Sunday, October 03, 2010

Upcoming Board Work Session and Board Meeting

There is a two-hour work session before this Wednesday's Board meeting with the topic of District scorecard and School Reports communication plan." This is apparently a topic of some concern to the district because of the pending date of release set for November 9th. It is part of the Strategic Plan. From the district's website:

The first annual school reports will be released by Seattle Public Schools (SPS) on November 9th 2010, which will provide a snapshot of school performance on common academic measures. SPS wants parents, students, and the community to know how each individual school is doing – from test scores to absence rates to student proficiency – so we all can learn from and act on the information to make our schools better.

In order to ensure excellence for all, the district needs to know how each school is currently performing and make improvement plans based upon that information. To be successful, we will need the community’s help. These school reports, which will be released annually, are meant to kick-off an ongoing community conversation about what needs to be done to make our schools better.

At the school level, the new performance data and the district’s improvement plans will help leaders focus on what is working well in schools, identify areas that need additional support, and guide how the district responds to those needs. Schools that are excelling for all students will be recognized; schools not making performance gains will receive focused support, resources, and interventions.

There are to be regional meetings about these school report cards because (1) most people don't know they are coming out and (2) if you read about your school and don't like what you see, you may be upset. You might also disagree, be happy, etc. Apparently the district (with the Alliance's help) is hoping to work with the Seattle Council PTSA to set up these meetings.

Giving credit to the Seattle Council PTSA, they are asking the district to think about unintended consequences and how to talk to parents so they clearly understand what they are being told and how it will help them support their own child at school.

The District is very sensitive that these are not "report cards" but school reports. They are not intended to judge but to share information and inform conversation about schools. It will include basics including average class size, average daily attendance, student gains in testing, and school progress status and percent of school progress criteria met.

Board Meeting

I note that at the beginning of every agenda they approve the minutes from the past Board meeting and other meetings. For some reason, they seem to think the agenda from the past Board meeting (with vote outcomes) can serve as minutes. I would disagree but I don't know what the legal definition of minutes is for this purpose.

On the agenda is a resolution to sell school construction bonds. The district needs to do this in order to accelerate the BTA III schedule especially for the reopening schools.

They will also be approving several revised Board policies on fees for damage to school property and restitution. (This is mostly about giving out laptops at STEM.) What is funny is that they state that

"The law requires that the School Board adopt procedures to make sure that a student or student's parent/guardian's right to due process is protected before District fines are assessed."

So these are policies directly affecting students and parents and under "Community Engagement Process" there's..."none." Sure, that makes sense.

Then's there approval of the contracts for other SPS staff. The one for Office Professionals and paraprofessionals show that they would get a 1% raise for two years but again, only if the levy passes (or the district finds "alternate funding"). Oh and under Community Engagement, it explains that it was a closed door discussion but that the Alliance's Our Schools Coalition provided a set of their objectives for the final agreement. I love the way the district picks and chooses who they will and will not listen to (even as they take meetings with both). I guess the trick is to have one group who works for you.

Where's the principals' contract for Pete's sake?

There is also an action item to extend the waitlist period for 2010/2011 non-attendance area kindergarten siblings. This will be an intro/action item rolled into one because of the timing. It would be for Lafayette and Stevens as I believe the other schools with issues (like View Ridge) have successfully cleared those students from their waitlists. All other waitlists dissolved on Sep. 30th.

Out-of attendance area siblings not placed with their older sibling by March 31, 2011 would default to the regular Open Enrollment process for school year 2011-12.

Intro Items include the sale of the old MLK, Jr. Elementary property to First African Methodist Episcopal for $2.4M. This one is a little troubling because the Board procedure is to sell to the highest financial bidder unless a proposal has substantial support to youth education/social services for at least half the building. Bush School would have give the district $5.6M (over several years) but First AME's bid includes substantial support for youth education activities for at least 40 years. Is the district really going to monitor this? I mean, great but how will you know it is happening and wouldn't you have to go to court to prove it? What is also interesting is that the Superintendent has the final say over any final additions, deletions and modifications to the contract. This is one contract I'll have to read.

The Board is also offering a Board resolution about the state audit. Well that didn't take long. The draft Resolution was tepid and now it's lukewarm.

"WHEREAS, the “Accountability Audit” identified additional areas for improvement in the
areas of governance and management oversight; and "

Look, I don't want anyone throwing themselves on a sword but the Board was called out in a very public way. I think saying they have "identified additional areas for improvement..." is a little self-serving. They don't note the multiple years that some of the items had been pointed out. They don't note that some of the items speak to ethical issues in our district (you are left to wonder why the new Ethics officer and ethics policy, maybe they speak for themselves). There's a lot to read between the lines here. I am glad and grateful for all the items they outline here to be done. Let's hope the Board makes sure that they GET done. That's their job. I note they say they want to make sure the "audit response work is successfully implemented" but nowhere do I see "completely."

There's a placeholder item about Teach for America and it won't be available to view until the end of Tuesday .

110 comments:

seattle citizen said...

Approval of the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Seattle Education Association Paraprofessional Employees, and introduction/action item on October 6th's agenda (can they do that? Introduce ANS act in the same session? I thought they needed time to take comments, think, etc...)

says that
"The negotiations process is a closed-door discussion between the two bargaining parties. However, there has been significant public interest in the outcome of the process. A community group, the Our Schools Coalition, provided a set of their objectives for the final agreement."

As Melissa points out, I have a deep concern: IF it is a "closed-door process," then why is the astro-turf organization Our Schools Coalition being given access? This is the most astro-turfiest astro-turf group to ever walk the astro-turf. formed merely months ago because the Alliance had been daylighted as being to much of a Gates toady...OSC is, in fact, Strategies 360, a PR group, and it collaborated with the district to obtain (ostensilbly through the Alliance) lists of both teachers and parents, a move that is against the law...

So how come this group of politicos (Burgess) business groups and a huge list of minority group representatives given access to contract negotiations?

This is a breach of the public trust: If the negotiations are "closed-door" they're closed door - where does the district find it in its charge to open the door JUST to OSC and it's "set of their objectives for the final agreement"?

Under what authority is OSC granted a) status as a "community group," and b) access to "provide a set of their objectives", when others cannot have such access? Whos' running this district, anyway, SPS or OSC?

seattle citizen said...

Wowzers, here's an Introduction item on the agenda that should raise some eyebrows:

"Agreement with Teach For America – Approval of this item will allow TFA candidates to apply for open positions during the Phase III hiring process – This item is a placeholder. Documents should be posted by close of business Tuesday."

Um, hello? Documents should be posted on Tuesday 5:00pm?

Why? Because they don't want anyone talking about it?

Just say "no" to TFA. Write your board directors and ask them to laugh this one out of the boardroom.

Aren't there enough qualified teachers wanting jobs? Like maybe the ones we've been laying off? Do we really need teachers with five weeks training and no desire to teach beyond two years applying for jobs in Seattle?

Just say no.

Central Mom said...

A TFA proposal -- which the District *knows* will be controversial-- not posted even a full business day before the staff presents it at the board meeting?

So much for that newfound committment to public engagement.

It really is depressing.

seattle citizen said...

SEATTLE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1 BOARD BYLAWS: AGENDA

"The Superintendent shall be responsible for preparing the agenda for each meeting, in cooperation with the Executive Committee. The agenda, minutes of the previous meeting, and relevant supplementary information of regular legislative sessions will be posted to the district’s web page at least three working days in advance of the meeting. Regular and special meeting agendas will also be posted on the district’s web page and available for review by any interested citizen in the Board office twenty-four hours prior to the meeting.
References: RCW 28A.320.040 Director Bylaws
28A.400.030 Superintendent’s duties
Cross Reference: B24.00 Secretary

So they've posted the agenda in the requisite time, 24 hours before the meeting, but it is an incomplete agenda because the "relevant supplementary information" is not there, and should have been posted three days before the meeting.

What's state law between friends?

uxolo said...

Seattle Foundation is pushing Teach for America. See their newly posted video
Teach for America

seattle citizen said...

ADOPTION AND
REVISION OF BOARD
POLICIES AND
DISTRICT PROCEDURES


Is it legal for an item to be both an introduction item and an action item in the same meeting?
It doesnt' appear to be:

"5. Proposed policies that are approved by a Board committee, or recommended to the full Board by the Superintendent despite lack of committee approval, are presented on Board agendas first for Board information and then for adoption. A public hearing may be held at the Board’s discretion before policies are adopted."

Note: "presented on Board agendas," plural, first as information (introduction) and THEN as action (adoption)

Methinks the intent, and indeed the letter, of the law here is to allow sufficient time between hearing about a proposed policy and acting on it, so Borad members can become educated and do research.

seattle citizen said...

