Thursday, November 11, 2010

Open Thread Friday

Three Director community meetings tomorrow:

-Peter Maier, 10:30 am-noon at Brick Room - Bethany Community Church – 1147 N 81st St

-Kay Smith-Blum - 10-11:30 am, Douglas Truth Public Library, 2300 East Yesler Way
(NE corner of 23rd and Yesler)

-Steve Sundquist - 11 am-12:30 p.m. - High Point Library: 3411 SW Raymond St

Not to get on the holiday train too soon but these are hard times (and we're are all trying for green times as well) so I thought I'd put this out there (from the Seattle Times):

Who says holiday gifts, especially those for little kids, need to be new? When your wee ones open those presents on Hanukkah or Christmas, they'll be new to them, regardless. Plus, how much more plastic do you want to be responsible for contributing to a landfill? CoolMom’s 3rd annual Holiday Toy Swap 'n Sale is happening Saturday in two different locations, in Wallingford and West Seattle, with the goal of helping “families reduce spending and their carbon footprint this holiday season.” Swing by the Swap 'n Sale and do your part for the environment and your wallet, while picking up gently used toys for all the kiddies on your list. The West Seattle sale is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fauntleroy Church. The Wallingford event is from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. at the Wallingford Boys and Girls Club. Bring your own bags, and cash or checks only.

53 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

Top question for Board members:

"What are you doing to assure students and families that the District will fulfill the commitments made to communities."

There is a long list of commitments that the District has made but failed to fulfill. What is the Board - and the individual Board members - doing to compel the District staff to fulfill those commitments?

Question #2: "Will the District accept any grant for anything, even if the grant is to pay for something that runs counter to the District's stated goals, purpose, practice, or program?"
They will, of course, say no.

This leads to Question 2a:
"Given that the District has been working for the past several years to attract more experienced teachers to our schools in low-income communities and has been working to keep teachers in those schools to reduce turnover, how can the Board support the use of Teach for America corps members who are total novices as teachers and cannot be expected to remain in the school as teachers for more than two years? Isn't the use of Teach for American directly counter to the District's stated goals, purpose, practice, and program?"

Question 3: "I hear that some folks want to bring in Teach for America corps members to deepen and broaden the candidate pool. There were 800 applicants for teaching jobs at West Seattle Elementary. How much deeper and broader does the candidate pool have to be? What is your metric, assessment and benchmark?"

Dorothy Neville said...

Here's a question for the board members. Print out and bring a copy of this letter that Michael DeBell wrote the union promising certain things, attempting to get them to support the supplemental levy.

Point out this line "The Board has directed staff to reverse our typical budget development
process and build the school budgets first. The Board’s guiding principals for use of our
scarce resources begin with classroom instruction." Never mind the homonym failure (which several board members have copied, sigh) and ask the board member if they support this statement and if they do, how will it happen? What particular steps are being done to ensure this? How will we know?

Dorothy Neville said...

Much of the materials from the November 2 Budget Workshop are now available on the SPS website. I would like to specifically call out Peter Maier for not giving up here. He asked about this at Monday's audit meeting and followed up at Wednesday's finance meeting when he couldn't find it.

There are two important documents that are not there, but I have just emailed Peter letting him know so I expect it will be taken care of. He is also trying to get this information in an easier to find spot, but for now, find of on the budget page.

The two documents that are not there yet are the WSS committee recommendations (restores some of the WSS cuts and fixes the special ed travesty for $3.5M) and a frustratingly vague Central Non-Grant FTE changes that is supposed to clearly demonstrate the 80+ job cuts, but has things like Clerical down 19.6 FTE and Administrators up 2.8, Professional up 16.1 and Service Worker down 5.2

Maureen said...

Thanks for following this Dorothy. I also want to point out that Peter Maier has asked staff to bring transportation cost information to the Dec. Operations Committee meeting that will address the costs of operating community based stops vs. street by street busing for Option Schools like TOPS. This analysis was promised as part of the final vote on the Transition Plan last year and I doubt it would ever have been seen if Peter hadn't asked for it. (Well, we'll see if it actually is delivered, I have faith in the head of transportation, but funny things tend to happen in the weeks before a big Board vote.)

