Friday, November 19, 2010

Important to Note on TFA

I'm reprinting what Charlie has state (and is true) and, that staff could have, but not clearly delineate to the Board (especially during KSB questioning about hiring).

"The District staff said, on several occasions, that the Teach for America corps members will only be in the Phase III hiring pool. They won't be in Phase I or Phase II.

No. They won't. But not because of the contract and not because the District won't allow them into the Phase I and Phase II pool, but because there won't be a Phase I or a Phase II hiring period at any of the schools where they want to teach.

One of the elements of the District's Performance Management System dictates that Level 1 and Level 2 schools - those which are under-performing - will go straight to Phase III hiring.

Let's remember that Teach for America corps members are only interested in working in low-income communities, which are the schools south of I-90 and the schools in the far north. These are also the schools which are in Level 1 or Level 2 for Performance Management.

So there won't be two rounds of internal hiring that come before the Teach for America corps members can enter the candidate pool. They will be among the first to apply and be considered for those jobs."

Here's a few other updates:

TFA jumped a big hurdle getting SPS. BUT, they still don't have everything they need to get here. How close they are, I don't know. I suspect fairly close but they need to get it done by Jan. 2011. These other factors:
  • TFA still needs to get an agreement with at least one more district. (It was interesting because a former TFAer who is now the assistant super for Edmonds testified and said he wished he could bring them there. I'm thinking it's the money that holds people back. Just to note the national average that TFA charges per teacher is $1500; Seattle is paying $4k and Federal Way, $3k.)
  • They need to place at least 50 more corps members in other schools districts. Their goal is something like 150 TFAers throughout the Puget Sound area.
  • They need a university partner to certify the recruits. So who might they get? Well, UW's Dean of Ed is a former TFAer but that might look like a conflict of interest. (I will find out who he reports to and we can send e-mails strongly opposing UW's "adoption" of TFA.) Seattle University has a College of Education; I can't seem them supporting TFA. University Center of North Puget Sound sponsors WWU's education program so probably not them as well. St. Martin's also has a teaching program. Maybe University of Puget Sound? Who else?
  • They need to raise almost $1M. The Seattle Foundation says they need $5.2M in private sector funding. The report in the Seattle Times says they have raised about $4.1M from Seattle Foundation, Gates, Raikes Foundation and Bezos Foundation.
To note, unlike Federal Way which has signed up to hire between 5-10, Seattle made no guarantees of employment. It might be an interesting exercise to combine Kay's research with principals and expand it to all the principals with high poverty schools. Survey all of them and you might get an idea how many might have willing principals agreeable to TFA recruits (although I believe all the principals would be fair in looking for the best person for their school). I also still believe these principals will get the word to make sure that TFAers are interviewed.

What is interesting is that TFA and the Board were touting that they bring diversity, using stats on their last national pool of applicants. That's great but there is NO guarantee that the national pool will reflect who applies here. They don't start recruiting until January for Seattle-area positions but I'm sure this will be a more popular place than Detroit or the Bronx (in terms of the work, not the place).

I may have missed pointing out that SPS teacher Matt Carter spoke at the Board meeting against TFA. It was pretty funny because he was using the NCTQ report. He said first, he did not like being referred to as "human capital". Two, he quoted a relevant section of the report that said the district should minimize hiring first year teachers as they are the least effective.

Yet another good example of the cherry-picking that goes on in this district.

36 comments:

chunga said...

Kay indicated to me that she thought few TFA recruits would be hired. I hope she's right. It will be interesting to see if the district attempts to skip to phase III to ensure TFA meets its goal of 25 or so. Will be worth watching closely.

Kathy said...

Organizations like TFA are slick. They can't be trusted. TfA didn't lie, but certainly (during public testimony) circumvented details.

Nice work by their highly paid attorneys. Nice attempt at public deception.

Are these the people we want in our schools? I say- not.

The Devil is always in the detail.

At some point, MGJ can intervene in under-performing schools. How will this play out?

StopTfA said...

So KSB would risk the alienation of hundreds of teachers for...what?

StopTfASeattle@gmail.com

Melissa Westbrook said...

StopTFA, I have to say it does seem a little odd that none of the Directors have ever (to my knowledge) said anything publicly about the vote of no confidence in terms of what it must mean for teachers to have done that. Then, they vote in TFA with no real outreach to teachers or community.

So if we have 4 incumbents who run again next fall, they have a teachers union that is not very happy with them. That's a lot to run against given that teachers are usually willing to work hard for both levies and School Board elections.

It seemed from the news reports from Sacramento's School Board elections, that the teachers were a large and hard-working bloc who may have turned the election there.