Evidently, the superindendent has already been in negotiations with TFA:
"Agreement with Teach For America – Approval of this item will allow TFA candidates"

So there's already an agreement, merely waiting for Board approval.

Who authorized the superintendent to seek a sole-source contract or agreement with TFA, in breach of state certification policy (accredited teaching college degree)?

Even if she thought it was a good idea to have untrained staff, wouldn't she have to shop around? Why a contract with TFA? This is above and beyond her abilities under policy:


Policy F04.00 Equal Opportunity for Employment
and
Policy F14.00 retire/rehire policy

"It is the District’s policy to recruit, select, and employ employees based on merit, training, and experience."

dan dempsey said...

Oh yes the TFA proposal will be coming sometime late Tuesday.

This is reminiscent of the Complete and TOTAL BOTCH JOB the Action Report revised on 2/2/10 for the 2/3/10 NTN contract approval, where the Board (Sunquist, Carr, Maier, Martin-Morris) approved the Contract they had not read.

Of course the public could not point out the severe contract action report misalignment, because of the last minute contract revelation.

Expect more last minute Hy-jinx from admin on the coming TFA monstrosity .... transparent and accountable as ever ... work to get TEAM MGJ removed.

Start with the recall of four board members.

Dorothy Neville said...

It really doesn't bother me that the approval of the CBAs are intro and approval, there really isn't anything for the board to do, is there? Is there any precedent for a board to say no, we don't like that CBA, do it over? (But that line about Our Schools Coalition getting to chime in, that bites.)

The Intro/Action on the sibling waitlists though. Now I can see why Carr would push for this to be Intro and Action, given that the waitlists are dissolving (already dissolved?) but this is something that really ought to have an Intro and Action separated. Sure, most of us probably consider it a no-brainer, but who knows? Perhaps there are ramifications that need to be explored. This is clearly a case where it is important to separate the Intro and Action dates. Or even do something temporary, extending waitlists until the end of October, and perhaps longer, pending more discussion and a final vote next meeting.

seattle citizen said...

It's not the Seattle Foundation, it's SF and the League of Education Voters who want to bring TFA to Seattle. SF is working with/for LEV.

Here's all the info from the SF website on this:

" OVERVIEW: Teacher quality has a greater effect on student achievement than any other factor. Yet, as a nation and as a region, we have not found a way to ensure that our strongest teachers are working with the students who need them the most. Only 34 percent of low-income 6th graders in the Puget Sound region are achieving at grade level in math (compared to 70 percent of non-low-income students). Sixty-one percent of low-income 6th graders are reading at grade level, compared to 84 percent of their more affluent peers.

Teach For America (TFA) is a national leader in the movement to end educational inequity by enlisting the country’s most promising future leaders in teaching, leading and advocating for schools that serve high numbers of low-income students. TFA recruits and trains top college graduates who commit to teaching in urban and rural public schools, and who ultimately become lifelong advocates of high-quality education for all students. Since 1990, TFA has grown to include more than 24,000 corps members (teachers) and alumni who have taught more than 3 million students across 35 regions nationwide.

Until now, political and regulatory barriers have prevented TFA from establishing a presence in Washington State. Recent K-12 education reforms adopted by the state legislature, coupled with heightened community interest and support, have opened the door to TFA's launch of a Puget Sound program.

There are a number of donors and funders who are supporting this effort, including the following:: The Seattle Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Raikes Foundation, The Bezos Family Foundation, Intelius Inc.

ACTIVITIES AND RESULTS: TFA plans to bring 150 Teach for America teachers to the Puget Sound over three years, beginning in Fall 2011. In order to do so, TAF must achieve three key milestones by August 1, 2010:
Secure partnerships (and commitments totaling $1 million over 3 years) with 3-5 school districts
Develop an agreement with a partner—most typically a local university—to certify TFA teachers
Secure $5.2 million in private sector funding
RECENT GRANTS: In order to bring TFA to the Puget Sound region, TFA must secure $5.2 million in private funds. The Seattle Foundation will dedicate $250,000 to this effort, and is committed to raising an additional $250,000 from TSF donors and contributors (for a total of $500,000).
GET INVOLVED: Make a contribution: Help us bring the important work of Teach for America to the Puget Sound region by making a contribution to this important initiative. Give online or call (206) 622-2294. Learn more: Become involved with the League of Education Voters and support their work to bring Teach For America to Puget Sound area schools. Contact Caroline Maillard, Education Element Lead at The Seattle Foundation, at (206) 622-2294 or c.maillard [at] seattlefoundation.org to learn more about Teach For America and other efforts to support high quality public schools and give children the skills they need to succeed in school and life.

seattle citizen said...

I understand, Dorothy, that perhaps the contract doesn't need two different meetings to be approved, but it seems to me that the policy (and maybe law) requires two different meetings, one for intro/info, one for action.

That this is ignored so readily speaks to undue (and undemocratic) haste, and possible improper actions

cascade said...

Intelius former CEO Naveen Jain has what can best be described as a checkered corporate reputation and at worst as downright awful. Google it.

Just the thought that this company, given its history, supports ANYTHING, let alone TFA, should give pause.

I want to hear more on how our not-so-super Super thinks she can waltz in with a TFA proposal. I am not even against the TFA proposal. I don't know what I think of it. But I am UTTERLY AGAINST the agenda she once again plunks on the table with NOT ONE MINUTE of community outreach.

What was that quote from soon-to-be ousted Michele Rhee in the New York Times today? Ahhhh, yessssssssssss: “I’m not going to pretend to solicit your advice so you’ll feel involved, because that’s just fake.”

Dear not-so-super Super: When the door hits your backside on your way out remember this is the attitude that sent you out said door.

Dorothy Neville said...

SC, I do not disagree. I have no idea what's common in the case of the CBAs though. I do think that if someone is protesting the Intro/Action on the CBAs, then they also need to protest the Intro/Action on the sibling waitlist piece.

And can someone tell my why the board needs a Resolution to state that they are taking the audits seriously? It looks poorly edited and given their lack of follow through on previous promises, it rings hollow. Just rings a bit more lofty by putting it in resolution language. Is there a more meaningful reason for putting their "we are taking the audits seriously" phrase into a resolution?

Charlie Mas said...

It is a violation of Board Policy B45.00 to have introduction and action on a non-routine, non-emergency motion at the same meeting. The policy allows it for routine items on the consent agenda and for emergencies only. The teacher contract is not an emergency.

seattle citizen said...

So we know where the commitment from a "local university" to provide training is coming from - the Dean of UW's College of Ed, Tom Stritikus, had opinion piece in the Times the other day, and he is a TFA corp member (and evidently proud of it, as he mentions it in his opinion);

We know also that the state evidently changed the rules to allow TFA;

We know that the superintendent is just now proposing ("documents to be available just a day before the meeting") bringing TFA to Seattle...


Looks like the top-down people are hard at it, orchestrating this move.

I say we stop them cold. Now.

Dorothy Neville said...

Sherry Carr's motion on the waitlists is not an emergency either.

dan dempsey said...

Check out that TFA rationale.

There is a problem thus a change is needed .... TFA man flies to the rescue.

Sorry the data is just not that convincing.

If these folks really want to teach tell them to get a credential and apply.

For those not paying attention as a TFA teacher you get same pay as a beginning teacher and the wonderful scholarships etc. upon completion of your TFA commitment. Little wonder they have an enormous number of applicants.

Dora Taylor said...

TFA was mentioned in SERVE in the small print. I spoke about that in a previous board meeting.

There was a clause, and I don't know if it's in the new contract with the teachers' union, that if TFA is brought in, the contract with the teacher's union is to be renegotiated.

Any teachers out there know if it made it into your contract?

Dora Taylor said...

This is the testimony I gave in August:

Much in SERVE has to do with tying the performance of a student on the MAP test to the evaluation of a teacher. Salaries can be based on a student’s performance, but worse than that, SERVE goes on to propose that when there is a rif, the superintendent can then fire teachers based on their evaluations. This is referred to as high stakes testing.

Do I want my daughter’s teacher to be that concerned about how she does on a single test or do I want them to teach the whole child a broader view of the subject, helping her to develop her creative and critical thinking skills?

It would be human nature that a person who is concerned about their livelihood and career would want to focus on ensuring that their students know the correct answers to a multiple choice test, drill and kill as some people call it. Make sure the student knows simple answers to simple questions and kill any desire on the part of the student to want to learn more, subverting any sense of curiosity or wonderment about the world around them. Teach to the test and nothing more.

And who cares about seniority and knowledge of teaching gained from years of experience when you can hire Teach for America recruits on the cheap, another item on the SERVE agenda.

