Friday, November 12, 2010

Just to Clear This TFA Public Engagement Issue

I asked for an expedited public disclosure over any documentation about what the district (not TFA) has done for public engagement about TFA. Here is the reply:

In response to your request below, I have learned that there are no documents related to community outreach done by Seattle Public Schools related to Teach for America. As was stated in the Community Engagement Process of the School Board Action regarding Teach for America, “TFA has done extensive community outreach about coming to the Puget Sound region….”
Also, I could not find any documents in the District’s possession (“minutes, meeting dates, lists of who were at the meetings, agendas, etc.” ) related to the meetings Teach for America had with outside agencies or groups.

So the district has done NO public engagement on this issue. And, the claim is that they never communicated in any way with TFA in setting up the contacts that TFA did. Or, if they did, there is absolutely no paper trail.

(Update: no matter how you feel about Teach for America, please remember this thread. Because someday there will be an issue that you feel strongly about, an issue you feel parents should be given information about BEFORE it is voted on, an issue that you feel should have the due process that all other motions do have. But you will have no standing to tell the Board they should have public engagement on your issue because you didn't tell them to vote down TFA when there was no district-led public engagement on it.)

Again, based just on this information, the Board should vote no.

19 comments:

peonypower said...

wow- that is amazing. Clearly there this is an issue that the board does not care about engaging the community with. When will they learn.

seattle citizen said...

So the district didn't talk to TFA before TFA did "public engagement"? The district didn't know who TFA was going to talk to, or talked to, until TFA came to the district and said, "Hey, we've talked to people about hring us, and they all think it's great!" and that's what is being touted in the School Board Action Report as "public engagement"?

That's just ridiculous.

That's like Hershey's Chocolate selling elementary school students on its product, then telling the superintendent how much people like its chocolate, then the superintendent telling the board that Hershey's has "publicly engaged" the community and the board should put candy machines back into schools.

Next thing you know, it'll be KIPP going around to LEV, OSC, P4E, A4E, Gates and, heck, Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan, then we'll see and SBAR on hiring KIPP touting ITS "public engagement."

Isn't this sort of like the NWEA fiasco? The superintendent went over to NWEA (oh, wait, she was already there, but nevermind) and chatting them up, then coming back to the board saying what a wonderful product they had, that the district had publicly engaged with a number of companies with similar products but, ya know, that MAP test is just so good!

Broad sells LEV which sells TFA which sells NWEA which sells KIPP which sells "eductors" their next rung up the corporate ladder and pay scale...

Nice work if you can get it...but oh yeah, it's not in the classroom. Let's profit off education instead of educate.

wseadawg said...

Folks: Cut and paste and e-mail that response to as many people as you possibly can.

This is the spirit in which SPS is operating because all of its astro-turf groups just happen to be chock full of its benefactors. Many obscene thoughts come to mind, but I'll tone things down and just refer to it as "incredibly incestuous, questionably legal" community engagement.

Honestly, is there anyone, anywhere, who has any interest in this district whatsoever, who is satisfied with the district calling this "community engagement?"

Up is down. Dark is light. How much more Orwellian does it have to get. This is absurdly ridiculous, indefensible, and an utterly unfunny joke on us, the community.

What will Mr. Apologist-In-Chief (SS) have to say about this one? I'm dying to hear it!

Sahila said...

Dear Seattle School board Directors...


You need to vote "NO" to bringing TFA into this city...

1: there is no need

2: there is no need and we dont have the money

3: there is no need, we dont have the money and you havent put the contract out to bid

4: there is no need, we dont have the money, you havent put the contract out to bid and you havent asked us what we think

5: there is no need, we dont have the money, you havent put the contract out to bid, you havent asked us what we think and its against the law - WAC 181-79A-231

6: there is no need, we dont have the money, you havent asked us what we think, its against the law and you will face several lawsuits if you go ahead, which you will loose, as happened in California ...

Vote NO to TFA on Wednesday....

Stu said...

Forgive me if I'm just missing something but I've got a stupid question. I was watching the rerun of the November 3rd School Board Meeting and something occurred to me, something I thought I saw someplace on these boards as well. Here goes:

Never mind whether or not TFA meets the strict interpretation of the permit issue . . . let's say, for this question, they do. In Washington State, non-certified "teachers" can apply for permits to teach. Therefore, again for the sake of my question, any TFA Candidate can request this permit and, assuming that permit is granted, can apply for any teaching position. Right so far?

