They do receive some medical benefits, although it is a major medical policy with a huge deductible. At least they get the medical benefit though. Their cash award is given only after they complete their service. TFA'ers are given a salary AND an Americorps award. It is a little different than a regular Americorps assignment...just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

An alternate voice: I am excited that TFA is hoping to come to Seattle. I will be writing Board members and urging them to vote to allow TFA presence.

I've read some of the research and it supports that TFA teachers have helped reduce the achievement gap in their classrooms and help their students make gains. TFA's way is just another way to climb the same mountain.

Although I differ with many of you, I wish you good luck and a happy Halloween.

from,

Pro-TFA

Seattle Parent said...

This is a re-post from Wen D on the same subject, from 10/05. I wonder how the same lawsuit issues apply to our district?

"Today the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California broke the law when it classified interns as "highly qualified" teachers and assigned them to schools in minority and low-income areas. The court ruled in favor of poor families who said the state was dumping unqualified teachers on their schools.

"A Bush administration policy adopted by California maintained that interns on track to receiving teacher's certification could count as highly qualified. But the court found that those policies violate the No Child Left Behind Law.

"Sixty-two percent of the interns teach in the poorest half of California schools and more than half of California's interns are teaching in schools that are at least 90 percent students of color.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

Have you been in touch with TFA reps to set a meeting or get questions answered?

SL

Central Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Central Mom said...

I am pretty sure it is the Seattle Foundation whom the District has proposed foot the initial bill, or part of the intitial bill. Again, a Downtown Biz philanthropy. Generous citizens, but not everyday parents or non-monied taxpayers. Same crossover as Alliance folks.

The Seattle Foundation is bringing Geoffrey Canada of The Harlem Zone and Waiting for Superman fame to lunch in Nov. The Ed Reform crowd is spending A LOT of money. Even more reason to solicit more voices...a diversity of voices who do not have $$$.

Seattle Parent said...

From the action report, as to which schools would "get" the TFA's:

"Seattle Public Schools has a number of schools that are not succeeding to the degree we would like, including three schools that are in the bottom 5% of schools statewide. These are the very schools where TFA corps members would apply for open positions."

Whih are the lucky 3? We know West Seattle Elementary already has TFA's. The other 2? Which other schools specifically "are not succeeding to the degree we would like"? Has the district notified these families about these changes? Will they have to disclose these target schools during open enrollment?

seattle citizen said...

From the Action Report on TFA: ""TFA seeks to place their corps members in those schools with an income-based achievement gap. More specifically, they seek to place corps members in the highest poverty, lowest-achieving schools—those same schools where it may be the most difficult for the district to staff"

Here's what the district says about TFA in the contract:
""Teach For America is a national leader in recruiting...individuals committed to closing the achievement gap by serving as effective classroom teachers specifically equipped to enhance student achievement in under-resourced school systems"

Here's the community engagement done by TFA (NOT by the district, and I, for one, would like to see documentation of the "extensive" outreach TFA has purportedly done):
"TFA has done extensive community outreach about coming to the Puget Sound region. They have engaged with Alliance for Education, League of Education Voters, League of Women Voters, Stand for Children, the Washington Policy Center, Partnership for Learning, the Technology Alliance, and the STEM Center. Furthermore, they have connected with representatives from PTSA, Seattle Education Association and the Washington Education Association and they will be meeting with other community representatives in the coming weeks, including leadership from Campaña Quetzal, the Urban League, and El Centro de le Raza."

So why, if SPS is targeting low income students, are they only meeting with minority groups? Isn't the mission to help ALL low income students?

This is one of the most poorly executed action items I have ever seen. There has been NO commnunity engagement by the district (only by TFA, the contractor! That's just funny!) and there will be none, except by TFA, meeting with just some groups but not with representatives of ALL poor children.

The action item appears to be pulled directly from TFA's website; indeed, I have found some similar phrasing between the two.

This is the most blatant move by the superintendent (and her handlers, chief among them Broad, Gates and Burgess) to advance an agenda that is not discussed, not proven, slippery in its targeted goals....

seattle citizen said...

Is this a sole-source contract? Where is the rationale for selecting this company? Did they do a RFP? Did they just decide one day, hey! TFA!

Does SPS have any data for its decision? Did they research various ways to do other recruitment?

No?

Hmmm....isn't that a prerequisite for a contract with public moneys?

peonypower said...

Why is the board bringing TFA up- well one of the board members said during a coffee chat that they thought that TFA should be in Seattle because Washington State college graduates who get into TFA cannot teach here, and that is what- sad, unfair? Not sure why that matters. I pointed out to him that if hyped up on social justice ivy league students want to become teachers they can. They can go through a teacher certificate program.

As to the purpose of TFA. It seems clear to me that the intention of TFA is not to identify and create a great corp of teachers, but to identify a corp of leaders. Many of the big names in education reform right now are former TFA teachers.

As to displaced teachers, there is a bias against displaced teachers whether or not they deserve it. Given how many schools have closed or moved in the past 2 years there are many displaced staff who are fine teachers who were potentially labeled "damaged goods" simply for having the bad luck to be working at a school that got closed. I notice no one is talking about the number of riffed teachers. I know lots of great new teachers who still don't have jobs, and the district says we need to sign an expensive contract to hire TFA candidates.

I do agree completely with those who say that bad teachers need to go, and as a teacher this is one of my greatest frustrations with how the teaching profession has allowed bad apples to impact the whole profession. One of the good things about the new contract is an unsatisfactory teacher will not be allowed to displace themselves (and ensure they have a job the next year.) I see this as a positive move.

As for the union the last word I had was that the union considered a TFA contract to be a violation of the CBA. I was assured by the executive director of the SEA that SEA was not working on an MOU with the district.

So if the district is insisting on a TFA contract despite possible legal action from SEA then this is purely a political move.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

peonypower,

I wouldn't assume anything about the SEA. Contact Olga, Jonathan, and Glenn and ask them questions. Keep asking until you (and the rest of us) get answers. Their silence on this issue is disturbing. I, too, have contacted the SEA, and the stock answer was that they were consulting with WEA lawyers. This isn't good enough. We have a right to know what the SEA position is on TFA.