Maureen said...

I thought Harium's Community meeting had been changed to this Saturday, but it isn't posted that way on SPS so maybe I am mistaken?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I note that the district scorecard touts savings from transportation redraws but naturally, no hard numbers.

ParentofThree said...

I am somewhat optmistic reading how Director Maier seems to be stepping up in terms of accountability. This is a welcome change and I look forward to seeing the transportation report as the changes impacted my family.

Charlie Mas said...

Question #4:
Right now, the board needs to make a change in the budget planning.

At a recent Board meeting, Director Smith-Blum asked if the District conducts an assessment of each incoming student to provide that student with the services they need. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson stated that providing needed interventions was the "core work" of the District. Dr. Susan Enfield echoed that position, but then she went on to say that the District was seeking outside funding to bring their intervention program, Response to Intervention, to scale.

In short, the District has made no provision in their budget for something that they consider part of their "core work". That has to stop.

Ask your Board members: "What spending has a higher priority than providing early and effective interventions for students working below grade level?" Emphasize that the intervention has to be at the STUDENT level, not the teacher or the school level.

mirmac1 said...

S'funny. I thought the core work of the District was imposing educating reform "solutions" on our struggling schools; measuring and assessing students and teachers to the satisfaction of Foundation bosses; and writing self-congratulatory district evaluations.

cascade said...

Parent of Three Don't get too excited. Get beyond fiscal policy and Maier is pretty much a blank slate of un-knowledge and un-responsiveness. Have banged head against wall to get him to see a bigger picture of issues.

The only other time I saw a spark in his eye was recently when I witnessed a conversation where he wondered if someone was running against him.

ACKK.

But yes, kudos to Maier for stepping it up on insisting on more staff details on his core interest: finances. 3 years into his term is better than never.

Sahila said...

Well, here is what Tennessee and 19 other states are going to require of graduating teachers:

Teacher licensing standards get tougher - now you have to prove you can teach

And we're letting into our most vulnerable classes TFA recruits with 5 weeks "boot camp" training... and we're agreeing to them being conditionally certificated and they wont stay more than 2 years and (after the first year?) we're paying through the nose for this????

I think this would fall under any reasonable person's definition of insanity...

mirmac1 said...

The Stranger's journalist's close encounter with the Superintendent and her PR detail is not surprising. What is surprising is discovering that SPS attorneys are her syncophants as well.

Case in point: the attorney's disengenuous assertion at the last Board meeting that the Ninth Circuit ruling regarding TfA..uh..members (I can't call them teachers) not meeting the standard of "highly-qualified" teachers (HQT) under NCLB. Did he go to law boot camp? The ruling did not merely fault California's provision for "intern teachers" in Title 1 schools. California's standards mirrored Arne Duncan's deliberate misinterpretation of what Congress clearly intended in NCLB. The ruling was against Arne "The Brick" Duncan. Washington's standards for meeting the HQT status are more rigorous and greatly exceed Arne's minimal standards.

curious said...

I am wondering (I'm curious!) how many people got info on the TFA issue from their school's parent group?

curious said...

mirmac1, i hoe you send that to the board, esp kay

mirmac1 said...

Renee v. Duncan (Ninth Circuit;No. 08-16661)

The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant, the Department of Education. The plaintiff’s challenged a federal regulation under No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which permitted teachers who participated in alternative route teacher training programs, but have not yet obtained full State certification, to be characterized as “highly qualified teachers” under NCLB. (Alternative routes to certification refers to non-traditional programs that are typically designed for people who already hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a field other than education).

The “highly qualified teachers” designation is important for State compliance with NCLB. NCBLA provides funds to states and schools under several sections – on appeal was Title I funds, which supplement the educational needs of disadvantaged students (Slip Opinion pg. 5; see also 20 U.S.C. §§6301 et seq.). A central premise of NCLB is good teachers – defined by Congress as “highly qualified” teachers; the goal by the end of 2005-2006 school years was to have only “highly qualified” teachers instruct core academic classes in school districts receiving Title I funds (Id. § 6319(a)(2)). NCLB contains a lengthy definition of “highly qualified teacher” (see 20 U.S.C. § 7801(23)(A)(i) and 34 C.F.R. § 200.56).