Hiring Teach for America recruits straight out of college and placing them in the classrooms for a stint of two years is the latest rage among ed –reformers, particularly with for-profit charter schools that can hire TFA recruits, keep their cost down and make a profit. Remember, charter schools do not hire union teachers.

Hiring Teach for America recruits works well for charter franchises but not for the students. These recruits, who are planning to go into other fields once the economy picks up, commit two years to teaching, receive six weeks of training, go into the classroom, do their thing and then move on to their chosen fields. Most do not continue on into education. That creates a high rate of churn, as well as a lack of stability with the students, the school and the community.

There is no long-term commitment on the part of the teacher to the school or the community and leaves students who have developed bonds with these teachers with nothing at the end but the broken promise that the teacher would be there for them forever.

These elements of SERVE would not work for our students or our community and should not be accepted by the teachers. And teachers, even though you are being bombarded by messages brought to you by Broad-backed and Gates funded faux roots organizations, such as the Alliance, Our Schools’ Coalition and Stand for Children, know that we as parents support you during these negotiations and consider you a precious resource in the development of our children.

Dora Taylor said...
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Dora Taylor said...
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Dora Taylor said...

The supe was placed here by the Broad to do their bidding. That is her intention and she is following through beautifully.

This has been well-orchestrated by a few with a lot of money and therefore some power. Power is taken, not given though. We can let a few take the power from us of determining how our children are educated in Seattle or we can let them take it from us.

We do have the power still in our hands to push back and keep this sort of thing out of Seattle.

It's up to everyone reading these words to do something about it. It really is up to all of us at this point.

Call your board members, council persons, particularly Burgess who has now stepped into the debate with his lame editorial,go to the board meeting and speak or just sit there and applaud for those who do, bring signs to the board meeting, just generally make it clear, painfully, obviously clear, that this is not what we want for our children.

Sahila said...

It kills me to see everything I predicted 2 years ago coming to fruition here in this town... its the pattern that's been playing out all over the country...

MGJ has been very successful in her three years to bring the agenda to complete implementation...

you need to do more than speak at board meetings etc... you need to take action.... keep your kids out of schools, marches, rallies... make so much noise the District cant hide anymore, cant move forward on this...

No time left now for Seattle 'nice"....stop bitching and start a revolution!

Sahila said...

Why are you not all absolutely incensed at this subterfuge, these fait accomplis that are being pushed through without public engagement?

And if it does stir your sense of the inappropriate, what are you going to DO about it?

Sahila said...

The Deformist Agenda is almost completely implemented here in Seattle with this underhand move... all that's left is legislation to let charters into the state and that will be coming out of Olympia this next legislative session... it sucks... what is it with Seattle people that they wont get mad!!!!! Where's the "hell no, we wont go" mentality!!!

Dora Taylor said...

On the Seattle Education 2010 blog we have this quote from Frederick Douglass.

“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.”

Melissa Westbrook said...

Uxolo, I checked out your link. Norm Rice almost made it sound like TFA was the answer to "ending education equities." I was astonished at his language. He said that TFA was "tested and tangible." I have no idea what tangible means in this context. They want to send 150 TFA teachers to SPS over 3 years. They say they need to raise $5M to supplement what the district would pay.

I read an article about TFA (and I think I mentioned this before) where they had a 21-one year old teaching a middle school special ed class with 5 weeks of learning basic teaching skills, none about special ed. How can we allow someone like that in a classroom? It's ridiculous.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't understand the thinking behind alternative certification.

If the five weeks of training given by Teach for America is all that anyone needs to be a certified teacher, then why do we require anything more for anyone else?

If the five weeks of training given by Teach for America is not sufficient, then why would we allow TfA volunteers to be teachers in our schools?

I was not aware that Seattle Public Schools was having any trouble hiring teachers. I was not aware that teaching positions were going unfilled due to a lack of applicants. I heard that there were 800 applicants for teaching jobs at West Seattle Elementary.

We don't need Teach for America volunteers; we have plenty of real, qualified teachers.

And if alternative certification is good enough for some people then it should be good enough for everyone.

cascade said...
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cascade said...

Wikipedia says:


According to a 2009 USA Today article, Teach For America has been criticized by opponents who claim that the program replaces experienced teachers with brand-new employees brought in at beginners' salary levels. John Wilson, executive director of the National Education Association, sent a memo in May 2009 stating that union leaders were "beginning to see school systems lay off teachers and then hire Teach For America college grads due to a contract they signed." Wilson went on to say that Teach For America brings in "the least-prepared and the least-experienced teachers" into low-income schools and makes them "the teacher of record."[9]

In the same USA Today article it was reported that in March 2009, Peter Gorman, the superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina schools told board members that because of a commitment made to the program, 100 Teach For America teachers would be retained in spite of the fact that hundreds of other non-Teach For America teachers in the district would be laid off. However, Teach For America spokeswoman Kerci Marcello Stroud says it would be a mistaken notion to say that Teach For America corps members are displacing experienced teachers. "In every region where we send teachers, we're just one source," she says. "Once they land, corps members must interview for jobs just like everyone else."[9]

Critics of Teach For America have also cited the results of Mathematica Policy Research's 2004 study as an indication of Teach For America’s lack of efficacy (see Educational Impact). These critics claim that while the study shows that students taught by Teach For America teachers perform better in mathematics than those taught by non-Teach For America teachers, the improvement is very small, and that furthermore there is no difference in reading performance between the two groups.

anonymom said...

Can someone explain to me why SPS is considering TFA?

I thought we had a fair amount of rif'd teachers waiting for rehire, plenty of new teachers coming out of college, and no shortage of qualified teachers applying for most open teaching positions. Why does SPS need TFA? What purpose does TFA serve? In what situation would a school or district hire a TFA teacher instead of a qualified, experienced, properly trained teacher? What are the union rules around hiring TFA teachers? Do TFA teachers join the union? Are TFA teachers only stepping into positions that can't be filled by qualified teachers? Are they interning, or only going to be uses as IA's, under a qualified teachers supervision? Can they somehow help reduce class size in SPS?

I'd like to have more information on this subject as this is the first I'm hearing about it and don't know much.

Sahila said...

go here for a the lines of influence diagram and you'll see that TFA is part of the ed reform agenda...

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxzZWF0dGxlZWR1Y2F0aW9uMjAxMHxneDo2M2I5ZTFhODEyOWJmOGZi

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/the-lines-of-influence-in-education-reform/

and go here:
http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/

scroll down the right hand sidebar until you come to the category Teach for America... all you never wanted to know about who might be teaching your kids next....

cascade said...

Right Anonymom. Which is why the lack of info. from the District, withholding the proposal until less than 24 hours before it is introduced as a motion on which the Board will vote is DUPLICITOUS.

Sure, the District will say that there will be plenty of time for public input between Wed's introduction of a proposal for vote and the actual, later vote.

But, see, changes would have to come in the form of AMENDMENTS to the proposal. Which makes it oh-so-much-more difficult to change the initial proposal. Which means the District is playing a political game and playing its constituents for fools.

Bah. I want the superintendent out. She cares not what we think. Only what her downtown business backers think. And I'm not one of them. Nor are most of the families in this district.

Melissa Westbrook said...

AnonyMom, good questions all. I don't get it either. Would they displace teachers or what? We have to pay them so no, I don't think they would be used to lower class size.

I'm going to do some research and do a thread on this subject.

Anonymous said...

I am w/ anonymom w/ my questions. Charlie, can you explain if SPS pays for TFA? (I am new to this whole idea.) If TFA is not coming out of district budget, but a foundation/grant, can we negotiate to use them as instructional assistants as they are being mentored toward a teaching certificate? Perhaps we can use them to help with large class sizes and the district's proposal to reduce IAs.

They can get hands-on experience working with certificate, seasoned teachers and be evaluated. This way the TFA folks can see if teaching is for them and we can see if they are cut out for it. These TFA folks already have degrees so if we provide real world experience w/ good mentorship, can we create a program that is a win-win for these would be teachers and our schools?

Kate

anonymom said...
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anonymom said...
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anonymom said...
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Anonymous said...

Sorry my questions should be to you Melissa re: use of TFA.

My husband and I are at a crossroad trying to decide to go private, homeschool, or stick w/ public schools. We check your blog frequently, but what we are seeing at school, media, and on the blog makes us pessimistic or at the vey least full of doubts re: public education. So we are trying to figure out if there is a way for you bloggers, the board, the teachers, and the district to be innovative, work together, and find solutions while incorporating some of the reforms we seem to be heading.
Sara

anonymom said...

It appears that TFA teachers would only be considered in the phase III hiring process. That means (if I understand correctly) that TFA teachers would only be considered after internal SPS candidates have been considered, after school based hiring teams choose, interview, and offer positions to candidates they select, and after teachers with super seniority are placed in open positions.