Finally, if the SEA won't contact teachers about what is happening, then we should. Email every teacher you know about this.

Anonymous said...

As Eric Muhs and Inda Carlson can attest to, at the last coffee chat with Michael DeBell, Michael is clearly for bringing TFA to Seattle Schools, "...It would be a way for Washington graduates who join TFA to do their service [my words] without having to leave the state..." Don't lay this completely at the feet of Dr Goodloe-J. It is being driven as much by Michael DeBell (and most likely a majority of Board members).

I just met with Betty Patu and, after having met with a TFA regional officer ("...someone from California..."), Betty was charmed [my words] by the idea of having TFA in Seattle Schools. To be fair to her, she expressed to me many of the same concerns that people have commented here in this blog.

For what it's worth, Level 1, or Level 2 schools that do or would potentially qualify for SIG status, (like Hawthorne, Emerson, Rainier Beach High, W Seattle Elementary, Northgate, Van Asselt, et al) are probably the most likely targets for TFA recruits. State Law under 6696 allows the Superintendent the option to intervene and remove principal and staff.

For whatever reason that one argues Seattle Schools needs to be fixed, you're not going to solve this problem until you fix the system. And, this system is broken at every juncture: the Board, downtown Admin, School Admin, curriculum choices, BEX, ad infinitum! No one has the time nor resources to feel that they're in control of what's happening. Everybody, including members of the Board, seem to be 'out of breath' and simply reacting.

Don't start with ridding the schools of people until you have a system that allows people to be successful, in the classroom and downtown (I constantly hear from colleagues who visit downtown Admin that staff there are no more happy than staff at school sites.)

ken berry

mirmac1 said...

Maria Goodloe-Johnson to her Executive Management Team earlier this year:

"Some board members, community members and staff have been contacted by Elfie to meet and discuss TFA and their plans to start up in the Northwest. Myself and other staff have also met with them. The TFA is well known and hires and trains teachers to teach in Urban areas for two years. We are interested and believe that we could potentially have a partnership no earlier than Fall of 2011. While I understand the TFA is anxious to start the fall of 2010, we have several considerations. In our current School Improvement Grant work and performance management phase II we are pushing the unions and moving forward on many things that impact the contract i.e.: differentiated staffing, and pay. TFA awould also impact the contract and changes would have to be negotiated. We currently don't enough political capital or human capital to get this done well for 2010, but will seriously consider it for 2011. Dr. Brent Jones, Executive Director for HR is the point of contact for SPS, please contact him if you have any questions."

Teachers, will you allow your SEA leadership to give MGJ the "political capital" to bring these clowns to town? Shoot, she must feel her chances are good. She's moving up the timeline by six months.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

If Maria Goodloe-Johnson makes it known that she expects principals to hire Teach for America, Inc., "teachers" for open Phase III positions, guess what?

Email the Board. Email the SEA.

Sahila said...

Central Mom... you'll find that El Centro etc are under the Alliance for Education/Our Schools Coalition banner - OSC has been crowing about representing these groups... again, not true community engagement...

Melissa Westbrook said...

parent of three, said:
I am talking about abusive teachers, who do not loose their jobs becuase of seniority.

That is a principal issue. Teachers are not able to keep their jobs just for seniority. If your principal is aware of this situation and did nothing, well, do what everyone else is told to do: go to the Board. Bad teachers CAN be exited.

And yes, I'm sure a TFA teacher would know the difference between CMP and other supplemental materials with that whole 5 weeks of training.

And don't forget that in some TFA contracts, they can't be RIFed. So that young but experienced teacher you DO like will get canned over one of these first in the door TFA teachers. I'd be willing to say that comes next.

Parent of Three, where is the need for these teachers, throughout the district and not just your case, and where is the money to come from long-term? You tell me that and also why is this so important to concentrate on now?

It's another bullet point on her resume and another check on her ed reform "to do" list.

Also super-seniority is gone from the teachers contract (or so Olga Addae told me).

I posted that NY Times article weeks ago.

Americorps in the classroom would be better as they are AIDES, not teachers. It lowers the class size issue somewhat, provides help to the teacher AND helps a young person get the kind of training that TFA teachers SHOULD get.

By the way, TFA recruits "practice" their teaching skills during their training at summer skills. More experimenting on kids who need help.

And as for blasting, are we not adults? This isn't even face to face discussion and yet I'm to believe there are people out there reading but not posting because they are afraid? Halloween is tomorrow. I find it hard to believe that you can be an adult and not speak out.

One question pro-TFA; will a TFA teacher be at your school?

SL, I have talked with two former TFAers which I will write about in my TFA thread. I was going to talk to someone in their administration but frankly, probably not worth my time. But yes, they are all very sincere, very nice and very charming.

"Myself and the staff" - this is how the Super writes?

I go on record again and I will for every TFA post - the Superintendent lied at the coffee chat and there were others there who heard what she said. I'm sure she'll say either she didn't say it or she misspoke but I was clear in my question.

vitamincee said...

very, very troubling that they'd put inexperienced AFTs in our lower performing schools. someone's really, really, "drinking the koolaid!"

ParentofThree said...

"Bad teachers CAN be exited."

Not when the principal is scared of the teacher.

Go to your Board member? That is a LOL moment!

Trust me, there are situations where it is completely out of control, where the teacher holds all the power and not a damm thing can be done about it.

I know, I have been there and done that.

So, I stand by my position:

IF TFA teachers could be used to help elminate teachers who are abusive, I would support having them come to SPS. NOTE: "IF"!

vitamincee said...

oops meant TFAs not AFTs.

Anonymous said...

Maria Goodloe-Johnson is quite the politician. She needs to run for state office. She needs to get the hell out of managing our district.

"Last Straw And I Mean It"

seattle citizen said...

Pof3, it would be the same principal, regular teacher or TFA; either one could be bad or abusive, principal would still be "scared..." What's the difference, I don't get it.