Plaintiffs challenged language in CFR § 200.56. Specifically they objected to characterizing as “highly qualified teacher” an alternative route teacher who has not yet obtained full state certification, but who merely “demonstrates satisfactory progress toward full certification[.]” (pg. 9, quoting § 200.56(a)(2)(ii)(A)(4) (emphasis in original). The California regulations on the issue “mimic[ed] the federal regulation challenged[.]” (pg. 12).

The reason for the challenge of the CFR was it allowed teachers without full certification to teach. Plaintiffs contend that the CFR (upon which the 2004 California regulations were based) allowed a “disproportionate number of interns to teach in minority and low-income schools in California” in violation of NCLB (pg. 12).

The court applied the Chevron framework to analyze the CFR (see Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984)). The first question under the Chevron framework is to ask “whether Congress has directly spoken to the precise question at issue. If the intent of Congress is clear, that is the end of the matter; for the court, as well as the agency, must give effect to the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress.” (Id. at 842-843). The court determined that the intent of Congress was clear leaving the analysis at the first question (pg. 14).

The court found the CFR inconsistent with the intent of Congress in NCLB. The court stated the “precise question at issue” is the difference between the meaning of “has obtained” full State certification in the statute, 20 U.S.C. § 7801(23), and the meaning of “demonstrates satisfactory progress toward” full State certification in the regulation, 34 C.F.R. § 200.56(a)(2)(ii) (pg. 16). The analysis pitted language in the NCLB against language in the CFR interpreting NCLB.

Focused on this language the court held that by including in the definition an alternative route teacher who merely “demonstrates satisfactory progress toward” the requisite of “full state certification” the education secretary’s regulation impermissibly expanded the definition of “highly qualified teacher.”

Seattle Parent said...

This is on the SEA website re: TFA.
An interesting primer, from the WEA's viewpoint.

http://www.seattlewea.org/index.php/collective-bargaining-mainmenu-14/5-documents/281-tfa

Dorothy Neville said...

There's kind of a smallish issue that's nagging me. I don't really know if it is small, if it should be considered small, or what. I don't like it, but am I missing something?

One of the audit issues was that they did not have proper public meetings for real estate sales. Well, the technical issue was that they did not have any board members available to listen to public testimony. The audit action to rectify this -- make sure it doesn't happen again -- is to create a procedure whereas the board can formally designate someone (ie general counsel) to listen to such testimony in their place.

Doesn't that kinda defeat the idea of elected officials listening to the public? One of the reasons that it isn't really an issue is that this board has been using the board meeting as a public meeting for these sorts of requirements, so perhaps these stand-alone public meetings will not happen? But I still am not thrilled with the idea of this new procedure. What do others think?

mirmac1 said...

From Washington PESB website

Route 4: Alternative route for individuals teaching with conditional certificates

Alternative route programs operating Route 4 programs enroll individuals with baccalaureate degrees from regionally accredited institutions, who are employed in the district at the time of application, or who hold conditional teaching certificates. Cohorts of candidates for Route 4 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 and is considered a Highly Qualified teacher under federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB), while serving as the teacher of record and supported by a well-trained mentor. In addition, Alternative Route 4 programs uphold entry requirements for candidates that include:

A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education. The individual's grade point average may be considered as a selection factor;
Successful completion of the WEST-E subject matter assessment required by RCW 28A.410.220 (3);
External validation of qualifications, including demonstrated successful experience with students or children, such as reference letters and letters of support from previous employers;
Meeting the age, good moral character, and personal fitness requirements adopted by rule for teachers; and
Successful passage of the WEST-B statewide basic skills exam

So, on second thought Washington does refer to certain alternative certification prospects as "interns". Interestingly, in the early 2000's there were only three routes available for alt cert. I see a fourth was added in the interim.

I don't see how Route 4 would pass the smell test after the Ninth's ruling.

j said...