In Phase III, TFA teachers would compete for open positions against other new teachers, and SPS teachers that are in the displaced pool.

In addition to a college degree, A TFA teacher receives 5 weeks of intensive teacher training. They live in a dorm and attend training 8 hours per day, for 5 weeks. That's 200 hours of instruction. Does anyone know how many hours of "teacher specific" training and instruction a traditional SPS teacher receives before they can be certified?

anonymom said...

Some interesting info from the TFA website FAQ:

How much do Teach For America corps members get paid?
Salaries range from $30,000 to $51,500. Corps members are paid directly by the school districts for which they work and generally receive the same salaries, health coverage, and retirement benefits as other beginning teachers.

A 2008 Urban Institute study of Teach For America in high schools found that corps members were, on average, more effective than non-Teach For America teachers in all subject areas, and especially in math and science. That was true even when Teach For America teachers were compared with experienced and fully certified teachers. These findings were confirmed in a 2009 update of the study, which employed a larger sample of corps members and additional comparison groups. In all cases, the positive impact of having a Teach For America teacher was at least twice that of having a teacher with three or more years of experience relative to a new teacher. [The Urban Institute/CALDER, 2008-09]

The most methodologically rigorous study to date found that students of corps members made more progress in a year in both reading and math than would typically be expected and attained significantly greater gains in math compared with students of other teachers, including veteran and certified teachers. The study also found that corps members were working in the highest-need classrooms in the country, where students begin the year on average at the 14th percentile against the national norm. [Mathematica Policy Research, 2004]

What I couldn't find on their website (maybe I missed it?) was if they are a non profit or not.

another mom said...

If TFA is as effective at producing quality teachers as "the research" indicates, why bother with the one to two year process it takes for post graduate certification at local colleges and universities? TFA seems to make these programs obsolete. The Department of Education at the UW could be greatly reduced or abolished. -insert sarcasm here-

It is like fast food to me. The McDonald's version of getting professional certification. Would we accept this from the medical profession, legal profession,engineering -got a bridge that you need built? Nope, but it is OK for teaching. Charlie said it a while back. The reformers are deskilling the teaching profession.

I don't doubt the sincerity of the young people attracted to TFA. They are idealists wanting to make a difference. However, what is the real cost?

Hiring and training new employees is expensive and this is especially true if the new hires only stay for two years. Who picks up the tab? The taxpayer?

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

TFA teachers compete with new teachers and current SPS teachers in the displaced pool.

Teachers in the displaced pool apply for, and are considered for, open positions in Phase I. After applying and interviewing if no school offers them a position, they can be considered by seniority in Phase II.

Teachers that remain in the displaced pool after Phase I and II are teachers that were not selected by schools with vacancies to teach for them.

Over the past couple of years School closures, and rif's, resulted in more teachers that there were open positions, so there are quite a few teachers in the displaced pool. But prior to the past couple of years teacher in the displaced pool were generally considered the bottom of the barrel, and dreaded hires by school administrators.

Seattle Parent said...

TFA has been crossed out (literally) from the Board agenda online:
(the strike marks did not cut & paste)
Agreement with Teach For America – Approval of this item will allow TFA candidates to apply for open positions during the Phase III hiring process – This item is a placeholder. Documents should be posted by close of business Tuesday.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Interesting, Seattle Parent. It's good because it gives us time to figure out TFA and its benefits/costs to our district. (From the LEV website, it sounds like TFA picks its locations so who knows? We may not be good enough for them.)

From the LEV blog:

"Seattle is a finalist region for the organization’s expansion. If the necessary funding and partnerships are established, and Teach For America selects our region for expansion, the organization could bring Teach For America corps members — like Seattle native Cullen White — to the area as early as next year."

One interesting word that struck me at the TFA site is "leverage." They speak of getting their teachers in to get leverage. I'll have to find out.

Dorothy Neville said...

Wonderful news about the TFA item being crossed off the agenda. Does this show that the Board is taking the audit seriously? That they must follow policy and have agenda content available three business days in advance? Now if they fix the three Intro/Action items to be Intro only, I will truly find their behavior noteworthily positive.

cascade said...

Melissa, can you call the board's office assistant and ask why the TFA item is crossed out. Am soooo curious as to the answer they will give the press.

Sahila said...

Notice that its TFA deigning to come to Seattle, as though they'd be doing us a favour if we measure up!!!... more of the tail wagging the dog...

seattle citizen said...

Cascade, I'm sure the answer will be:
"We suddenly remembered that it is 'the District’s policy to recruit, select, and employ employees based on merit, training, and experience' and that TFA 'teachers' have not yet demonstrated merit as teachers; have only a few weeks training; and have no experience teaching. We apologize for the confusion: We DO value our experienced staff that has spent, sometimes, years learning the craft and continues to hone their skills through required and optional workshops. We think many, if not most of our staff has merit, as did many of those we recently laid off (oh, and we forgot that these laid off staff members are still looking for their jobs back...)

We realized that our good teachers are exemplars of merit, training and experience; and we don't need the reformers' Teach For America leverage to move them out. Some groups have told us we should, but we won't"

another mom said...

TFA requires the state to provide an alternative to the current teacher certification process.Did this happen in the last legislative session?

ttln said...

This thread is making me think that the nightmare that woke me up Saturday morning was my second sight working. I dreamed I was soon to have a visit from the heads of downtown who were on their way to lay me off/fire me. The only reason was because I cost too much to keep on the payroll. Everyone in the dream kept saying how sorry they were- I was a good teacher with good numbers, my students grow. But there was nothing they could do. Times were tough, the budget ax fell and I was cut because I have too much pd and too many years. Nothing I could do to fix it. Nothing personal.

The dream left me very sad. This thread makes me sadder.

cascade said...

Seattle Citizen...that's a nice dream response. My personal dream is that someone would own up to this thought process:
"Damn, the pesky public is calling us out on the bylaws of board meeting agendas. Now we have to wait an extra 2 whole weeks to get our way. Oh well, I guess we can wait. We've got it all sown up behind the scenes anyhow. No use stirring up the natives." Insert evil laugh.

ttln said...

I particularly like how TFA can come in without anything but a BA or BS but they spent hours last spring making sure I was "highly qualified" according to the state and NCLB. Are TFA teachers "inventoried" like the certificated teachers when it comes to the OSPI school report card- where it reports the number of teachers HQ, those not HQ, those with master’s degrees, etc? Won't the presence of TFA teachers bring down a school's NCLB evaluation?
There is so much contradictory practice in this reform movement, my head swims. WV says: bleringa my world.

seattle citizen said...

another mom,
The SF/LEV information says that the state recently approved some sort of ed "reform" that would allow TFA. I've also found on OSPI's certifcation webpages that there is such thing as a "Limited Teaching Certificate," a sub-category of which which might be used for TFA:
"Contracted Teaching

Conditional Teacher Certificate:
The conditional certificate gives a school district the flexibility to hire someone who has expertise in an area, usually when they cannot find a certificated teacher in a specific endorsement area. The certificate is subject to specific limitations and the teacher must take professional development coursework to enhance their teaching competencies. It is valid for up to 2 years. "

seattle citizen said...

Here's an except from State Rep Reuven Caryle's blog
Note he says it was Race to the Top legislation that allows TFA, I'm assuming WA state RTT. I'll dig deeper.

Reuven, it turns out, is a big fan of TFA. He positively gushes...

"...I believe it is time for us to embrace the passion, vision and spirit of Teach for America–and other para-professional programs–with full conviction. Their standards are beyond extraordinary, their record impressive, their outcomes compelling.

Last year’s Race to the Top legislation included an element that is a modest but important first step. The legislation now allows our state to welcome Teach for America and other non-higher education organization to participate in teacher pre-service training. It is important to note that the standards and requirements are the same so it won’t necessarily be an easier route for candidates.

That requirement misses the fundamental purpose of Teach for America, a program that has unquestionably proven its value proposition across the nation. I hope we can agree to open this question in the months to come for a healthy, vibrant and thoughtful conversation with all of the stakeholders.

Beginning next week, September 30, 2010, the Washington State Public Education Standards Board is required to accept proposals for new programs that could include community and technical colleges or non higher education providers. I don’t know whether Teach for America or other programs are ready, but I hope they are ready to embrace our communities.

Teach for America embraces the best in young people with the soul of an educator. It is the toughest work imaginable and I’ve heard of tremendous, life-long relationships that have been sealed by Teach for America members and fellow teachers in some of our nation’s most challenging schools. I’ve heard that many existing teachers become Teach for America’s biggest allies.

I have written many times about my passion for national and community service. Imagine, for just a moment, the transformational power of change if every young person engaged in a year or two of service in the military, Peace Corps or AmeriCorps.

Imagine.