You're just as likely to get an "abusive" teacher with TFA, and MORE likely to get a less qualified one, and absolutely sure to get one with much less experience...so THAT teacher, the TFA teacher, is "abusive" or whatever...same principal, so what's the difference?

As to the "going to the board" being a "LOL" moment...well, this a problem - doesn't help to just say to heck with boards, we'll bring in TFA, we'll bring in charters...This is a big deal. As I've argued elsewhere, public schools are predicated on ppublic boards - they're the accountable piece between you, other parents and taxpayers, and the school system. If we just throw up our hands and say "to heck with the board!" then we are open to such things as charters, to TFA...NON-accountable - They're not accountable to the taxpayer, they're not accountable to anyone.

Anonymous said...

PS: Can I say a** on this family-friendly blog? Because I am with Central Mom:

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT MY A**.

I am a parent who cares deeply. I volunteer. I pay hundreds of dollars to my school community. I write to my board members. Have I been solicited in any way about bringing TFA to town? NO! I don't belong to the special interest groups and PACs listed on the TFA backgrounder.

I know fantastic effective teachers laid off by the same crappy Weighted Student Staffing funding policies this superintendent put into place.

I WANT MY TEACHERS BACK. I WANT MY COUNSELORS BACK. I WANT MY INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANTS BACK.


Go stuff your TFA proposal into someplace also unmentionable on this blog.

Sign Me OUTRAGED

Bird said...

I've read some of the research and it supports that TFA teachers have helped reduce the achievement gap in their classrooms and help their students make gains.

Can you point us to this research, Pro-TFA

seattle citizen said...

And, Pro-TFA, where's the research that says that TFA teachers are needed? Can't other new teachers also show gains, if supported by their schools and district? Where's the research that says there is a huge crisis, Seattle can't hire enough teachers, Seattle has tried to hire its riffed teachers back (Including, I might add, the new teachers cut because they didn't have continuing contracts, they were too new - I'd take any of these back before I hired a TFA.)

seattle citizen said...

So I'm guessing I'll see many of you down at JSCEE Wednesday at 6:00? With signs? And all your friends?

Bird said...

As to the purpose of TFA. It seems clear to me that the intention of TFA is not to identify and create a great corp of teachers, but to identify a corp of leaders. Many of the big names in education reform right now are former TFA teachers.


This is my take away about TFA from their own PR as well. It's their "theory of change".

The structure of TFA, their origins, and their PR seem to point to me that they are more about benefiting their recruits than benefiting the kids in the classroom.

From the perspective of a parent on the ground, the program just makes no sense.

I wouldn't want my kid's school to be filled with idealistic but inexperienced teachers.

Honestly, I don't really want my kid in class taught by a first or second year teacher at all, TFA or no. Teaching is hard and I just don't think novices generally speaking any good.

I'm willing, of course, to take one for the team if I know that teacher's going to stay around and grow into the position. But to let my kid be taught by a complete rookie with only the hope that they go on to be some kind of "leader" in education sounds to me very much not worth my kid's or my kid's school's time.

Of course, no one's going to subject my kid's school to string of these teachers.

They'll stick them in the schools with the struggling students where they can do the most harm. Honestly, I love enthusiastic, idealistic, smart young people as much as the next person, but we have to use our heads here and do what's right for the kids in these schools.

Dora Taylor said...

"...It would be a way for Washington graduates who join TFA to do their service [my words] without having to leave the state..."

How lame is that!? And this from our school board president?! Sounds like the Kool Aid got passed out at the last board retreat by the Broad Foundation rep who attended to help the board with their "vision".

Their vision has gotten very blurry recently from the Broad Kool-Aid.

What I don't understand is why our supe is putting the cart in front of the horse. First you get the charter schools in and THEN you hire TFA recruits as your labor force. Remember, they're not union so they will be cheaper, at least to the charter schools, but not for the rest of us who would have to pay the $4 grand extra to have the "privilege" of having them here.

Oh please!

And churn baby churn. Two years and these young recruits are in and out. They get to say that they did their good deed for those poor little black children and then move on to their golden careers.

This truly outrages me.

So why do these low income students get un-certified, unprepared teachers? Didn't the supe have that other plan where teachers who teach in the "low-performing" schools get paid an additional stipend?

I see this as paternalistic and racist. Don't all students deserve teacher who will stay the course with them and make a commitment to the school and community beyond a couple of years? Don't all students deserve prepared teachers who WANT to teach and see it as a life long commitment and career?

If this goes through, even though I am not crazy about lawsuits, I'd be the first person to suggest that a lawsuit similar to the one in California be pursued.

Dora Taylor said...

Oh yeah, and exactly what community involvement is the supe referring to?

I am on the PTSA list serv and, yes, the LEV list serv, and my feelers are always out when it pertains to education in Seattle and I never heard a word from any of these organizations about TFA or asking me my opinion.

This is a sleazy, but typical move, on the part of the supe to push through her ed reform agenda and follows the pattern of other Broad grads. Case in point is the Emergency Financial Officer that was placed in Detroit by way of the governor. A Broad grad that did some outrageous things.

See:

Bob Bobb: The Sad Saga Continues

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/robert-bobb-the-sad-saga-continues/

and

So Who Will Take Over DC Schools? (My Huffington Post post)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dora-taylor/so-who-will-take-over-the_b_761412.html

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dora, some TFA teachers join the union (and some have to). I'd have to see their MOU and/or the SEA contract. I have a hard time understanding why the union, when they knew during negotiations, would have not had their radar on this once it was mentioned.

Dora Taylor said...

And another thing!

I'm on a roll now.

This TFA thing has really p--- me off.

The ed reform movement from the Broad Foundation, who deems dealing with parents "messy", to Arne Duncan, Gates and the other big money folks who think that ed reform is the cat's meow, no one ever involves the parents in any of the conversation.

That's why Parents Across America evolved.

See: Parents Across America on Seattle Ed 2010

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/parents-across-america/

Teachers and parents have been left out of this conversation from day one and we need to demand to be heard.