And, as the teachers union goes, sometimes so go the other district unions. That's a lot of people voting against you as well as working against you.

Something to remember. You may be able to buy your way into the district as TFA has but you can't buy votes. Ask Meg Whitman.

wseadawg said...

RePost from earlier TFA blog;

So Harium says TFA won't close the achievement gap. But the CAO and SI say that's the key legal reason and necessity for TFA. So, Harium debunks and doesn't buy the district's sole rationale for TFA, but votes for it anyways.

What else is in his quiver, I wonder?

-----------------------------------------

Does it bother anyone that we're talking about the rule of law here? State law requires shortages or highly qualified experts. So the district says TFA are HQ & the justifying need is to attack the Achievement Gap, which Harium says TFA won't close. Huh?

How can you vote for it if you disagree with the very premise for TFA's being here: closing the Achievement Gap? Hello!

I don't believe it will work, therefore I vote in favor of it.

Are you kidding?

Maureen said...

They need a university partner to certify the recruits.

I noticed recently that the South Shore Interim Principal has a Masters in Teaching from Heritage University I had never heard of it so I looked it up, it seems like they have a campus at South Seattle Community College. Does anyone know anything about it?

wseadawg said...

No, you can't buy votes. But in a one-newspaper town, you can buy one hell of a lot of influence.

I suggest we publicly demand the School Board Members running for re-election agree not to take money from corporate donors and out-of-district millionaires with no kids in the public schools.

That big money, well-intended or not, is the root of all of these bad decisions. They aren't going to listen to parents when their benefactors want otherwise. Not-Gonna-Happen-Ever!

Either Sundquist, DeBell, Carr, Maier, and Martin-Morris refuse those "10k per Power-Couple" LEV donations, or we splatter the town with pics of them with strings on their limbs and dollar signs on their faces.

wseadawg said...

And before people start calling me a pinko-commie or anything else, let me state that I am thrilled that people want to give money to our schools to make a difference. The problem is where the money is going, which is largely to the wrong places, wrong initiatives, and wrong people.

Despite the LEV's best intentions, their efforts are wreaking havoc on my family and community as I watch the strongest programs in our district get watered down, torn apart, and destroyed altogether for the misguided notion that because some kids suffer in the system, the entire system has to be changed. No, No NOOOO!

The strong schools need to be emulated replicated, not broken up and re-wired. This is crazy.

Please, LEV folks, STOP FUNDING INITIAVES TO "FIX" WHAT'S ALREADY WORKING! Give your money to the schools, teachers, and students that need it most, & stop trying to remake the entire district into some fanciful world that's never existed. It failed in Chicago. It failed in DC. It's failing in New York. Top Down Reforms do more harm than good.

SC Parent said...

wseadog: Yes!

MelissaNeverStops said...

I will make some final points so it goes on record and I'll have one more thread with answers from TFA national on some questions I put to them. Then I'll take my TFA efforts off-line. - THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2010 7:04am

Is this one your final post? Or is there more to come, still? I'm sure looking forward to you going offline about this.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's an important distinction between us and the District.

We follow through. We stay with issues all the way through to the results and we report the results.

So you can expect more information about Teach for America as the story continues to unfold.

dan dempsey said...

"Yet another good example of the cherry-picking that goes on in this district."

This Board refuses to make evidence based decisions at most every opportunity.

I only had 3 minutes to testify. There were some amazing fact filled testimonies from several speakers opposing TfA.

At the recall sufficiency hearing on Thursday Lawrence Ransom spoke for the 4 directors and said that this hearing was an "abuse" of the directors. The directors "were being abused" by a stream of various legal actions because they fail to have mathematics taught in a way that Mr. Dempsey wishes.

That might well be the belief of several directors who fail to read what I send them. Each director made a declaration on 11-16-10 that was submitted to Judge Inveen. In those declarations they clearly missed the large volume on non-math related performance failures at established NTN schools: BizTech in Portland, Welby in Colorado, and New Tech Sacramento. Two of those three are NTN demonstration schools.

Not only are these directors influenced by something other than evidence. Their declarations can be added to the stream of circulating fairy-tales .... more disinformation.

Kate Martin who actively sought the recall of Director Carr with her filing replied: It is the directors who abuse the public by their failure to make evidence based decisions.

Joy Anderson, who actively sought the recall of H M-M, SC, and SS with her filing said: my child is on her third school in three years, I advocate for not just myself but so many children and families that are not served by the poor decision-making of the board.

Well we lost the Sufficiency hearing because we failed to show that the directors intentionally failed to follow laws of which they were aware.

