I'll have to do this on the fly because I managed to not have a pen with me to take notes at one meeting.
I went first to see Harium. There were several other parents as well but I went first as I was trying to make Kay's meeting as well.
Harium said that the mystery donor will be paying for all three years of the TFA contract (no it's not in writing). Keep in mind there is still the overhead to be paid to have this program as well as extra costs for any special ed teacher mentor required should any of these TFA teachers be teaching special ed students (pretty likely). TFA is not cost-free.
I asked if the district would be making sure that all parents with TFA teachers will understand about their FERPA rights. Yes but no explanation. I sincerely doubt the district will do anything differently than they do now (that doesn't mean, though, that those parents can't be reached through other means).
The motion has some new info in it and at least one thing I think we can count as a win. That is that two of the more onerous FERPA issues are gone. TFA can still use student identifiable data but cannot disclose it to any third parties. And, they have to return or destroy any student educational records obtained through the District, in its possession, upon request from the District. I think we better make sure that every year the District makes that request.
The motion also tries to explain why they can do a sole source contract with TFA and apparently it's because it's a service contract and the RCW doesn't apply there. Again, I think that issue could be explored more and the district is trying to head off any lawsuit.
They also state that the TFA contract would bring more "diversity" to the teaching pool. I'll lay odds that the majority of the TFA teachers will be white.
They also try to explain why the recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision out of California wouldn't apply here. Again, I wouldn't put all my eggs in the district's legal basket. They aren't known for winning the big cases.
What is fascinating is the memo from Dr. Enfield to Dr. Goodloe-Johnson that is now attached to the motion. It asks that Dr. G-J "utilize your authority to grant an exception to Superintendent Procedure No. 4 "Contracting for Services Procedure". She notes this agreement doesn't need the Board's authority for contracts less than $250k but recommends that the Board grant the Superintendent authority to sign for it.
Interesting that the Superintendent doesn't think she needs the Board's authority but wants their stamp of approval. However, while the policy, G 45.00 does state that the contract has to be over $250k, it also says this (italics mine);
" This policy shall apply to all contracts, agreements, and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) where the District receives money, pays money, or commits time and resources, whether these are paid from operating funds, capital funds, grants, ASB funds or other sources. "
It would seem that the Board DOES have to approve this contract under its own policy as they are receiving money that applies from a contract. I think the Board should make it clear, if they vote for TFA, that it is THEIR approval, not the Superintendent's, that counts.
Then the kicker is a list of reasons why the exception from current contracting procedures is "appropriate" (and I'm not listing them all ):
"There is significant interest within the local funding community to specifically fund bringing TFA corps members to the Puget Sound region, and specifically to Seattle Public Schools."
OH, I get it. If you have money in this town and interest in funding something specific, well, by all means come on down. Harium said he could see how I might feel this way but that it is not a bad thing that community groups want to help. Point taken but in the context of this issue, it points to power and money trumping real discussion and governance.
(A woman at Kay's meeting who said she worked for a non-profit said this is always the dilemma - do you take money with strings attached for a project you probably wouldn't have otherwise done if the money wasn't there? Is it worth your time and effort?)
Kay allowed several people including myself to speak on this issue. Only one man said he was for it but added that the public discussion probably wasn't "all it should have been". I was surprised at how many people said it was wrong to do this without discussion. Kay ironically ended that part of the meeting by saying she and her colleagues had a lot to discuss on Wednesday.
It's nice they get to since no one else does.
My prediction is that the TFA contract will pass unanimously with some "tsk, tsk, do better next time on public engagement".
So maybe we waste our time with the Board. Maybe it's time to go up the food chain to our legislators, City Council and yes, the Mayor.