My second grader is lagging behind in reading. During class last week, she and another kid got put on computers to do Lexia while the rest of the class went on to something else. To top it off, it took ten minutes to get Lexia loaded.

This feels very much like My Child Left Behind and absolutely not Excellence for Everyone. I am suspicious of the use of the computer in the classroom, something to keep those kids occupied and free up the teacher to concentrate on teaching the others (it's a class of 28).

Chris said...

Yep, I just reviewed the video - Harium's is tomorrow too.

wseadawg said...

j: it's worse than you think. The technophiles are convinced your child can learn more from a computer than a person. The future is scary.

whittier07 said...

Positive ... we had a really informative coffee morning where the school report card was discussed. I was glad to hear other parents comment that they knew this wasn't "NEW" information, just the old annual reports in a new format. Our principal also had concrete examples of what the school was doing to increase achievement and acknowledged that there were gaps in the curriculum that needed to be addressed.

Negative ... we had a few subs today and it was sad to see last year's student teachers back in the building as 'guest teachers'. These are SPU graduates and they spent their internship with great teachers at our school. They would be fantastic teachers! One of them told me that hardly any of her graduating class had been hired.

MGJ - THERE IS NOT A SHORTAGE OF QUALIFIED CANDIDATES IN SEATTLE!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wseadawg, to your point about computers teaching kids, I was at the BEX Oversight Meeting today (more on that later). They were discussing the changing facilities needs for children of today and one member said that Bill Gates' kids were learning math by some 12-minute video by Klein(?). I laughed out loud (my bad, people turned and looked me) but only because please, Bill Gates is teaching his kids math with videos? They may supplement or review with videos but I'd bet any amount of money that Gates' kids have real live teachers.

A computer is not a human being.

Maureen said...

It's Kahn not Klein. Very straightforward basic to advanced computation stuff (nothing like Everyday Math).

Gates may be watching them with his kids, but there's no way his kids schools are playing them in the classroom.

dan dempsey said...

Those videos on math are free and extremely well done.

This is one Non-Profit I really like. They produce "Great Supplements" to be used in a complete instructional program.

The Khan Academy

The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) with the mission of providing a world-class education to anyone, anywhere.

We are complementing Salman's ever-growing library with user-paced exercises--developed as an open source project--allowing the Khan Academy to become the free classroom for the World.

Dorothy Neville said...

Actually, I believe that he's been taking the kids traveling and doing a lot of homeschooling and has been using a lot of Kahn academy videos.

Note that there is a human in the picture, Bill himself. One-on-one working with his kids to make sure they learn from the videos.

hschinske said...

*chuckle* Dan's the only one who's gotten it right so far. KHAN, folks. KHAN. Think "Wrath of."

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

You could try to roll this softball past a board member:

"Can students get high school credit for classes taken in middle school?"

Nearly every Board member will think that they can. Clarify the question. Make sure that they know that you mean can students get the credit right now for classes taken last year. Again, nearly every Board member will think that they can since the Policy to allow it was passed over a year ago.

The surprise answer is "NO".

The District staff is issuing blanket denials of credit to every student that requests it for classes taken last year.

Then you can ask why that is, ask if that was the Board's intent when they passed the policy a year ago. Ask why the Board doesn't oversee the implementation of their policies. Ask why the Board didn't review the superintendent's procedure for the implementation of this policy.

seattle citizen said...

Here is today's Times editorial on the map of district scores created by the MOPERS (More Public Education Reform Seekers) and how the Community Center for Education Results, the newest "coalition" in town, is using Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Zone model to fix things up.

Putting aside the threat that the superintendent is really gonna go nuts down in the south end, there are some positive implications mentioned in the Times editorial - wrap-around support for students. Since they would actually have to work with individual students to do this (one hopes), it is a positive step away from the school/program/teacher directed "reform" we have seen of late.