All of us hold our teachers in the highest personal and professional regards. For so many young people, taking the path toward teaching that Teach for America enables is the right journey. And for the young people they touch, it can help change the world.

Your partner in service,

Reuven. "

another mom said...

@Seattle Citizen thanks for the follow-up to my question re: alternate certification. Interesting though the notation about TFA in the District's contract proposal mentioned that it was pending a change in the state law. When did the change happen?

Did anyone but me notice that TFA charges school districts a placement fee ala an employment agency?

I did go Reuven Carlyle's blog. I noted that none of the questions posed by Charlie were answered.

If TFA has such an exemplary program, shouldn't it be adopted by our local colleges and universities? I am serious.

seattle citizen said...

another mom,
Where did you see "the district's contract proposal"? I didn't see anything on the board agenda but that short paragraph. Where does it say "pending a change in state law?"

the way I read Reuven, he believes the state did not go fat enough because it only allows TFA to conduct pre-teaching education classes or some such, not actually place its program grads (after five weeks) into schools. The way I read it, the same certification standards still apply, so there is no "cliff notes" version (five weeks) but students must actually take certain classes and credits to get the cert. Reuven doesn't like this.

another mom said...

Seattle Citizen -I thought that it was in the SERVE proposal from the District the SEA and I misread it. My apologies.

seattle citizen said...

here in Senate Bill 6696, we find langauge that might be designed for Teach For America, under the Partnership Grants, Alternative Ruotes to certification. There are four routes, the first two dealing with current employees, i.e. IAs wanted to cert up. The third seems most likely to be designed for TFA. Two part post: first part has intro, Alternative Routes 1 and 2, Second has 3 and 4

Intro, Routes One and Two:
Sec. 504. RCW 28A.660.040 and 2009 c 192 s 1 and 2009 c 166 s 1
are each reenacted and amended to read as follows:
Partnership grants funded)) Alternative route programs under this chapter shall operate one to four specific route programs. Successful completion of the program shall make a candidate eligible for residency teacher certification. ((For route one and two candidates,)) The mentor of the teacher candidate at the school and the supervisor of the teacher candidate from the ((higher education)) teacher preparation program must both agree that the teacher candidate has successfully completed the program.
((For route three and four candidates, the mentor of the teacher candidate shall make the determination that the candidate has successfully completed the program.))
(1) ((Partnership grant programs...Alternative route programs operating route one programs shall enroll currently employed classified instructional employees with transferable associate degrees seeking residency teacher certification with endorsements in special education, bilingual education, or English as a second language. It is anticipated that candidates enrolled in this route will complete both their baccalaureate degree and requirements for residency certification in two years or less, including a mentored internship to be completed in the final year. In addition, partnership programs shall uphold entry requirements for candidates that include:(a) District or building validation of qualifications, including one year of successful student interaction and leadership as a classified instructional employee;
E2SSB 6696.PL p. 38 (b) Successful passage of the statewide basic skills exam((, when available)); and (c) Meeting the age, good moral character, and personal fitness requirements adopted by rule for teachers.
(2) ((Partnership grant programs seeking funds to operate)) Alternative route programs operating route two programs shall enroll currently employed classified staff with baccalaureate degrees seeking residency teacher certification in subject matter shortage areas and areas with shortages due to geographic location. Candidates enrolled in this route must complete a mentored internship complemented by flexibly scheduled training and coursework offered at a local site, such as a school or educational service district, or online or via video-conference over the K-20 network, in collaboration with the partnership program's higher education partner. In addition,partnership grant programs shall uphold entry requirements for candidates that include:
(a) District or building validation of qualifications, including one year of successful student interaction and leadership as classified staff; (b) A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education. The individual's college or university grade point average may be considered as a selection factor; (c) Successful completion of the ((content test, once the state content test is available)) subject matter assessment required by RCW 28A.410.220(3); (d) Meeting the age, good moral character, and personal fitness requirements adopted by rule for teachers; and(e) Successful passage of the statewide basic skills exam((, when available)).

seattle citizen said...

Here are Partnership Grants for Alternative Routes to certification, Two and Three, found here in SB 6696

Alt Route Three, the first below, seems likely to be the TFA entry point.

(3) ((Partnership grant)) Alternative route programs seeking funds to operate route three programs shall enroll individuals with baccalaureate degrees, who are not employed in the district at the time of application. When selecting candidates for certification through route three, districts and approved preparation program providers shall give priority to individuals who are seeking residency teacher certification in subject matter shortage areas or shortages due to geographic locations. ((For route three only, the districts may include additional candidates in nonshortage subject areas if the candidates are seeking endorsements with a secondary grade level designation as defined by rule by the professional educator standards board. The districts shall disclose to candidates in nonshortage subject areas available information on the demand in those subject areas.)) Cohorts of candidates for this route shall attend an intensive summer teaching academy, followed by a full year employed by a district in a mentored internship, followed, if necessary, by a second summer teaching academy. In addition, partnership programs shall uphold entry requirements for candidates that include: (a) A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education. The individual's grade point average may be considered as a selection factor; (b) Successful completion of the ((content test, once the state content test is available)) subject matter assessment required by RCW 28A.410.220(3) (c) External validation of qualifications, including demonstrated successful experience with students or children, such as reference letters and letters of support from previous employers; (d) Meeting the age, good moral character, and personal fitness requirements adopted by rule for teachers; and (e) Successful passage of statewide basic skills exam((s, when available)).
(4) ((Partnership grant programs seeking funds to operate) Alternative route programs operating route four programs shall enroll individuals with baccalaureate degrees, who are employed in the district at the time of application, or who hold conditional teaching certificates or emergency substitute certificates. Cohorts of candidates for this route shall attend an intensive summer teaching academy, followed by a full year employed by a district in a mentored internship. If employed on a conditional certificate, the intern may serve as the teacher of record, supported by a well-trained mentor. In addition, partnership programs shall uphold entry requirements for candidates that include:(a) A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education. The individual's grade point average may be considered as a selection factor; (b) Successful completion of the ((content test, once the state content test is available)) subject matter assessment required by RCW 28A.410.220(3);
(c) External validation of qualifications, including demonstrated successful experience with students or children, such as reference letters and letters of support from previous employers; (d) Meeting the age, good moral character, and personal fitness requirements adopted by rule for teachers; and(e) Successful passage of statewide basic skills exam((s, when available)).
(5) Applicants for alternative route programs who are eligible veterans or national guard members and who meet the entry requirements for the alternative route program for which application is made shall be given preference in admission.

Dora Taylor said...

http://seattle-ed.blogspot.com/2009/10/nctq-presentation.html
(You have to scroll all the way down the page to view the post. That's why we switched to wordpress.)

Posted October 19, 2009

Remember last year? The NCTQ presentation brought to you by the Alliance for Education?

This is an excerpt from my post regarding that gala event:

"...Then she (Kate Walsh with NCTQ) starts in on how no one is able to tell how well a teacher will do and that it is not based on the amount of education that they receive or the courses that they take. She says that someone with a Masters degree is no more effective a teacher as a teacher without an advanced degree. She said that it has to do with experience and that teachers do not reach a point of being "effective" until their 4th or 5th year of teaching. She went on to say that the worst teachers are first year teachers. They are the worst teachers that a child can have. That's what she said.

And after that she said "So that's your primer."

So OK, let’s see, we are to believe this premise, no questions asked. Well, that's a lot to swallow. So she is saying that you don't have to be that well trained or educated to be a good teacher. In that case, maybe my dog could qualify in her program.

She goes on to say that every, and I do emphasize EVERY, study that has been done so far shows that not only does teacher training not have a positive impact on teaching but that sometimes it even hampers the effectiveness of teaching. Please note: The word "effective" and "effectiveness" comes up in about every other sentence. Kind of how the term "9/11" used to be used in every sentence that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld said...

That was the introduction of Teach for America to our fair city.

Dora Taylor said...

Anonymom,

TFA is a non-profit but it is Teach for America, Inc. They just received $50M from DOE and they get lots of money from private sources such as the Broad Foundation. Wendy Kopp, who is the founder of TFA and also on the Broad Board of Directors, is not hurtin' for cash. Remember now, mom, our supe is on the Broad Board of Directors also.

If you really want to know about a company the last thing that you want to do is go to their website. What you want to do is google around and ask around about an organization to get the real deal.

The real deal is that they are a source of cheap labor for charter schools. It's really that simple.

We're starting to get the campaign from the Alliance and their morphs that charter schools are really OK, well, at least for those minority kids on the southside...

And yes, SeattleEd has accumulated a lot of information about TFA over the last year or so and it would behoove you to look in other places other than their website to see what they are really all about.

Dora Taylor said...

Kate (Walsh?),

These TFA recruits are not interested in teaching in the end. Most of them go into other professions after their two years are up.