For anyone who is interested, we are having a Parents Across America, Seattle meeting this Saturday at 3:00 PM in my studio space in the International District. The address is 601 South King Street, on the corner of 6th and King.

You can e-mail me at dora.taylor@gmail.com for more information.

Dora Taylor said...

See the policy brief:

Teach For America:
A Review of the Evidence

"The question for most districts, however, is whether TFA teachers do as well as or
better than credentialed non-TFA teachers with whom school districts aim to staff
their schools. On this question, studies indicate that the students of novice TFA
teachers perform significantly less well in reading and mathematics than those of
credentialed beginning teachers."

http://www.greatlakescenter.org/docs/Policy_Briefs/Heilig_TeachForAmerica.pdf

Frederika Jenner said...

"Just in time for halloween: It..is..aLIVE! It wants to suck your blood! Let's get our butts down there on Wednesday. Bring the garlic, mirrors and the sunlight of rationality."

This is perfect, and I wish that I had known that TFA was making in-roads into Delaware before they got their fangs into our legislators and my former superintendent signed a contract for a three-year gig with TFA. I would have been down there lobbying our legislature not to pass changes in the teacher licensing laws that then allowed TFA into our schools. By the end of next school year, my district will have paid an additional $240,000 for the privilege of hiring a total of twelve TFA corps members to work in our schools. Meanwhile the TFAers each get a full teacher salary and full teacher benefits, as well as a free masters degree in educational leadership--NOT A TEACHING DEGREE--and a handy $8500 stipend at the end of their two years to further their educations. And, what do we get? We get twelve inexperienced, untrained, uncertified, unqualified college graduates to teach our students when we don't even have a teacher shortage. And, 12 out-of-work or newly graduated teachers do not get a job, and my PROFESSION takes another hit. I am profoundly concerned about the deprofessionalization of teaching--my own 38-year career-choice and profession. It is not a job that can be done well by just anyone.

We got snookered. Do not let it happen to your schools.

Dora Taylor said...

Intern Teachers Not “Highly Qualified,” Says 9th Circuit
Agrees that major loophole defies will of Congress, harms students

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — In a decision of national importance for the nation's public schools, a federal appeals panel today agreed with low-income students and community organizations that teachers still in training are not "highly qualified" under federal education law. The effect of the decision is that teachers in training must be fairly spread across classrooms, and parents notified when their student has one of these teachers.

http://www.publicadvocates.org/news/documents/Education/Renee_Reversal_Release_092710FIN.pdf

Dora Taylor said...

Court Curbs U.S. Rule on Alternative Certification

"In adopting NCLB, Congress decided that teachers with 'full State certification' are, in the aggregate, better teachers than those without such certification," Judge Fletcher wrote. "We recognize that it is debatable whether Congress was correct in deciding that
teachers with 'full State certification' are in fact better than teachers without such certification."

"This is especially debatable if many of the interns come from programs such as Teach for America, the judge said. But the disparate assignment of teachers without full state certification to minority classrooms means the plaintiff families have suffered "injuries in fact" that give them standing to sue, Judge Fletcher said."

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/school_law/2010/09/federal_highly_qualified_teach.html

mirmac1 said...

Well sounds like the Courts are on our side....

But that never stopped the district and its blunders before!

Dora Taylor said...

Melissa,

Some TFA recruits might have to be in a union although I have not come across that but that still is the big draw for charter schools, is that TFA recruits are not unionized and therefore are less expensive.

It's all about profit with these charter schools.

Also, these charter schools have to show fairly good test scores to contimue receiving funding. How many dedicated and talented teachers do you know that want to follow formulaic lessons that simply teach to a test?

Get a kid right out of college who doesn't know any better instead. They'll do whatever you want them to do.

Dora Taylor said...

Oh yeah, and about SEA.

There was a teeny tiny line in SERVE about bringing in TFA which I testified on at a board meeting. You can see that on you tube.

http://www.youtube.com/user/auntyBROAD#p/u/14/HbJk2_NoS8U

It's my understanding that TFA is still on the table with SEA and that nothing has been decided on that but let's get that officially from a SEA rep. It's not my place to speak for them.

mirmac1 said...

Hi Frederika Jenner from Delaware! I see we have alot in common (unfortunately).

I especially want to note that the Christina School District in Delaware and the Seattle School District are especially lucky to have: 1) been blessed with Broad Superintendents (doctors at that!); 2) both had Superintendents that could multitask as NWEA Board members; and 3) doled out those highly efficient and cost-effective (NOT!) sole-source contracts to consultants, PR firms, software vendors, etc.

Keep up the good fight, Frederika.

karyn king said...

@Po3 IF TFA teachers could be used to help elminate teachers who are abusive, I would support having them come to SPS. NOTE: "IF"!

What possible hope do you have that there would be a correlation between TFA's being hired and just the "abusive" teacher being replaced? If the teacher is as firmly entrenched in his/her position as you say, that person would still be there if the prinicpal doesn't do his/her job.

As a citizen, I am offended that the Board, who has done precious little (nothing) in terms of attracting quality recruits, would pay $4000 per year per TFA for the privilege of putting a 22 year-old with 5 weeks of training when there are any number of quality graduates with teaching credential living in our fair city. Why not give that $4000 as a bonus to real teachers, not potential teachers?

As a parent, I would refuse to entrust my child to someone untested by a year of observation and student teaching. No 5-week program, not matter how well-designed, can equip someone to be a teacher. No new graduate, no matter how well-intentioned, can be called "highly qualified." It is not a camp counselor position. I want a highly-qualified teacher in every classroom.

But most of all, as a human being I am offended that the Board would make Seattle students who most need excellent teachers the subjects of this profit-driven experiment.

If this hair-brained idea goes through, there should be a parent/teacher/student boycott!

Dora Taylor said...

Oops. This is the link to my testimony on you tube about TFA.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbJk2_NoS8U

Patrick said...