The editorial is below.
NEW report cards on Seattle schools and the district as a whole reveal a mixed bag of improvement and stagnation.
Cheering results include 67 percent of Seattle's high-school students now enroll in college within a year of graduation, up from 59 percent three years ago.
Schools were ranked on a scale of 1 to 5, based largely on test scores — not just the percentage of students passing tests but the percentage making gains. Only a dozen schools out of 82 received a 5, meaning they had a high percentage of students passing state reading and math tests and showing strong academic improvement.
But not a single south-end elementary, middle or high school received better than a 3.
The mixed and dismal results ought to sound a clarion call for more robust and targeted efforts.
An impatient public understands educational improvements take time but is right to wonder whether ongoing efforts are enough and targeted in the right places. Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson has hinted at stronger action, including replacing principals and staff or closing schools.
Encouraging signs come from new efforts by the Community Center for Education Results, a regional project targeting struggling schools in South Seattle and South King County. The center would be the base for an army of community resources, from early learning to local library reading programs.
The center would ensure needed services follow students throughout their school years.
Many communities are plagued by an unhealthy feeder pattern in which students from low-performing elementary schools move to low-performing middle schools. A cradle-to-college approach for intervention is best at halting the pattern.
Inspiration for the new round of efforts comes from the Harlem Children's Zone, the highly touted antipoverty and education program that has proved for some students that classroom and community efforts must go hand in hand.
Harlem Zone's leader, Geoffrey Canada, spoke to a crowded ballroom in Seattle recently to argue for educational efforts that go beyond good teachers and curriculum to encompass medical needs and social services.
As Canada reminds us: We would not force our own children to learn with a painful cavity or poor eyesight. Time to give every child the help they need to succeed.

mirmac1 said...

Actually, upon further review it appears Washington's cert requirement is even WEAKER than California's and Arne's. You don't even have to have completed a teacher prep course to get fully certified and classified as a "high quality" teacher" in Washington. You just need a bachelor's degree, a school district to suck butt and request a conditional cert for you, and pass the West E and the West B.

How difficult are these tests?

Anonymous said...

I got a PFL email today about the "wonderful" possibility of bringing TFA to Seattle. It includes a promotional video by the Seattle Foundation. I don't know if it has already been posted, but just in case.

http://www.partnership4learning.org/node/2881

Dismayed Teacher

mirmac1 said...

Y'know, on third thought, I think we're good here. Washington state law distinguishes between a conditional certificate and a "full" or regular certificate:

WAC 181-79A-231 Agency filings affecting this section
Limited certificates.
Notwithstanding other requirements prescribed in this chapter for eligibility for certification in the state of Washington, the following certificates shall be issued under specific circumstances set forth below for limited service:

(1) Conditional certificate.

(a) The purpose of the conditional certificate is to assist local school districts, approved private schools, and educational service districts in meeting the state's educational goals by giving them flexibility in hiring decisions based on shortages or the opportunity to secure the services of unusually talented individuals. The professional educator standards board encourages in all cases the hiring of fully certificated individuals and understands that districts will employ individuals with conditional certificates only after careful review of all other options. The professional educator standards board asks districts when reviewing such individuals for employment to consider, in particular, previous experience the individual has had working with children.

(b) Conditional certificates are issued upon application by the local school district, approved private school, or educational service district superintendent to persons who meet the age, good moral character, and personal fitness requirements of WAC 181-79A-150 (1) and (2), if one of the following conditions is verified:

(i) The applicant is highly qualified and experienced in the subject matter to be taught and has unusual distinction or exceptional talent which is able to be demonstrated through public records of accomplishments and/or awards; or

(ii) No person with regular teacher certification in the endorsement area is available as verified by the district or educational service district superintendent or approved private school administrator, or circumstances warrant consideration of issuance of a conditional certificate.

The beef in Renee vs. Duncan is that, although California (and Washington) regulations permit consideration of Route 4 conditionally certificated teachers (I use the term loosely) to be considered "highly qualified", NCLB requires "full State certification". WAC 181-79A-231 obviously distinguishes between the two types of certs. So even though Randy Dorn and PSEB may like to say conditionally certificated teachers w/ a bachelors, in an alt cert. training program, and passing West B and West E are "highly qualified", the WAC does not consider them "fully certificated individuals". BAM!

mirmac1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle citizen said...

Thanks for the link to PFL's TFA rah-rah, dismayed teacher.