So, why is there a contract? If TFA members are allowed, by law, to apply for the job, why is there a need for any sort of contract between the district and TFA? I know there's the issue of the $4000 fee but, since the board and TFA are going on and on about how that money's already privately available, why is the board contracting for anything?

And part two of my question; isn't one of the criteria for the special permit not having enough applicants in the applicant pool? If not, wasn't the point that these special permits were for people who had demonstrative special skills and, if so, regardless of how great a TFA member might be, how could they "demonstrate" this to the permit committee if they haven't taught in the classrooms before? (And aren't demonstrative skills even more important in at-risk communities and special ed classes?)

My questions aren't about quality or whether or not TFA should be here . . . I honestly don't understand how a TFA person could qualify for a permit AND I don't understand why the board has to have ANY sort of contract with TFA.

Anyone?

stu

Anonymous said...

A cut n paste of my comments from last week's open thread Friday. A week has passed and it is more crucial than ever to have this shocking story hit the media:


TFA's pros and cons should not be the takeaway of this week. The larger issue is the disgusting backroom dealing that went on right under our public noses and under the noses of the teacher's union while they were in negotiations.

Like MGJ, who refuses to see that her NWEA board membership was WRONG, I feel certain that most members of the board, the staff, MGJ and the Gates Foundation, as well as TFA, unfortunately see nothing wrong with deliberately excluding parents, taxpayers and teachers in a District matter for no reason other than they didn't want the hassle of the conversation. Because that's what it comes down to. And that attitude is very scary as it is the OPPOSITE of what a public, democratic institution should be. You know...the PUBLIC in public schools.

So how to effectively make all parties listed above change their ways?

Someone enterprising (Melissa) ought to pitch this story to EdWeek, to The Washington Post and New York Times (which both cover a lot of national education matters.) It should be pitched as "Seattle School District Tries to Sneak TFA into Town." It's a juicy headline that should interest the national press.

The ensuing publicity wouldn't do any harm to the kids in our classrooms. That's paramount. But the PUBLIC embarrasment would sure be a corrective slap to the reputation of our superintendent, her staff and most of her board, the Gates Foundation, and frankly TFA.

So let's get smart. What other national blogs and media sources might pick this up? Huffington Post? Daily Kos? Readers, *please add to this list*. Melissa and Charlie, write down all the possibilities and start dialing and writing prior to the next board meeting. It gives this blog more exposure and it will prove to be a very effective means of getting us to a more democratic Public School system.


-skeptical-

mirmac1 said...

I wouldn't be surprised that TfA would need some kind of guarantee of X number participants to partner with college for an alternative route to certification program.

wseadawg said...

Stu: The district is obligating itself to pay TFA 4k per year, per teacher. So for a 2 year stint, that's 8k per TFA teacher. Imagine what 8k invested in extra training and mentoring for the lowest performing teachers we already have. It would be significant. But SPS promises only $500 for current teachers. Imagine what an extra 4k per year would do for each classroom a struggling teacher is in. Again, substantial.

Why the contract? Here you go:

Requesting Conditional Certificate
i. Seattle Public Schools agrees to request conditional certificates for all Teach For America corps members on the grounds that circumstances warrant the issuance of such certificates, as permitted by WAC 181.79A.231. Specifically, the circumstance which warrants the issuance of the conditional certificate is the district’s commitment to partnering with Teach For America as one of the strategies the district is employing to address the achievement gap.

ii. Seattle Public Schools shall provide all the assurances required by the state to enable the issuance of conditional certificates, including the signature from school board or educational service district board, the assurance that the individual will serve as the teacher of record and will have assistance from the district, the assurance that the district will provide orientation and support specific to the assignment, the assurance that the individual will be apprised of any legal liability, and provided clear information about responsibilities, line of authority and duration of assignment, and the assurance that, within first sixty days, the individual has completed sixty clock hours of coursework in pedagogy as a result of successful completion of the Teach For America summer institute, which far exceeds 60 hours of preparation.


So they provide the bodies, but SPS has to do all the work to get them qualified & certified under state law. Does SPS do this for our regular teachers?

So aside from the 4k per year for each TFA teacher, time, money, and resources will be spent by the district getting them all certified.

Charlie Mas said...

Why this one?

A review of the Board Action Reports for the past year will show that most of the motions that come before the Board have no community engagement - or no more than this one has had. If none of those should have been rejected for the total absence of community engagement (and, by the way, I believe that ALL of them should have been rejected for the absence of community engagement) then why should this one be rejected on that basis?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, I can bet that some of those motions with no public engagement were not directly in the classroom motions. This one is. And it's not even "engagement"; it's notification to parents about this consideration.