Parent of Three, I don't see how TFA addresses the problem of abusive teachers. If there are abusive teachers, and the principal is too lazy or incompetent to go through the process of getting them fired, that doesn't mean that TFA teachers could automatically replace them without going through the same process.

As far as I can see, TFA's purpose is letting future politicians put "teacher" on their resume for the next 40 years without going through all the bother of getting a teaching credential or being in the job for the long haul.

Dora Taylor said...

Here's one for the Kipper:


Bronx charter school spent thousands on staff retreats

Sahila said...

here's the link to the Kipp story Dora referenced:
Bronx Charter School Spending Spree

Sahila said...

Here's another really horrible audit of a charter school...
Western NY Maritime

and here's the link to a story covering this and several others - click on the live links for the details in each case, including the DOE's failure to hold charters accountable:

Charter school fault-finding Comptroller challenged by pro-reform, pro-charter GOP candidate

Hawk said...

"Here's another really horrible audit of a charter school..."

And we know about horrible audit don't we.....here in SPS, the land of publics.

Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black.

Sahila said...

With thanks to another parent for their hard work, some points you might like to include in any correspondence you have with the board on this issue:

"The superintendent's proposal conveniently ignores the latest findings on TFA available at Great Lakes Policy Brief on TFA

Here are the conclusions from the executive summary:

"The evidence suggests that districts may benefit from using TFA personnel to fill teacher shortages when the available labor pool consists of temporary or substitute teachers or other novice alternatively and provisionally certified teachers likely to leave in a few years.

Nevertheless, if educational leaders plan to use TFA teachers as a solution to the problem of shortages, they should be prepared for constant attrition and the associated costs of ongoing recruitment and training.

A district whose primary goal is to improve achievement should explore and fund other educational reform that may have more promise such as:
* universal preschool,
* mentoring programs pairing novice and expert teachers,
* elimination of tracking, and
* reduction in early grade class size."


Incidentally, this new research soundly debunks the two papers cited in the superintendent's proposal (noting that the Urban Institute one is not even peer reviewed). "

Sahila said...

56% of Teach for America teachers leave the profession within the first 2 years:

Harvard Report - Teach For America Teachers’ Careers: Whether, When, and Why They Leave Low-Income Schools and the Teaching Profession

tell me again - where is the benefit to our kids in spending all this money on TFAers?

none1111 said...

According to the proposed TFA contract, SPS will give student identifiable data to TFA. Not only that, but the contract explicitly allows TFA to pass along this data to third parties.

WTF are these people thinking?! Wasn't there enough backlash the last time information was passed out for the push-poll? This goes beyond that.

What is "student identifiable data"? Read carefully. According to FERPA;

FERPA 34 CFR 99.3
Personally Identifiable Information
The term includes, but is not limited to—
(a) The student's name;
(b) The name of the student's parent or other family members;
(c) The address of the student or student's family;
(d) A personal identifier, such as the student's social security number, student number, or biometric record;
(e) Other indirect identifiers, such as the student's date of birth, place of birth, and mother's maiden name;
(f) Other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty; or
(g) Information requested by a person who the educational agency or institution reasonably believes knows the identity of the student to whom the education record relates.
(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1232g)

So any and all of the above information can be passed along to TFA, who in turn can pass to other parties. All the parties need to do is say they have "legitimate interest" in receiving the data.

Exact wording in the contract, part II D, page 5, emphasis mine:

"ii. Pursuant to its obligations under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), Seattle Public Schools hereby acknowledges that in the course of providing on-going professional development services for the purposes of improving instruction, Seattle Public Schools may disclose to Teach For America student identifiable data from individual Teachers, pursuant to 34 CFR §99.31(a)(6)(i)(c).
iii. Teach For America shall use and maintain such data as provided in 34 CFR §99.31(a)(6). In accordance with 34 C.F.R. § 99.33(b), Teach For America may re-disclose student identifiable information on behalf of Seattle Public Schools as part of Teach For America’s service to Seattle Public Schools of providing on-going professional development services.
iv. In accordance with 34 CFR §99.31(a)(6), Teach For America may also disclose student identifiable information on behalf of Seattle Public Schools to additional parties, provided that Teach For America, in advance, provide to Seattle Public Schools the names of such parties and a brief description of such parties’ legitimate interest in receiving such information."

Everyone, this needs to get shut down right now. The board needs to get slapped upside their collective heads, big time. Melissa, this is buried within almost 100 general TFA comments, can it perhaps get its own post?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dora, that link to the California case may turn out to be quite useful. I'm thinking that the district - should they go this route - will be forced to put TFA teachers into the better performing schools.

Also, reading the TFA agreeement brings up some interesting thoughts but I need to check with someone with a legal background.

Hawk said...

Clearly in Seattle, there is no need whatsoever for TFA teachers. But we should recognize that other districts face different challenges and they may need them.

Many districts use TFA teachers to fill spots that couldn't be filled due to teacher shortages. TFA teachers are placed in classrooms that would otherwise have permanent, and revolving, subs. Is a permanent, revolving sub, better than a TFA teacher? If it were your kid, and you had to choose between the two, which would you choose? A permanent, revolving sub, or an ivy league educated TFA recruit with minimal teaching training?

While I think we should should tell MGJ and the board loud and clearly that we don't need or want TFA in our schools, we should also refrain from bashing TFA as an organization. Though we don't need them here, their services may be more than warranted in other districts.

And if you do feel that TFA as an organization is just pure evil, and their services are never warranted, then what is your solution for those districts (or schools) with teacher shortages?

Kathy said...

One word: Piaget

I suspect TFA's five week course fully addresses Piaget's work and relates it to classroom teachings.

I'm going outside. This link is a lot scarier than Halloween.

Again, we keep hearing TFA is the "best" teaching corp. Say it enough, and it becomes truth.

Gads....

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

Reposting, correcting date in link:

@ Hawk - there are no districts with teacher shortages... most districts/states have been laying off experienced, effective teachers by the thousands...

just look at this example from California:
Press Release, Layoffs 2010, California DOE

dan dempsey said...