With the economy the way it is, a lot of college grads are in need of a job, any job, so TFA is a way to go.

Would it be worth it to train these TFA recruits? Why? There are plenty of dedicated students who WANT to be teachers who would want to be able to assist in a classroom.

THAT would be a "win-win".

Dora Taylor said...

And yes, Bill 6696 has an item in there about alternative certification.

That means TFA.

That's the bill that the Alliance,et al and the PTSA were pushing so hard to get through. It's all about the Race to the Top agenda, school turnarounds (to be replaced by charters), half the staff fired, (and replaced by TFA recruits), principals fired, the whole nightmare that will only happen in the most low preforming schools as determined by the MAP test. But you don't have to worry about that happening to you and your children. It will open happen on the south end.

That's how it's worked so far in other cities.

The real kick in the you know where is when, as in Chicago, students were forced out of schools on the south-side as the area was being gentrified and the schools replaced with charter schools that the new residents enjoyed in their newly renovated neighborhoods.

See: "Arne Duncan and the Chicago Success Story: Myth or Reality?"

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/05/29-10

anonymom said...

"The real deal is that they are a source of cheap labor for charter schools. It's really that simple."

Dora, if TFA is just cheap labor for charter schools then why are they interested in Seattle, where we have no charters?

Personally, Dora, the only thing that I care about is finding out what TFA would provide to SPS? What affect hiring their teachers would have on our district? And what affect hiring TFA teachers would have on our classrooms?

So, Dora, if you could "google" around and find specific examples of how TFA has affected (non charter) districts I'd be interested in learning about that. But I am not at all interested in knowing how much money Wendy Kopp has, or what board she sits on.

Again, these TFA teachers would only be considered in Phase III of the hiring process. They would compete with the displaced pool and other new teachers. At this point (and I may be very wrong) I just don't see the trouble with that.

I'm open to learning more about TFA. As I said earlier, this is an area I know little about. But I am immediately put off when the broad bashing starts, so if we could stay focused on the specific benefits (or detriments) TFA would provide to the classroom and/or district I'd appreciate it.

Dora Taylor said...

Oops. That didn't come out right.

"And yes, SeattleEd has accumulated a lot of information about TFA over the last year or so and it would behoove you to look in other places other than their website to see what they are really all about."

Yes there is a lot of information about TFA on our website:

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/

Just scroll down the right hand column and you'll find it.

Dora Taylor said...

Oh Jeez,

I just got an e-mail from the League of Education Voters (who receive money from the Broad Borg).

They are featuring Waiting for Superman, an interview with a TFAer and the not to be missed event featuring Kevin Johnson, you know, the guy who ran a charter school, played basketball, is now married, I think at this point, to Michelle Rhee (a whole other story) and had those "indiscretions" with some under aged young women.

The "charmer" who gets sent out to represent charter schools and TFA.

If anyone didn't know before where the League of Education Voters stands, you know now.

Dora Taylor said...

Anonymom,

I don't know if you have noticed yet, but the term "charter schools" is starting to swirl around our heads.

There was a soiree the other night in Alki Beach about charter schools which I believe Charlie Mas attended, Steve Barth who heads the KIPP charter schools' franchise is coming to town thanks to LEV, the UW dean is talking about charter schools, Kevin Johnson will be talking about charter schools. And trust me, there are folks now talking to our legislators about charter schools.

It's the next big push and they are just getting everything in place.

Anonyom, this is not the only instance of this happening. It is happening all over the country. TFA only comes in where there are charter schools. You won't see them in the rural areas where there are no charter schools.

Trust me on this, I've been watching this for almost two years now. Again, on the right hand side of our blog, you will see cities and states. Check out those articles and you will start to see a pattern.

It is admirable that you want to find out everything that you can, that's how I began. I just wanted to know what was going on and I did and none of this is good.

Some Clarity said...

@Dora "TFA only comes in where there are charter schools. You won't see them in the rural areas where there are no charter schools." Just wanted to respond to this: TFA places in many rural regions without charter schools (The Mississippi side of the Mississippi Delta region is one). Like Mississippi, Washington State also does not allow charter schools.

Sahila said...

Charter schools.... generally not what they're cracked up to be....


http://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2010/10/were-still-waiting-for-superman-here-in.html

Dora Taylor said...

Oh yeah, about the Broad, they are very much a part of this conversation. It's impossible not to relate most of this back to Gates and Broad, the two most influential people in America right now trying to create a system that they think works. Unfortunately for the rest of us, neither has a degree in education or had the experience of being in public school (except for Eli Broad according to some) or being a parent of a child in public school. That makes a difference.

They have their agenda, what they think is best for us and have no interest in hearing from parents, teachers and students who are on the ground, every day, understanding what works and what doesn't.

And in terms of phases, phase 1, 3 or 100, it doesn't matter, we don't need them.

If you think that it's a great idea to have a twenty something who has spent five weeks of class time learning "How to Teach: 101" without learning and understanding the developmental phases of a child, or having the experience of student teaching or wanting to make a commitment for the long haul with your child, the school and the community, then fine. But that's not what I want for my child or our school.

Sahila said...

Mississippi just passed a law letting in charter schools in support of its RTTT application, which it didnt win...

http://www.publiccharters.org/node/2893

TFA comes in to help prepare the ground for charters, or when its ready and just waiting for the legislative process to catch up...

Dora Taylor said...

Some Clarity, thanks for the correction, you are right. I do remember reading about that.

Well, we still don't need them here. We have plenty of educated and trained young people who are willing to dedicate themselves to our communities. They spend several years preparing to be teachers and that is the kind of teacher who I would want teaching my child.

anonymom said...

All of your posts, Dora, and you still haven't said anything of substance about TFA.

I don't want to hear about Broad and Gates. I want to hear and learn about TFA.

And please don't direct me to read YOUR blog, where I can read more of the same. I'm not interested.

seattle citizen said...

Dora, I agree that charters will be pushed big in the next few months. As we've seen with our state's sucking up to RTT, the changes are a-comin' (unless the public continues to be informed, and stands up for what's right.

Anonymom, in answer to what's wrong with TFA, I paraphrase Charlie:
Should we de-professionalize the medical profession? Law? So why would we consider making teaching something that one can pick up in one's spare time, a sort of hobby (particularly since TFAs are demonsttably mobile, with what, only 34% staying past their second contracted year?

The idea is that we have a rigorous program (one year, or one and a half) post graduate that demands students do some serious work before we certify them. Like a lawyer needs to do the hard work for a JD, a doctor a Phd...The course work might vary, some tough, some not so tough, but we expect our lawyers, our doctors, our teachers to have the commitment to do that work to get the degree. By making it a five-week program, we are demeaning the profession.

I have serious doubts that a five week session can give a person enough background to hit the ground running. In the TFA model, with standardized tests assessing standardized curriculum served to standardized students, perhaps, but how then does a teacher learn, beforehand, the required coursework on Special Ed, on lesson planning, on all the various aspects of teaching? In TFA (and, apparently, the new state "alternative route") this is foisted off on the existing staff - "mentorship" is used instead of classwork. Now, I'm all in favor of mentorship, a great thing, but not as a substitute for a teacher first learning some basics. (Who will pay the mentors the thousands of dollars, in lieu of paying the colleges the thousands of dollars? Mentor teachers, by law, get no more than $500. What a deal.)

Then, again, there's the churn: TFA is a two-year contract. They can crow about how they create people interested in life-long...interest...in education, but the fact is most will move on. So we churn these half-trained "teachers" through the poorest schools...what a deal for the students.

Lastly, the connections among the "reformers" are not to be dismissed - they have an agenda, and TFA is intertwined with it. It's like the frog in water you slowly boil...first it's WASL, then MAP, then it's "aligned" curriculum, then it's TFA, then it's charters....Oh, look, we've been boiled alive? Who knew?

Unfortunately, this is going on as we speak. City power brokers, state power brokers, federal power brokers, minority community power brokers, business community power brokers...all have slowly turned up the heat (themselves the frog, perhaps, as many have good hearts but are misinformed, in my opinion...by othe power brokers...)

We are in "Phase Three" of perhaps four, now, and while the pendulum is swinging back to rationality, this monster has been running down the path towards us, gaining strength, for many years. It'll take some effort to knock it down. We WILL knock it down, but unless we are strong now, it will cause much more damage before we kill it.

peonypower said...

In the Center for Reinventing Public Education research- 33% 0f the teachers for charter schools are hired from programs such as TFA. No, we do not have TFA or charters in Seattle - yet- but that is the push. Having TFA in the district is one step closer to charter schools.

In the research I have found 80% of TFA teachers either leave education or if they stay they leave their initial placement.