Make no mistake they failed to follow laws but that is not sufficient grounds for recall.

Judge Inveen although finding the filing insufficient said:
"As activists you perform an important function in bringing light upon actions. You place actions into the public view, which otherwise would be buried"

The Board's TfA approval needs a much more public viewing.

So where was the evidence the Board used in arriving at this decision?

I have yet to see it.

StopTfA said...

MelissaNeverStops,

Nobody's forcing you to read anything... Hah, caught you lookin'!

stoptfaseattle@gmail.com

AIEC said...

Heritage University is located in Toppenish on the Yakama Reservation. Lovingly reffered to as "Trailer Park U," because it is mostly portables.

brainstorming said...

Sorry for the cross-post, but I put this in a thread that I see now is mostly dead. Better here.

Melissa said: "I asked if the district would be making sure that all parents with TFA teachers will understand about their FERPA rights.

Do you know what the parental rights really are in this particular situation? Parents should be able to opt out of any personally identifiable data about their children being given out to any 3rd party, right? That includes test scores, videography, anything.

Knowing exactly what the rules are and making sure that each and every parent in an affected school or classroom understands their rights is really important. In fact, if you could get close to 100% of the families in these buildings to opt out, would that be enough disincentive for TfA to reevaluate their push here in Seattle?

The "upon request from the District" is a complete crock. I don't believe they will request the data to be returned or destroyed, and I don't believe the Board will hold them to it. I don't even know if I trust TfA to completely destroy data if they're asked.

Perhaps I don't understand FERPA completely, but if this is a remotely viable option maybe we could get some groups to go out in person to visit with families. I would be willing to help inform families and help them sign FERPA-compliant documents, to whatever degree it makes sense. It might be tricky because the district isn't going to tell us where the teachers are in advance, and many parents sign documents without knowing what they're signing. Does FERPA allow a parent to change their preference mid-year? Or after one month?

Thoughts?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Brainstorming, they got rid of the third party stuff (thank goodness) but there is still a provision that allows TFA to have student identifiable data which has to be requested by the district to be returned or destroyed.

My goal is make sure all parents in those classes know their rights and know how important it is to sign FERPA. It's not a problem to find out where the teachers are but finding the parents is a little more tricky. I have some thoughts on that but that's for another time.

brainstorming said...

I saw that the 3rd party stuff was removed, and that's a good first step. But I'd really like to know just how much data transfer can be stopped by parents via FERPA.

Can't parents opt out of sending any and all personally identifiable of their children to a non SPS organization? I don't know what data they intend to take, but I would absolutely refuse to allow SPS to send anything about my kid: test scores, videography, nothing. See where I'm going? If 2 or 3 families opt out in a classroom they can work around that, but if entire classrooms opt out, might that be enough to dissuade TfA from their goals?

It's not a problem to find out where the teachers are but finding the parents is a little more tricky. I have some thoughts on that but that's for another time.

Keep us apprised. When the time comes I'd like to help.

uxolo said...

Thanks for your work, Dan.

I am confused about the answer the HR person couldn't quite spit out at the Board mtg. about hiring TFA.

Can you guys (Charlie and Melissa) please explain again how the most likely affected schools will go right to the Phase III of hiring. I think Betty would appreciate hearing this and I think that Kay might want to know if this is something deliberately hidden from the Board. The rest of the gang only wants more reelection funding.

Charlie Mas said...

The stated focus of the Performance Management initiative is to bring more resources to bear in "struggling" schools. The District wants to give them all kinds of advantages. One of those advantages would be some leeway in hiring.

So schools that are identified as Level 1 or Level 2 in the District's Performance Management System don't have to hire teachers in Phase I or Phase II. They get to jump straight to Phase III, with the broadest possible pool of applicants.

Which are the schools in Level 1 and Level 2 of Performance Management? They are all of the under-performing schools in low-income communities.

Which are the schools where Teach for America corps members will apply? They will apply at all of the under-performing schools in low-income communities.

So, all of the schools where Teach for America corps members will apply will go straight to Phase III hiring. There is no Teach for America corps member who will have to wait out Phase I or Phase II.

All of the talk about Teach for America candidates not even getting a chance to apply until Phase III is completely misleading. They won't even apply at any school with Phase I and Phase II hiring periods and the schools where they will apply will go straight to Phase III in the spring.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

Charlie,

What is the basis for your saying that Level 1 or 2 schools go straight to Phase 3 hiring? Where exactly does it say that?

Dorothy Neville said...