Here is my letter to Director DeBell.

It contains a table from OSPI for 2009-2010 for teacher information in Seattle.

Of particular note is this:

Please refer to the following statistics provided by OSPI for 2009-2010 for the Seattle Schools if you care to explain why TfA teachers would be needed in low-income schools but not in other Seattle schools:

% of classes taught by teachers who do not meet NCLB HQ definition = 0.60%

% of classes in high poverty schools taught by teachers who do not meet NCLB HQ definition = 0.60%

% of classes in low poverty schools taught by teachers who do not meet NCLB HQ definition = 0.50%

------------------------------
I find it hard to believe that the TfA proposal is anything other than a further abdication of the District’s responsibilities under the state constitution to:

Make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.

Should this TfA proposal be approved by the Board please provide me a rationale for why such a decision should not be appealed in Superior Court.

none1111 said...

Melissa said: "Dora, that link to the California case may turn out to be quite useful. I'm thinking that the district - should they go this route - will be forced to put TFA teachers into the better performing schools. "

Where they'll likely to face more organized/effective opposition! The interesting thing is, if there was anywhere these types of teachers would fit in, it would be in a high-performing MS/HS (topic-specific classes) with motivated students and families. Not saying we want them here at all, but that would be least likely to cause damage. Of course that's not where they're headed for.

Also, I posted a long-ish comment earlier this morning about TFA getting personal student data, and it's gone now. Shall I repost, or did that get deleted or moved?

Kathy said...

None1111

Does TFA reallt get personal student data? If so, I would like to see the information.

seattle citizen said...

none111, I posted a section of the contract yesterday on TFA (and others) getting student data. Here's that section again:
Here (in the contract) is where SPS will give TFA student-identifiable data:
"Seattle Public Schools may disclose to Teach For America student identifiable data from individual Teachers...Teach For America may also disclose student identifiable information on behalf of Seattle Public Schools to additional parties, provided that Teach For America, in advance, provide to Seattle Public Schools the names of such parties and a brief description of such parties’ legitimate interest in receiving such information."

And we know this worked so well with student and teacher data being given to Schools First (or was it the Alliance? It's so hard to tell all these astroturf aroganizations apart) and THAT "coalition" giving the info to Our Schools Coalition, who then gave it to Strategies 360, a commercial enterprise, thereby breaking the law.

cascade said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle citizen said...

And you know that the only info TFA wants is a) student race or poverty categories; and b) whether student "achieved," using merely standardized tests scores, so TFA can further perpetuate the myth that only these test scores matter, they are the only indicators we need worry our pretty heads about...

While I am worried about student info being handed out willy-nilly, as has laready happened, I also worry that the student data is being used to further the diminishment of education by merely quantifying it as scores on bubble sheets, tied to "race" and "poverty."

Frederika said...

"Just in time for halloween: It..is..aLIVE! It wants to suck your blood! Let's get our butts down there on Wednesday. Bring the garlic, mirrors and the sunlight of rationality."

This is perfect, and I and other local union leaders wish that we had known that TFA was making in-roads into Delaware before they got their fangs into our legislators and my former superintendent signed a contract for a three-year gig with TFA. We would have been down there lobbying our legislature not to pass changes in the teacher licensing laws that then allowed TFA into our schools. By the end of next school year, my district will have paid an additional $240,000 for the privilege of hiring a total of twelve TFA corps members to work in our schools. Our local newspaper cats the TFA members as volunteers in our schools--nothing could be farther from the truth. Meanwhile the TFAers each get a full teacher salary and full teacher benefits, as well as a free masters degree in educational leadership--NOT A TEACHING DEGREE--and a handy $8500 stipend at the end of their two years to further their educations. And, what do we get? We get twelve inexperienced, untrained, uncertified, unqualified to teach college graduates to teach our students when we don't even have a teacher shortage. Plus we also get 12 out-of-work or newly graduated trained and licensed teachers who do not get a job, and my PROFESSION takes another hit. I am profoundly concerned about the deprofessionalization of teaching--my own 38-year career-choice and profession. Teaching is not a job that can be done well by just anyone.

We got snookered. Do not let it happen to your schools.

cascade said...

Sue Peters of Seattle Education 2010 just nationally broadcast the situation in Seattle, calling out our superintendent and her allies,in The Huffington Post.

She skewers what she says is circular thinking around charters and TFA. Lots of comments following the article.

So we are now in the national spotlight. The Board better understand this and gather a whale of a lot of feedback outside what is listed in the TFA proposal before moving forward. It's about to get ugly in town. Thanks a lot for putting politics before our kids' education Maria Goodloe-Johnson and Friends.

WV=whypold. I say "Why NOT polled?"

Melissa Westbrook said...

Cascade, we might see more of this. I have been in touch with some people at the Washington Post who are interested in our story.

peonypower said...

to LA teacherswarehouse
already contacted SEA- twice- and the only word I had been given was that legal is looking into it. Just heard via email this morning that the SEA vice president J. Knapp does not think there is a legal issue. So the only way to stop this would be to protest. depressing, very depressing.

none1111 said...

3rd try. Posts are there, then gone. I'll try splitting it up.

According to the proposed TFA contract, SPS will give student identifiable data to TFA. Not only that, but the contract explicitly allows TFA to pass along this data to third (4th!) parties.

WTF are these people thinking?! Wasn't there enough backlash the last time information was passed out for the push-poll? This goes beyond that.

What is "student identifiable data"? Read carefully. According to FERPA;

FERPA 34 CFR 99.3
Personally Identifiable Information
The term includes, but is not limited to—
(a) The student's name;
(b) The name of the student's parent or other family members;
(c) The address of the student or student's family;
(d) A personal identifier, such as the student's social security number, student number, or biometric record;
(e) Other indirect identifiers, such as the student's date of birth, place of birth, and mother's maiden name;
(f) Other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty; or
(g) Information requested by a person who the educational agency or institution reasonably believes knows the identity of the student to whom the education record relates.
(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1232g)

So any and all of the above information can be passed along to TFA, who in turn can pass to other parties. All the 3rd parties need to do is say they have "legitimate interest" in receiving the data. Whatever that means.

none1111 said...