This is funny:
"...the Seattle Times ran a fantastic story about the turnaround of West Seattle Elementary led by Principal Vicki Sacco and former Teach for America corps member Chrissie Coxon." (so teacher Coxon LED the turnaround with her principal?!)
"...The timing of this story proves auspicious. The Seattle School Board is currently deliberating on whether or not to bring Teach for America (TFA) to the district..." Ha! "Auspicious"! What coincidental timing, the story in the Times and the district's introctory item! "Proved" auspicious my foot. Part of the campaign plan.

"...While TFA has never claimed to be the sole solution to the problems facing American education..." Maybe not, they just all chant the same mantra: WE fix the achievement gap! WE believe children can succeed! so they imply that regular old teachers don't...TFA is....special!

"...the organization has widened and diversified the teaching pool for districts across the country and provided pathways for extraordinary individuals like Coxon to join the teaching profession."

Umm, "widened" the pool? There are thousands of unemployed full certs out there, including many in out city who are recent certs, or are cert teachers on first-year contracts that were riffed last year...And Coxon could have done what every one of those people had to do, which is to get a full cert. She had pathways already; she was merely promised money and a free masters degree (forgiven loans) by TFA to join.

Lastly, this:
"...Even the Dean of the University of Washington’s College of Education, Tom Stritikus, has said that programs like TFA 'breed innovation and force us to critically examine our own role in solving the intractable problems of education.'" Let's not forget to mention, shall we, that Mr. Stritikus is a TFA alum, now a dean of Ed at UW, and likely to gain professionally by making such and endorsement. Heck, he might even be offered a seat on the Broad board or the NWEA board. I hear the superintendent vacated her seat on both recently, after she started the push for TFA and after she sold SPS NWEA's MAP test.

What a hoot. Who are these Partnership For Learning people again? Let me guess: Are they partly funded by Gates? Lemme check...Well, by Microsoft...and a bunch of other Seattle businesses. And the partners of PFL? Wait for it...
"Local Partners
Led by Partnership for Learning, the League of Education Voters and Stand for Children, the Excellent Schools Now coalition includes more than 30 Washington education, business and community-based organizations."
What?! PFL is partners with LEV, SFC, and ESN?! Who woulda thunk it?

Who are these "coalitions"? They're like their horses: SOMEBODY sure trained 'em.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, I don't take the district's legal counsel's opinion on the district's use of TFA members versus the ruling of the 9th Circuit all that seriously. The district isn't famous for winning major court cases.

mirmac1 said...

Yeah, but isn't there professional ethics? Oh wait, we're talking lawyers here....

Anonymous said...

The District staff is issuing blanket denials of credit to every student that requests it for classes taken last year.

I am homeschooling my middle schooler in algebra and geometry, in large part due to our concerns about Discovering (and CMP last year). Because she is not taking these classes in SPS classrooms, she will not be eligible for high school credit under current district policy.

But with the state's adoption of the new end-of-course exams, it makes no sense to deny credit to students who can show (via passing these exams) that they have mastered the material. See "http://www.k12.wa.us/Mathematics/webinar/math_FAQs_for_EOC_exams.pdf for FAQ's about the new math exams.

I wrote the board a few weeks ago asking that they update their policy and award credit to middle school students who take algebra and geometry outside of "approved" SPS classrooms (e.g., another district, homeschooling, WAVA) but who pass the respective EOC exams. I emphasized the importance of implementing the policy before the first round of exams this spring.

Although it is jaw-dropping that the district is not awarding credit to kids like Charlie's daughter, perhaps the institution of a new policy related to the EOC exams will provide another avenue for such kids to receive the credit they have earned.

-math mom

Anonymous said...

The link does not seem to work. Try:

http://www.k.wa.us/Mathematics

and follow the link on the right to "End-of-course exams" and then Sept. 30 FAQ about the EOC exams.

-math mom

wseadawg said...

I have to laugh at Gates's double standards. Sure, using computers to supplement his kids math education is great, and he's there to help too. But does he mention how he limits his kids time on the computer & various electronic devices?