In addition- the numbers that TFA and the media hype are ridiculous. TFA teacher 14-17% improvement in math scores and the regular teacher is 13-16%- is that a phenomenal gain? I think not. I have not been able to find any solid data that shows TFA teachers have consistent improvement on test scores, and oh yeah - are test scores the be all and end all of education.

I can attest that it takes at least 3 years to really get a handle on teaching, and most TFA candidates have left the profession by then.

As to how long it takes to become a teacher? I have 5 years of undergraduate and then an additional 1 1/2 years of teacher training. The shortest graduate program for teacher cert. in Seattle is one year. 5 weeks- bah- that is a joke and an insult.

I for one will be down at JSCC holding a rally if they decide to vote in TFA.

seattle citizen said...

anonymom, TFA and Broad and Gates all go hand in hand. It's pretty hard to hear about one while ignoring the others. Unless that's what you want, in which case you'll need to block one ear. Not what I would recommend.

What more is there to know about TFA? They undermine the profession. They're not, in my opinion, good for students. What do you need to know? I'm very curious, because there's plenty of information out there. Do you think they are a good thing for education, and if so, why?

seattle citizen said...

Peonypower encapsulates the argument against TFA:

It is an old saw, but quite true from what I hear, that it DOES take three to five years to hit one's stride as a teacher, yet TFA "teachers" are gone in two.

How on earth could that be a good thing?

The strangest disconnect ever is the one that plagues the reform movement: Out of one side of their mouth they shout, "teacher quality!" and out of the other, "Teach For America!"
It's strange, I don't know why they do that, unless the intent is merely to undermine public school teachers, no matter how nonsensical the shouting.

anonymom said...

Thank you SC, and Peonypower for some relevant information on TFA.

I am certainly not pro-TFA, but I like to have information before making any decisions on where I stand, and this is the first I'm hearing about TFA. So lots to learn.

anonymom said...

"What do you need to know? I'm very curious, because there's plenty of information out there. Do you think they are a good thing for education, and if so, why?"

What do I need to know? Everything. I don't know enough about TFA to make any kind or judgement pro or con, that's why I was asking for more information here, and trying to do a bit of research on my own.

I don't want my kid in a class with a brand new TFA teacher, with 5 weeks of training. But I also am not crazy about my kids teacher being an SPS "force hire" from the displaced pool - that no other school wanted. Whats the worse of the two evils?

As for the 5 weeks of training, TFA teachers get, I understand that it is 8 hour per day for 5 weeks, totaling 200 hours. Standard teachers go to a one year program to become certified, but how many hours do they actually spend in teacher specific classes? A few hours per week? It may not be all that much more than a TFA teacher, but again, I'm not sure about that. Just things I'm thinking about.

As to TFAs Broad and Gates connections, well, I'm just not in the camp of everything Gates does is bad or evil. I am open to looking at each endeavor and opportunity individually, and evaluating each one on a case by case basis - as I am trying to do with TFA.

And as for only 34% of TFA teachers remaining in the teaching field past two years, well that's not good. I hate that just when they are becoming experienced, they can leave. But I wonder, how many traditional teachers stay in the field after two years, five years? I've never seen those statistics.

Central Mom said...

Talk about circular thinking...Geoffrey Canada, eloquent reformer and founder of Harlem's Children Zone...Geoffrey HIMSELF said in the reformist-friendly Waiting for Superman that he wasn't the teacher he needed to be until Year 3 of teaching.

For myself, I think TFA would theoretically work fine as IAs *in some cases*...but if at the teacher level they mostly churn and burn after 2 years, that's troubling.

seattle citizen said...

anonymom, you write,
"But I also am not crazy about my kids teacher being an SPS "force hire" from the displaced pool - that no other school wanted. Whats the worse of the two evils?"

Um, displaced teachers are merely displaced - their program closed or numbers went down. Doesn't mean they're bad teachers. That is a misnomer, that displaced teachers are "bad" and no one wants them. Principals might not want to be forced to take a teacher, sure, who would? but that doesn't mean the teacher is bad. Many principals pick up displaced teachers willingly, others are more protective and want to build their own teams...(which is another discussion...the free market of teachers discussion....) but it's simply not true that displaced teachers are "bad."

TFA teachers, I suppose, would be an unknown quality. But if I were deciding, I would go with experience, and with a teacher who had the drive and will and commitment to earn their credential.

wseadawg said...

Whither TFA is not the question. It's why TFA? And why now? From where does this purported "need for TFA arise?" May I suggest a time-worn technique for uncovering the answer: Follow the money.

Gates was recently in Toronto shilling for the idea that we should reduce retiree teachers pensions. What's a matter Bill? Windows 7 not selling well enough?

Union labor will never be popular with billionaires, and certainly not with the ones pimping their national education policy with Arne Duncan as their chief carnival barker.

Honestly, the whole thing is just sad. Anyone who hasn't seen this coming has been asleep. It's not complicated at all. TFA is a great Disney movie that will always dupe people into believing in magic. Sure, 2 years of service is laudable. Fine. But it's also a great way to undermine and weaken a union, which is key to their deployment.

What 23 year old college grad won't work 100 hours a week at a new job? Who can't do that at 23? But what about at 30? What about after getting married? Having kids? Getting sick? Etc. So is TFA a sustainable model? Absolutely not. So why would Seattle, which laid off teachers need TFA? They don't.

Remember it was the the "best & brightest" who led us into Vietnam too.

Where there is a bona fide shortage or need for teachers, by all means, bring in the stop gap that is TFA. But that is all TFA is, or will ever be, by design.

And yes, the legislature opened the door and can of worms for this last year. I tried to warn people, and so did Dora, repeatedly, but nobody seemed interested, while the Seattle PTSA/CVS/CPPS/etc folks marched forward toward building this Frankenstein's monster. I hope this is what people in SPS wanted, because they played right into the hands of the hacks and pols, and especially, the Education Reform Industry folks who got exactly the language they wanted and needed in the legislation. Seattle wanted this, they can all say, thanks to all those kind words of support from our PTSA and others.

Dora Taylor said...

Anonymom,

You forgot to add that 80% of the TFA recruits leave after three years.

If you had checked out the links on SeattleEd you would know that. You have said with just about every post that you want to know as much as possible about TFA but you're not doing that, really.

I also think that if you were a parent of a child in SPS that you would be alarmed that there would be unqualified teachers teaching your children.

I am starting to question who you are and remaining anonymous gives me adequate reason to question who you are.

Dora Taylor said...

Anonymom,

Directing you to our blog is the easiest way for you to get information.

I am not doing that for money or out of any sort of ego.

Anyone who knows me can attest to that.

It would bore most people who read this blog for me to provide links or full quotes for you.

I have done that in the past and do not desire to be redundant.

As I stated in our first blog, "Our goal is to have an informed public on issues that affect us in Seattle as it relates to public school education."

That's all and that's it.

If you really want to inform yourself, come to the forum with Diane Ravitch Tuesday evening. Then, maybe, we can have an informed conversation.

Sahila said...

Broad and Gates and Kopp are sitting there right now, nodding and smiling smugly as their agenda is almost fully implemented in oh so savvy (not) Seattle... with barely a voice raised in protest, right under our very (not so very sophisticated after all) noses...

What a bunch of naive, gullible fools we all are....

So busy fighting for our own bits of turf that we didnt - WOULDNT, REFUSED TO - see the bigger picture - or we decried as paranoid and ignored those who tried to tell us what was coming...

The evidence is all around us as this same pattern plays out around the country - there to see in plain view and plain language on Broad's own website, in all the blogs written by other parents in other cities who have had this happen there before it got to us... all the warnings there for us, but we chose to ignore them...

And what a bunch of whiners without the backbone to get out there and actually do something to stop this...

Its not too late - you have about six months to stop this... but it will take lots of noise and real action - WTO kind of action - public, loud, embarrassing for the district and for Broad/Gates...

Recalling Directors wont do it... too late

Voting in new directors wont do it - too late...

Kay Smith Blum wont do it - one of 7 doesnt have the influence to stop MGJ and all the astro-turf lobby groups...

Voting against the levy wont do it - a drop in the ocean and the money will be made up by Gates/Broad somehow who wont let such a small amount of cash get in the way... heck, they've spent billions on this agenda already, whats a few more million?

Talking to the state reps in Olympia, or voting in your own favourites wont do it - the lobby groups with their Gates/Broad money have gotten there first...

Who will step up for real, active protest?

Or will you just sit back, complaining, sighing, giving up and go along for this ride which will destroy thousands of our kids' futures, and escape to private schools if you can?

anonymom said...

Dora, since you claim to know so much about TFA, how about you just answer some of the questions that I asked in my earlier posts? Don't you think that would be much more helpful than your long winded posts questioning who I am?