Continued.

Exact wording in the contract, part II D, page 5, emphasis mine:

"ii. Pursuant to its obligations under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), Seattle Public Schools hereby acknowledges that in the course of providing on-going professional development services for the purposes of improving instruction, Seattle Public Schools may disclose to Teach For America student identifiable data from individual Teachers, pursuant to 34 CFR §99.31(a)(6)(i)(c).
iii. Teach For America shall use and maintain such data as provided in 34 CFR §99.31(a)(6). In accordance with 34 C.F.R. § 99.33(b), Teach For America may re-disclose student identifiable information on behalf of Seattle Public Schools as part of Teach For America’s service to Seattle Public Schools of providing on-going professional development services.
iv. In accordance with 34 CFR §99.31(a)(6), Teach For America may also disclose student identifiable information on behalf of Seattle Public Schools to additional parties, provided that Teach For America, in advance, provide to Seattle Public Schools the names of such parties and a brief description of such parties’ legitimate interest in receiving such information."

Everyone, this needs to get shut down right now. The board needs to get slapped upside their collective heads, big time. Melissa, this is buried within over 100 comments, and it's somewhat distinct from the general TFA issue. Could it perhaps get its own post?

Melissa Westbrook said...

None, for some reason a number of your posts and Seattle Citizen posts got into the spam box. I went in and put through most of them. Sorry, Charlie and I have no control over the spam controls.

cascade said...

Looks like Seattle is now making its case known on that East Coast school board blog, too. I saw there was a trackback to this thread so I went to look and then I found this plea for resources to move our superintendent out of town.

I found the comment funny, sad and most of all, telling: It looks like some Seattle citizens are wising up. This is the 2nd national critical spotlight piece on Seattle in one holiday weekend.

Sahila said...

I have been posting Seattle info on at least 7 facebook pages belonging to various groups fighting ed deform around the country, as well as on the AFT and NEA pages...

These groups include: Parents Across America, Teachers' Letter to Obama, Uniting 4 Kids, Support Public Schools, SOS Million Teachers March, Parents & Kids Against Standardised Testing,

There are a lot of very, very unhappy people out there who do not like where this ed deform agenda is taking this country and our children... and they are working to form one umbrella organisation to concentrate the power of "No" and to reach critical mass...

SEA has kicked me off its facebook page for asking why its going along to get along with MGJ and her agenda...

I am co-admin of a page that was created to counter NBC's Education Nation deform propaganda extravaganza:

Miseducation Nation

You might like to go and check out some of these groups.... the issues everywhere are the same, the MO is the same... and people are starting to wake up...

Sahila said...

Another group, closer to home, working against the deform agenda...

Kennewick School District Citizens

Time to be sleepless in Seattle....

wseadawg said...

Who couldn't be great by giving your life to teaching if you only had to do it for 2 years? Probably a lot of people. Despite the "ivy league" status symbols, TFA grads don't outperform new teachers from Ed Colleges overall, and aren't around long enough to judge their overall competency or effectiveness. "2 ya & screw ya" used to be a slogan for ROTC guys. Now it fits TFA pretty well too. Lest we forget, Ivy Leaguers, Oxford alumns & U of Chicago grads, brought us the Wall Street Meltdown & 2 unwinnable wars, while not earning an honest dollar or pound in generations.

Bird & others are dead-on in stating that TFA is basically a system that recruits and form Ed Reform idealogues, who then move into positions of power and influence in think tanks and school systems. It's a Coup d'etat to privatize and de-democratize public educaction, once again, just like ENRON did to the power grid.

And folks like DeBell & the Astro Turfers are all for it, of course, because you can't tell a person who derives benefit and comfort from any system that there's anything wrong with that system. It works for me? What's your problem?

Paternalism by the wealthy and well-connected, once again, as we, the peasants fight amongst each other for the crumbs. Anything new here?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Maureen said...

TFA Alum, Thank you for joining the discussion, I'm sure your perspective will be very valuable.

I have signed up to testify on Wed. night. If I get a spot, I will probably spend at least some of my time asking the Board not to adopt TFA. I keep coming back to the point that Melissa has made repeatedly--What is the problem we are trying to solve with TFA?

I have read Relentless Pursuit by Donna Foote. I understand from that that some LA High Schools commonly staffed classrooms with a revolving door of uncaring, uncertificated subs. The TFA Corps Members were a tremendous improvement for those schools. It was worth putting up with their on the job training because most of them could be counted on to show up every day and they clearly cared about the kids' success.

Seattle does not face the same challenges LA does. You probably are correct in thinking that SPS does not do a great job of recruiting bilingual and teachers of color. Is that the problem we are trying to solve? IS TFA the best solution to that problem? There is no evidence that SPS ever looked into any other solution. I absolutely cannot believe that TFA is the best solution to finding teachers qualified to work with special needs populations.

One of my major concerns about TFA is based on my own life experience (I know, anecdote-based analysis usually isn't the best!). In graduate school I taught applied statistics to the best and the brightest--exactly those kids TFA recruits. I can imagine that some of them had the potential to be excellent teachers. The major factor they were missing was that few of them had ever really failed at anything. They had no real perspective on what it is to struggle. I know I became a much better teacher after I failed. My concern is that we are inviting these TFA recruits to fail in front of our most challenged students. If the alternative was an uncertificated incompetent sub, then the risk would be worth taking. I just don't see that to be the case in Seattle.

If we do have uncertificated incompetent subs in those classrooms, then the principals are not doing their jobs, which means that the Ed Directors, and then the Superintendent are not doing their jobs. Is that the problem we are trying to solve with TFA?

Dora Taylor said...

Anonymous,

If you mean by "conventionally trained" a person who chooses to go to school, college, to study to become a teacher, the best that they can be because they decided to devote their life to teaching our children, to me that's a no-brainer. I would choose the teacher who is professionally trained and has chosen to take on the profession of teaching seriously and for the long haul.