It was right on one of the slides at one of the presentations at the Nov 17th board meeting. I don't remember which one, but it did speak of SIG schools going directly to phase 3. It went by quickly. Now I really thought it said SIG schools in particular. Are all the level one and two schools SIG? I am afraid I do not have time to look for that slide right now but I KNOW it was shown Nov 17th.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ditto, I saw it as well.

Kathy said...

" MelissaNeverStops said...
I will make some final points so it goes on record and I'll have one more thread with answers from TFA national on some questions I put to them. Then I'll take my TFA efforts off-line. - THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2010 7:04am"

Melissa,

Please don't stop talking. I'm interested in learning the manner in which TfA plays out during the hiring process- Particularily, in Level 1 schools.

Thanks.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

The reason I ask about the question of Level 1 schools and Phase 1, 2 and 3 hiring is because hiring should be covered under the collective bargaining agreement. The collective bargaining agreement does not say that Level 1 and 2 schools go straight to Phase 3 hiring.

It does address what happens if a Level 1 school has remained at Level 1 for three years. Under those conditions, SPS can intervene. The current staff will be offered a contract to stay, but they must commit to "any adjustment in curriculum or instruction as required by SPS and reflected in the CSIP adopted for the following academic year."

If they don't do that, then they vacate their position and enter the displacement pool. Any vacated positions then go to Phase I hiring, but skip Phase 2 hiring if no displaced employee fills the position.

This is the first year that any Level 1 school is in Level 1. Therefore, SPS intervention wouldn't happen to a Level 1 school for 2 more school years. Thus, for the next two years, no TFA candidate could fill a vacated position that went into Phase 3 hiring.

The interesting question is what happens if there are RIF'd employees who could fill the position at Phase 1. RIF'd teachers seem to fill positions during Phase 2. Does that mean that a vacated position could move to Phase 3 without a RIF'd teacher filling it? Does that mean a RIF'd teacher would have to compete with all other Phase 3 candidates? Or will this be the subject of a grievance between the SEA and SPS? Or something else?

Melissa Westbrook said...

LA, this:

"Does that mean that a vacated position could move to Phase 3 without a RIF'd teacher filling it? Does that mean a RIF'd teacher would have to compete with all other Phase 3 candidates?"

That's an excellent question. My first impression would be yes, a RIF'ed teacher would have to compete with all others in Phase 3 and that a vacated position in a Title 1 school could be moved to Phase III.

But you know what? This is SEA's job. They are supposed to worry about this stuff and I don't think they fought back enough here. That's on them.

Dorothy Neville said...

Here is the pertinent presentation.

See slide four:

What is the Hiring Process?

Phase III hiring starts at different times:

School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools (3) go immediately into Phase III, skipping I & II

Per the teacher contract, Level 1 schools start in Phase I and move to Phase III, skipping Phase II

All other schools start in Phase I, move to Phase II and end in Phase III

Therefore the Phase III process starts earlier for SIG & Level 1 schools

Dorothy Neville said...

If I understand LA Teacher's Warehouse properly, then the slide is misleading in that the Level 1 schools will eventually have earlier Phase 3 hiring, but not for next year. Therefore the only three schools that TfA can apply for early are the three in SIG. Aren't they Cleveland, Hawthorne and WSE?

If TfA sticks around for a while, then eventually they could be in the same pool as RIFed teachers for Level 1 schools, since those schools will be bypassing Phase 2.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

Dorothy,

Thank you for the slide reference. I hadn't seen that.

I can find nothing in the bargaining agreement, nor in the Board report on TFA, nor in the TFA agreement that says anything at all about SIG or SIG schools. I see absolutely no special exemption for SIG schools in these documents.

I don't see how the district staff can claim that SIG schools go immediately into Phase 3 hiring. I have searched and searched in all three documents and I find no reference whatsoever to SIG. Period. So where does this staff assertion come from? I don't get it. What am I missing?

Charlie Mas said...

While it is true that schools have to be in Level 1 for three years for the District to invoke their "interventions", this is the third year. They say that 2008-2009 was year 1, 2009-2010 was year 2, and this year, 2010-2011 is year 3.

Dorothy Neville said...

Oh, yes, that rings a bell, that they are sort of backdating things to 2008. To me, seems like more of the slick strategy to deceive for their expansion plans, but how can one know for sure?

dan dempsey said...

Interesting that Harium said if even only one TfA teacher improves the situation for one class, it will make things worthwhile.

I guess it does not matter that for that one improved class there will likely be at least 5 that are worse than would be expected.

It is very clear that these directors do not have any idea how to evaluate research. They use the research and data is "mixed" because they fail to analyze research.

Maier said: "RIFed" teachers get first shot. .... Really? .. seems that a lot of low-income schools go directly to phase 3 hiring.