Sahila said...

anonymom... why dont you spend some time educating yourself, instead of asking Dora to reiterate all that you can already find on the blog?

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/

Scroll down the sidebar on the right until you get to the category Teach for America...

some of us here have spent the better part of two years educating ourselves and posting what we have found here, and Dora and her co-editor put it all on their blog to save others the trouble...

why dont you go look and do some additional research elsewhere, before you dump on Dora?

http://campusprogress.org/articles/teach_for_america_dropouts/

http://www.dfpe.org/pdf/Barbara-Miner-Looking-Past-the-Spin-Teach-for-America-Spring-2010.pdf

Melissa Westbrook said...

I would appreciate if, when you are making your point or statement, that there is no name-calling involved.

Dora Taylor said...

Anonymom,

I visit this site occasionally so if I don't answer your questions it's because I have not read them.

And the reason that I am here now is because of something that you said about Wendy Kopp, it was that you said you didn't care how much money she made. My point about the money is that this ed reform industry, and it is becoming an industry, is made up of non-profits that are cashing in on RTTT. "Non-profit" charters, TFA, NEWA are making a lot of money off of the rest of us.

So, my point was don't think that just because an organization is a non-profit, that they are just doing it for the brownie points.

Now, I would be glad to answer your questions.

Is there something specific that you would like for me to address?

I will check back here later today to see if you have posted a question or two.

Have a great morning!

anonymom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

I'm sitting here trying to imagine what Sahila's active protest would look like and how's this? We parents show up at JSCEE on 9:00 on a Monday morning wearing tags that say "5 weeks training" and tell them we are there to do their jobs. Probably involves getting arrested...

anonymom said...

Why don't I go to Dora's blog? Well, I did, but I didn't find anything of substance. She posts her opinions about TFA, and that is fine, but I am looking for facts. I want data, and comparisons, and statistics. .

I'd like to hear what experience other non charter districts have had with TFA? Were they positive or negative? And why?

I'd like to know how many hours new SPS teachers spend in "teacher specific" classes during the year long certification program they attend? Is it comparable to TFA teachers @ 200 hours? Is it more, about the same, or less?

I'd like to know how and why the students of TFA teachers perform slightly better than the students of regular teachers (this is according to the TFA website, not sure if it is accurate or true).

I'd like to know how many new SPS teachers leave the teaching profession after 2 years, 3 years, 5 years? Is it comparable to TFAs 34% after 3 years?

I wonder if a young, enthusiastic, freshly trained TFA teacher, might be a better option for my child than an experienced, but "force hired" SPS teacher from the displaced pool?

These are some of my questions. I'm working on finding out some answers, and am doing some research.

If Dora knows the answers to some of my questions, I welcome her to provide them.

Sahila said...

Anonymom... when you find them, why dont you report all those interesting data points back to the blog, as we others have done with what we have found out....

No doubt we'd be most appreciative...

Sahila said...

Chris - I think my 30+ years of parenting and volunteering in schools qualifies me to be a teacher... I need a job... give me one of the ones that'll be reserved for a TFA... where do I join the queue?

Sahila said...

Chris - I've got a cert in broadcast journalism.... I'll teach language arts... and you're a statistician right? You can teach math...

Chris said...

Anonymom, I was also looking at TFA's website research page yesterday. One thing to note is that the effect sizes are small, and at least half the citations (skewed toward the ones who find an effect) are not peer-reviewed.

Also, on Dora's blog, links to references are on the right. You have to scroll waaaaay down but there's a section on TFA with one very nice peer-reviewed paper.

Without knowing a lot of details about the TFA training, I don't think we can answer you about how it compares to teacher certification.

What I wanted to know is the TFA results in EDM (Everyday Math) districts. That the TFA effect is limited to math is very interesting, and one might suspect that TFA "graduates," not being steeped in constructivist math, do more direct instruction, which would be good for test scores (I am undecided about whether it's good for learning.)

In general, for the rest of your questions, TFA teachers are similar in performance and retention to teachers in demographically similar schools which likely includes more rookie teachers, but not certificated teachers in general. This suggests that TFA cannot cure poverty. Darn...

It's also worth noting from the TFA website they are clearly focused on serving lower-income schools. So which SPS schools would be eligible? Where's the community engagement for those communities?

Chris said...

Sahila, I was thinking more of MGJ's job for you. I'm an analyst, I'll take Bernatek's. Meg for CFO, Melissa for COO/Facilities/Capital...Hmmm, who can take over governance training for the board?

another mom said...

anonymom from the WSU website,

"Student teaching is an entire semester of full time teaching at an approved WSU site in the state of Washington or internationally with supervision by an approved WSU provider."

They at least get classroom experience prior to being hired. Not sure if TFA does anything in their summer training that is equivalent.

http://education.wsu.edu/tl/programs/

anonymom said...

All good points, Chris, especially the reference to comparing TFA performance in math to other EDM districts - apples to apples.

Thanks also to, anothermom. I think you are right - it is a huge plus for certification to have a teacher trainee spend a full semester interning in a classroom, under the supervision of an experienced mentor teacher.

Teachers need education too. said...

Thank goodness for courts.
The 9th circuit issued and opinion last week that could be a real monkey wrench for the TFA crowd. The case concerned whether uncertified "teachers" (like TFA teachers) are "highly qualified" to teach in Title I schools. If they are not, then the schools are out of compliance with No Child Left Behind and are not eligible for Title I dollars.

Here's a link to a story about the case:

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

Sahila said...

Reminder: Forum with Diane Ravitch tonight at 7:00 at Seattle University

See http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2010/09/21/forum-with-diane-ravitch-press-release/
for more details

Teachers get 3 clock hours credit....

Free for everyone, all welcome...

Sahila said...

and you do know that TFAs will cost the district around $2,500 each, in "placement" fees, dont you? That's on top of their salary (around $50K) plus benefits...

"Large-scale, peer-reviewed studies in Arizona and Texas - conducted under the auspices of prestigious research laboratories, involving thousands of teachers and over 100,000 students - show that the program's teachers are almost as good as poorly qualified (that is, uncertified) teachers at raising kids' reading scores and a bit better at raising kids' math scores.

But when comparing the program's teachers with fully qualified teachers, it's a different story. A 2010 study called Teach For America: A Review of the Evidence found "standard certified teachers consistently outperformed uncertified Teach For America teachers with comparable experience in similar settings."

Each study comes to about the same conclusion: The program's teachers are slightly better than the least prepared but far worse than the fully prepared. When the program's teachers take additional course work in education and get additional supervision, mentoring and experience, they improve.

Why is this? Because teaching takes YEARS to master and cannot be learned in a few weeks before school starts."

http://queensteacher2.blogspot.com/2010/08/teach-for-america-bad-deal-for-public.html

Sahila said...

Read here:

Teach for America, A Review of the Evicence

Chris said...

Oops, my planned protest has a flaw - we are waaaaay to experienced to be analogous to TFA. It would have to be Sahila being an analyst, me being the supe. We'll call ourselves AFA - Administrate for America.

My new idea, Sahila, is that we apply to TFA! A few weeks and we could be making 50K! I was certainly good and bright in my day although perhaps the Univ. of Iowa is not elite enough. More likely we'd end up suing them for age discrimination...

wseadawg said...

Anonymom: That 34% leave after 3 years # seems awfully low compared to the percentages I looked at a year or two ago. Regardless, it is true that a high percentage of TFA teachers are in charter schools nationwide, and charters themselves purge themselves of huge percentages of kids who can't keep up with the rigor, then pat themselves on the backs for their high graduation rates. Cooking the books like that is absolutely scandalous and fraudulent. In Florida, for example, another pro Ed Reform state, they were aggressively counseling failing students to take GEDs, then wiping them off the books, so it looked like they were improving their graduation rates. NYC is a hotbed of similar shell games and tricks to inflate graduation rates and build momentum for the Ed Reform agenda. So my advice is to google alot, educate yourself, and DO NOT take people at their word in this context, because they are not telling the truth.

I would suggest that the high impact rates you're seeing with TFA grads are partially inflated by the kids who go missing from their classes and are then purged from the records of their charter schools. If it seems to good to be true...

There are no magic solutions.

Sahila said...

@chris... yes, lets apply... and when we are turned down, in addition to the age discrimination I wonder if I could sue them for discrimination by calling my perimenopausal fog a disability????

another mom said...

Wsedawg -scroll up to Sahila's 7:38 AM post from this morning. There is a link to a review that says looking past the spin. The percentages that TFA quotes are from alums who self report what they are doing. The percentage of those who say that they stay in education is much lower than they report.

another mom said...

Wseadawg -better yet Sahila's 11:17 post with link. Based on what I just read re: the cost associated with the high attrition of TFA, SPS cannot afford them.