Meanwhile, his Microsoft Empire is producing Call of Duty IV (or whatever) for XBOX, which is promoting it's pre-Christmas release by running a commercial with all sorts of professionally dressed people firing automatic weapons at each other in a town like Falluja. Apparently the message is, "we're all violent killing machines inside, so let's virtually take out our anger by blasting the world to smithereens while spending our free time playing Xbox" - for hours on end.

Sure, it's just a game right? Wrong. Recent psychological studies are proving that violent video games predispose and produce violent, aggressive, anti-social behavior, particularly in young men.

If "it's all about the kids," why are we addicting an increasingly unhealthy generation of our young to ever more violence and instant gratification? I like playing video games too, but there isn't a sliver of doubt that these games have become so realistic they are affecting our kids emotional states. And gee, which kids are getting their homework done? The ones playing Xbox all day?

Combine that with Davis Guggenheim's infamous "we have a shortage of 'skilled workers'" and it ain't too hard to see where this charade is headed.

Now go on and lecture me about equity and such. Sure.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's my favorite part of the Partnership for Learning email:

"the turnaround of West Seattle Elementary led by Principal Vicki Sacco and former Teach for America corps member Chrissie Coxon."

The use of the word "led" makes it sound like past tense - as if the work were done.

Chris said...

1) Is Chrissie Coxon certified or not? The term "corps members" seems to lump what I call "recruits" with the alums. Which is really combining apples and oranges. Note the board has only seen the oranges.

2) Just got to the part of the last board meeting where legal answered TFA case questions. I think the explanation is that guy is from "Litigate for America" with all their fantastic training.

emeraldkity said...

We have problems with graduation rate-rigor in Seattle- amirite?

What if we took a chunk of the money we spend on studies/etc teamed up with some donors- (hey Bill that means you!)
for something like this?

Say all RBHS grads got free tuition to the UW

Charlie Mas said...

Ms Coxon is certificated. While she was a Teach for America corps member teaching in a school outside of Seattle for two years she completed the classwork necessary for a traditional teacher certificate and used that certificate to secure her teaching job in Seattle.

Melissa Westbrook said...

EmeraldKity, I have talked about your idea before. I thought some donor could take on an elementary school and promise scholarships for all who graduate high school (whether it's for college or vocational ed). I wish someone would do it.

uxolo said...

I found some notes that say the 10 year cycle for the New School funding ended in August 2010.

uxolo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArchStanton said...

I am posting this in the most recent open thread, which is the next to last on the main page, so it will probably get buried. And I know that we're all pretty preoccupied with TFA, APP, and CSIPs, but this still seems relevant to the school blog:

Hale is banning Brave New World. Well, technically they're removing it from a course, but keeping it in the library. The concerned parent is trying to force it's removal from other SPS reading lists, as well.

http://www.mynorthwest.com/category/news_chick_blog/20101117/A-Brave-New-World-controversy/

/sheesh! I'd expect this in the bible-belt, but not in Seattle.

Dorothy Neville said...

Archie, thanks for the link. I was already planning to attend this appeal this afternoon. I knew the book in question, but not the reasoning for the case.

Sigh.

hschinske said...

I don't think the _Brave New World_ controversy is nearly as simple as it might seem. Sense-Wilson does have a point or two exactly right about offensive stereotypes (not to mention cultural appropriation) being present in the book.

Personally I think that could be an argument for additional discussion about exactly HOW and WHY such stereotypes can ruin the reading experience of what may otherwise indeed be a great work of literature. That's a perfectly legitimate topic for a high school literature class, and done well it could be very enlightening.

Was Huxley justified in using elements of Pueblo Indian culture in the way he does? To what extent does the science-fiction setting make a difference in how appropriate it might be to postulate changes in their customs? Would that include even inaccuracies due to ignorance, as well as deliberate changes that made sense for his future society? To what extent is it acceptable for viewpoint characters (who are not supposed to be thinking entirely like modern people) to use cliches that mirror those of much older prejudices?