To believe it is okay after the fact to tell parents is wrong.

I will say that if anyone in this district thinks that Wednesday night's vote is the end of this, they would be wrong.

Sahila said...

The big money is getting worried that TFA might not make it in the door...

see this attack on teachers and the union from the Washington Policy Centre...

http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/blog/post/seattle-teachers-union-leaders-are-spreading-misinformation-against-bright-young-teach-ame#comment-1319

this is absolutely horrible... this is a nazi technique in action via the Washington Policy Centre... "whispering campaign"... rubbish... those of us (citizens and teachers and parents) who dont want TFA in our schools, are shouting loudly from all the rooftops... these TFA recruits might be bright young people but they are NOT TEACHERS.... not after 5 weeks bootcamp training... and TFA as an organisation doesnt care about our kids - their focus is on changing the education system - privatising it...

The First Arnold said...

Melissa and Dorothy, Any chance you can convince Seattle Time's Editorial Department that TfA is a bad idea? When it came to the Levy, you were pretty convincing. I think you have an open ear.

wseadawg said...

It is embarrassing to see the district citing the known-quantity, zero-credibility, right-wing, faux news loving, Republican party proxy Washington Policy Center as a "community group." Those Bellevue-based folks have mocked and derided "Seattle Fat-Cat Liberals" since their creation, and now we have SPS stupidly citing them as a community group? They hate Seattle and its public institutions. Duh!

They always support Tim Eyman and tax cuts, Dino Rossi, Slade Gorton, and all the rest of the R's, and always want to reduce and eliminate any and all government programs they can. Yet, all of the sudden they're some group that SPS cites as a "community" member? What a stunningly bad joke!

Gary Locke used to openly mock the WPC while campaigning against John Carlson, the proudly defiant ex-Seattleite as being a "two room office with no employees" or something similar, and he wasn't far off.

But now, thanks to the internet-magnified presence and pulp publishing that goes along with it, the dupes at SPS are counting them as part of the community, I suppose to show broad-based, bipartisan support? (..From the far left Washington Communist party to the far right Washington Policy Center...?)

But make no mistake, the history of the WPC says they would be the absolute first group to privatize the air we breathe and the water we drink, let alone our public schools.

I find it laughable as a Seattleite that anyone would call the WPC part of the community, unless Seattle annexed Bellevue recently, and I didn't hear about it.

WPC is anti-Seattle in every way, from everything I've seen and heard from them. The fox isn't just guarding the hen-house. It's inside.

wseadawg said...

Disclaimer: The foregoing post contains some hyperbole. The WPC has not officially called for privatization of the air we breathe and water we drink...yet.

ParentofThree said...

I totally agree,regardless of your opinion of TfA, the lack of community engagement should be of grave concern to every parent in SPS.

With so many changes on the horizon, more schools opened, closed, programs added, removed, boundry lines moved...this is NOT the time to allow the district draw this line in the sand.

ParentofThree said...

"Next thing you know, it'll be KIPP going around to LEV, OSC, P4E, A4E, Gates and, heck, Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan, then we'll see and SBAR on hiring KIPP touting ITS "public engagement."


Weren't most of these folks already here recently hosting some event?

I fear this has already happened.

Anonymous said...

Remember, it was Liv Finne who MGJ turned to over the summer to blow up the labor negotiations with the SEA. The education director of the Washington Policy Center is a wholely-owned subsidiary of the SPS.

chunga said...

Stu,

I believe TFA wants a commitment so they can open an office in Seattle.

kid not like the others said...

this reminds me of the rise and fall of the USSR. after appealing to the starving agrarian lower class and ousting the aristocracy, essentially forcing the revolution Marx describes since there wasn't much industry or a proletariat for that matter, the Soviets had to create the environment post facto. The successive leaders implemented various five year plans to develop industry and a new economy to meet the promises made to the starving serfs and peasantry prior to the revolt. It never worked out, no matter how hard they tried. - no, reagan didn't cause the collapse, they were doomed from the start.

mgj is having to create an environment that doesn't exist for this particular revolution to happen, just like the bolsheviks. the reformers are appealing to the disenfranchised just like the marxists did. to me, it is doomed to the same fate. hopefully it happens sooner than 75ish years from now and without lines for the education our kids are straving for.
sm