We really don't need TFA in Seattle. We have plenty of solid, devoted individuals who want nothing more than to teach throughout their careers.

Thanks but no thanks TFA.

Bird said...

In districts that contract with TFA, whether or not to hire a particular TFA teacher is a principal’s choice. TFA teachers are members of the union, with no special rights.

I hear that TFA candidates will go through the same hiring process as all potential hires.

I hear that the fees for the TFA placement will be paid by a private donor.

If this is the case, why does the district require an agreement with TFA?

Why can't the district skip the contract and just let TFA'ers go through the normal interviews. The donor and TFA can have an agreement for the fees. Why does the district have to have an agreement at all?

I don't mean this as a rhetorical question. I really want to know.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Between my masters program and the professional development I attended as part of my TFA commitment, I found that I was much better supported and in most cases, better prepared, for the challenges of teaching in under-resourced schools than my traditionally-educated first-year peers."

What data do you base that statement on?

The majority of the teachers in Seattle schools are not trained to work with students with special needs (Sped, English Language Learners, or gifted), and in the worst cases do not see teaching these students as their job. There is a desperate need in Seattle schools for a serious discussion about equity, and if TFA can spur this conversation, then I welcome it. TFA also has a record of recruiting teachers of color and bilingual teachers, two areas in which there is a giant shortage in Seattle schools.

Kind of contradict yourself here. On the one hand you say that the majority of teachers aren't trained to teach special needs. I would be willing to be that is true of every single district in this country. Then you say, as if this solves the problem, that TFA recruits teachers of color/bilingual. So just because they are not white and/or are bilingual themselves that makes them ready to teach?

And sorry but Dr. Goodloe-Johnson says there is no shortage of teachers here.

TFA teachers are members of the union, with no special rights.

Well, in some districts they are. AT least one district had an agreement that TFA teachers could not be RIFed. I'd call that a special right.

"As a parent, given the choice between placing my child with a new TFA teacher and a new, conventionally-trained teacher, I would choose the TFA teacher. I would never say that all TFA teachers are better, but in general, TFA selects for smart, ambitious, academically-minded individuals."

That is certainly your right to make that statement (although good luck in SPS getting that choice). But let me just say I find it an arrogant and disrespectful statement. So the UW School of Ed doesn't have "smart, ambitious, academically-minded individuals." I think I might send your thoughts along to the Dean over there.

Jan said...

First, let me say that I do not favor signing a contract with TFA. We cannot afford them, and the reasons for their inclusion in the teaching pool (a lack of available teaching talent) do not exist in Seattle -- at all!

But that being said, I disagree strongly with many of wseadogs comments. First, the broadbrush painting of "Ivy Leaguers, Oxford grads, etc." is untrue and uncalled for. There are many many graduates of Ivy League schools (I don't know any Oxford grads, so I can't say there) who are just as upstanding, altruistic, progressive -- whatever adjective you want to use to describe "good folks" as opposed to all those greedy bad Wall Street types -- as whoever wseadog has in mind (UW and WSU education grads?) as the defining stereotype of "good."

I have watched the debacle of Ed Reform unfold for long enough now that I will not hazard a statement in defense of current TFA leadership. They may in fact be "Ed Reform [ideologues], who then move into positions of power and influence in think tanks and school systems." But I don't for a minute believe that that can be said for all of the college grads who sign up for TFA positions. We may decide that we don't need them, and/or that we cannot afford them. But I think that many of them are genuinely enthusiastic about the possibility of teaching as a lifetime career, and see TFA as a way to get good (we may disagree with their assessment) teacher training at less cost, and with less additional time commitment than through the traditional route.

Finally, another reason to say "no" to TFA here, now, (besides the glaring lack of any community involvement, which is huge) is that there is simply too much going on in SPS right now. We are in the middle of implementing the NSAP, which didn't go so well at LOTS of overcrowed or underenrolled schools; we have to do the transition plan. We have 5 new schools to grow. We need to get the waiver process up and going. They are trying to align (by which they mean standardize) the science and social studies curricula this year. There are huge budget cuts coming. How can they possibly want to take on another contract management issue, one that is divisive and expensive?

MGJ and the ed reformers always talk about wanting to model themselves after businesses. NO business allows its senior management to go in this many directions, willy nilly, at one time, without direction, without accountability, and without any thought to the effect at the "retail/customer" level. ANY board of a business would have fired MGJ long ago for the kind of mismanagement she is perpetrating. They need to tell her to STOP and focus on fixing, completing, etc. the myriad of half baked, poorly managed and implemented things she has already started.

Maureen said...

They are trying to align (by which they mean standardize) the science and social studies curricula this year.

That reminds me: One of the benefits TFA provides its corps members is lesson plans based on their own curriculum (the TFA web site says they provide lesson plans and that TFA testimonial said that they didn't use the curriculum of the school district they were teaching in). How does that fit with SPS' drive toward aligning curriculum? Do TFA's get trained in EDM/CMP2/Discovering. If not, why is it so important for certificated teachers to spend PD time on that?

none1111 said...

Maureen pointed out: "One of the benefits TFA provides its corps members is lesson plans based on their own curriculum (the TFA web site says they provide lesson plans and that TFA testimonial said that they didn't use the curriculum of the school district they were teaching in). "

That's it! MGJ will be the new hero for bringing in teachers that are allowed to teach a different math curriculum than the SPS standard! Never mind that it was her standard. This is all so painful to watch unfold.

mirmac1 said...

After the elimination of Spec Ed inclusion programs, ELL, APP, alternative education, we all get plain vanilla. The district rationalizes this by saying all it takes is general educators providing "differentiated instruction". That is no easy task, let alone doing it 28 ways with kids across the spectrum in talent and abilities. Are these TFA whiz-brains supposed to be able to do that better?

Our differently-abled children have lost their special educators who helped them navigate the general ed setting. Now their services will be delivered by conditionally-certificated TFA newbies? This hardly meets the definition of "highly qualified." Lawsuit.