Is Peter right or wrong?

Carr said:
"One of the research documents said: If you are looking to close the achievement gap, it is important to invest strategically in evidence based "reform options". I believe that we are doing that through the work in our strategic plan"

Interesting "research" (?) "document" .....was that a data based document or an opinion based document?

What happens when districts actually use data from "Project Follow Through" and/or Hattie's "Visible Learning" to determine an evidence based path to improvement? Is the reform model superior? Prove it.

I think the District continues to prove the exact opposite. Directors and Central Administrators ignore recommendations for instructional materials and strategies known to work preferring to continue with a failing reform based direction.

... So ...The opinions of the public are mixed. Who cares about public opinions? How is that working out? Any chance intelligent decision-making could trump wind-direction?

Well it is good to know that the SPS believes in reform options. So how is that working out?

There is this continuing belief that the Strategic Plan will make a difference.

What I heard coming from directors was how dissatisfied they are with current outcomes. So what is the plan to deal with unsatisfactory results? .... seems to be the Strategic Plan ... any evidence that is anything more than belief in fairy-tales?

dan dempsey said...

I really liked what KS-B had to say.

I would actually buy the ksb plan 100% if the principals and the Superintendent were financially penalized when TfA teachers perform below par. This money should be a substantial amount and will be distributed as compensation to families that had children poorly served by the district with this experiment, which has essentially no research to indicate it will be successful. Since the Superintendent is so generously compensated and this is her proposal she should be penalized at twice the rate the principals will be.

Let me see 30 kids and each family gets $1000 so $30,000 needed per substandard teacher. $10,000 from principal and $20,000 from superintendent. At high school Six period day and teacher teaches 5 classes so if a student is in one TfA teacher's class and that teacher performs below standard. Family will receive $200.

Granted this is insufficient compensation for damage but it is a step toward finally holding the Superintendent accountable for something. It should motivate
principals to closely analyze hiring decisions and not just hire TfA to make the BIG BOSS happy.

I like my plan a lot better than Peter Maier's accountability after three years.

rascal said...

What exactly is a level 1 school? What is a SIG school?

Maureen said...

rascal, Level 1 schools are schools identified to have low performance and low growth. See this segmentation report. There are 13 of them.

SIG schools are the three schools that received "School Improvement Grant" money: Hawthorne, WS Elementary and Cleveland HS.

dan dempsey said...

Lets us examine the TfA contract approved 6-1 by the school board.
Try this RCW 28A.660.005

(1) The legislature finds and declares:

(a) Teacher qualifications and effectiveness are the most important influences on student learning in schools;

(b) Preparation of individuals to become well-qualified, effective teachers must be high quality;

{ 5 quality weeks is that high quality? }

(c) Teachers who complete high-quality alternative route programs with intensive field-based experience, adequate coursework, and strong mentorship do as well or better than teachers who complete traditional preparation programs;

{ Hey what about those just beginning an alternative route? Is that close enough to completing? }

(d) High-quality alternative route programs can provide more flexibility and expedience for individuals to transition from their current career to teaching;

{ I had no idea that "College Student" was a current career. }

(e) High-quality alternative route programs can help school districts fill subject matter shortage areas and areas with shortages due to geographic location;

{ No shortage in Seattle. }

(f) Regardless of route, all candidates for residency teacher certification must meet the high standards required by the state; and

{ So is Randy Dorn an accomplice in the SPS end run around the Law? What high Standards have been met?}

(g) Teachers need an adequate background in subject matter content if they are to teach it well, and should hold full, appropriate credentials in those subject areas.

=====================

Clearly time to file an appeal in Federal Court using the California ruling as a foundation in seeking an immediate injunction against the signing of this discriminatory contract aimed at Special Education and Low-Income students.

Hey What is Up ... Randy Dorn?


-----
The preamble of article IX of the State Constitution states:
It is the paramount duty of the state 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.

So why are only students in low income schools and Special Education students the only Seattle Students likely to get stuck with TfA newbies?

Directors Carr, Smith-Blum, Martin-Morris, DeBell, Maier, and Sundquist please answer the question.

===========
Who among you six directors actually believes these newbies are Highly Qualified?

Melissa Westbrook said...

So this issue of when the TFAers may be hired might be a little of the district blowing smoke. Hiring practices are prescribed by collective bargaining. A quick look at the contract and it seems like what may be more likely to happen is that there will be a Phase I but then go right to Phase III. Meaning, Phase II is RIFed teachers. If no Phase II, then they go into the same group as the TFA recruits in Phase III.

This needs more research.