Moreover, this is EXACTLY the kind of learning experience that people are supposed to gain from being in diverse schools -- you're SUPPOSED to find out that someone of a different race or culture may have a completely different reading experience from you, and it should be enlightening to find out why. But is the Native American student being unduly singled out, and her feelings sacrificed to some ideal pedagogical experience? That could be, too. It's not an easy, simple "of course it's a great book and she's being silly" situation.

Wow, there are commenters on Linda's article who are saying it isn't even about Indians. Way to prove you haven't read the book, people.

Helen Schinske

Dorothy Neville said...

"Personally I think that could be an argument for additional discussion about exactly HOW and WHY such stereotypes can ruin the reading experience of what may otherwise indeed be a great work of literature. That's a perfectly legitimate topic for a high school literature class, and done well it could be very enlightening. "

That's exactly what I was thinking, that the whole issue should be part of the curriculum and discussion, instead of simply not teaching the book. We don't know if the teacher tried to incorporate it or whether she simply decided to stop discussing the book further. We don't know how the principal apologized. A simple "We are sorry we read something that offended you" is exactly the wrong message, in my opinion. I suspect is was the apology though, and thus my .

ArchStanton said...

I thought we lived in one of the most literate cities in the US...

Yeah, it's a slippery slope and I'm disappointed that it's even gotten this far. I'm a big fat Seattle liberal and this strikes even me as political correctness run amok. Of course, I get that it's easier to just give in whenever someone is offended, but it's just the wrong message.

If we don't read anything that offends someone, we won't read anything. It's not as if the entire book is some racist screed, any more than say Huck Finn or The Little House on the Prairie series.
It's a perfect opportunity to examine the attitudes and influences at the time the books are written.

Is she being singled out? I don't know. Perhaps it depends on what other books the class is assigned. Are all of the texts filled with potentially offensive references to Native-Americans? Or are some of the texts potentially offensive to other groups? Is the teacher using the texts to examine and deconstruct stereotypes? Was the girl going to be singled-out to be the expert and represent the Native-American perspective? (If she wasn't before, it'll be hard to avoid now.)

If they're doing dystopian societies, it would be a shame to miss out on Brave New World.

Here's an interesting
compare/contrast of Huxley/Orwell

hschinske said...

It's not as if the entire book is some racist screed, any more than say Huck Finn or The Little House on the Prairie series.

If the Little House books are taught at all, it's going to be in grade school, which is a much different environment than high school. I've heard a number of stories about Native American kids in classes where the teacher had the idea that the Little House books were nothing but warm, domestic, lovely books that of course anyone must love -- even if there are characters who say "There's no good Indian but a dead Indian" and the Ingalls children are kept awake in terror at the Indians howling.

It's a really different situation from reading Brave New World, which is supposed to be a disturbing book all around -- it's not one that ever gets read to the kiddies as all warm and fuzzy.

Helen Schinske

Dorothy Neville said...

For Arch and Helen, (anyone else listening?) I have to say I was surprised, but my reaction to the testimony on both sides is definitely that the Mom sounded a lot more credible. She has clear objections to the text, but moreso on the curriculum with the text. (or lack thereof). She has gotten some reassurances that they would provide some PD so that teachers could teach it with cultural sensitivity, but that just sounds like empty promises. No timeline, no clear response that it would happen. She spoke, her daughter spoke and two Native American educators spoke. One point was that the main character John(?) Savage kills himself at the end and Native American kids commit suicide at 10 times the rate of other kids.

Kathleen Vasquez simply sounded unprepared and just terrible. Shot herself in the foot even for admitting most LA teachers are white and not necessarily culturally sensitive. Carr and Smith-Blum both kinda sorta really ticked that we did this LA alignment stuff and we haven't yet done the lesson plans and the PD (which is voluntary! what happened to alignment?). KV read a list of other challenging books (would they get challenged? is there anything to teach?) including The Bluest Eye, Kite Runner, Huck Finn. Someone asked well (I think because they were discussing satire, such as BNW) well are they any books to teach satire with white characters. And KV came up with.... Maus. A satire about the holocaust. Charlie, Mel and I all had jaws hit the floor. Maus satire?

Anyway, it ran late, and they asked questions so there was no time for deliberation. But I was definitely impressed with the parent's research and reasoning.