Tuesday, November 09, 2010

This is What I Think (No, Believe)

Charlie has emboldened me to put forth what I think is really happening with TFA.

So here's the situation: we are an urban district but not a truly "urban" district like D.C., Detroit or LA. We have problems (stagnation being probably the greatest one and the inability/lack of interest in replicating successful programs being the second greatest one). There's a piecemeal feeling to what gets done in this district.

Our country, our state, our county and our city are all facing down a continuing bad economy. However, unlike other parts of the country, our city is faring better than many. But we do have many unemployed people and that includes teachers. As well, there are at least 4 colleges of education in our state.

The Superintendent has admitted that there is no shortage of teachers in Seattle. So between the existing pool including a number of teachers (some of whom may have been laid off through no fault except being first hires) and new teachers coming into the pool by virtue of graduating from a teaching college, it would seem there is a pretty large pool of teaching candidates.

And yet, our district wants to rush to bring in Teach for America. No real discussion especially with the people whose children will be taught by these teachers. No outreach by anyone to parents (I would count the SCPTSA bulletin as informational and not outreach).

Teach for America HAS to get three districts and a higher ed institution to sign on for them. Now Federal Way already has and that leaves (as far as I can find) Kent, Seattle, Highline and Tacoma. I have no idea what higher ed institution is signing on but I hear that the new dean at UW's College of Education likes TFA and that would be because he's an alum. (Those TFAers are like Tribbles.)

The cost to the district is starting salary plus $4k per year (for two years) per TFA teacher. Plus any TFA teacher teaching special ed has to have a special education teacher mentor in the building. Plus overhead to manage all this. (And I leave out the lawsuits because I don't know how many there will be.)

So there is no teacher shortage, we are allegedly in dire financial straits and yet this is one of the top things for our Superintendent and Board to get done. Like yesterday.

So I'm bypassing my usual question of "what is the problem we are trying to solve?" because logistically we don't have the money for this initiative, we don't have a shortage of qualified teachers and the outcomes of TFA teachers are all over the place. (A lot like charters.)

So then the question becomes:
  • why would 7 apparently bright people are falling all over themselves to get this thing done by Thanksgiving?
  • why would elected officials bypass a process that they themselves have told the district is important when bringing motions to their attention
  • why would the one thing that the Superintendent has consistently failed at in her tenure in this district be bypassed in this case by the Board?
  • why would the consideration of parents' viewpoints or even notification not matter on this issue?
What is the answer to ALL questions about education, big and small? Money.

My contention is that the Board is going to try to look down at their screens the next Board meeting to avoid the gazes of the concerned and disappointed (and angry) in the audience. They know that the public engagement of TFA is of no interest to us - we want to know what public engagement OUR district has done with our school communities and the answer to that is none.

But they will pass this agreement and they will do it because they have been bought. Not personally of course but our district and Board have heard the siren song of more money from someone. "Sign up TFA and watch a large "grant" come your way."

For me, there is no other explanation. These Directors who got elected by the citizens of Seattle. Because School Board elections get smaller voting numbers than most other elected officers, then I'd strongly suspect a large number of those voters are parents. Why would the Board ignore a large segment of the voting population who are the most likely people to vote in a School Board election?

Our Board is being bought by local ed reform folks determined that every single national ed reform plank is part of our district whether or not it is what is good or best for our district.

I have no heard ONE person say they wanted no change or improvement or in favor of keeping the status quo. But this upending of our district to mirror national trends without clearly explaining why is wrong. Local control indeed.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it (because all 7 of our Board members didn't suddenly lose their sense of fairness and good judgment).

I don't care how much money we get; this is wrong.

86 comments:

Sahila said...

Thank you Melissa, for calling it what it is....

wseadawg said...

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows that the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows.

Anonymous said...

And, don't forget Matewan! (Google is acceptable for this history lesson.)

Concerned West Seattle Parent

wseadawg said...

NYC's chancellor Joel Klein is moving onto Fox News folks (resigning to become VP of News Corp)! Now Fox's propaganda machine will be pushing privatization even further along! We ain't seen nothin' yet!

Here's a little tid-bit from a clear and thoughtful Bill Maher you might enjoy.

seattle citizen said...

Money, yes.

My theory is that about twenty or twenty five years ago, some people got to thinking: Boy, these interesting programs we've been developing, ELL, SpEd, ALO, smaller classrooms...suer are expensive! And the need for some of them becomes more apparent the further we involve ourselves in thinking about them!

Gee, they say to themselves, I'd bet taxpayers don't want to pay more and more for what some people think is good and just and right in public education. How can reconfigure the system to bring down costs?

Oh, hey, standardization! Let's make the only important things be the ones we can stick into a machine and measure! Oh, oh, and then we can have the whole system machanized! Smart boards and smart desks and adaptive tests and data data data, all of it in bits and bytes!

Oooooh, they thought, now that we're talkin' about standardization, how does this best? Business! Let's get them on board! Business, being business, asks, what's in for our shareholders, and how do we buy the CEO a five-bedroom condo on the upper west side?

I know! I know! shouts little Michelle, we divert taxpayer money to private enterprise!

oooh, murmers an appreciative audience of rugged, boot-strapping, innovative entrepreneurs...We LIKE it! But how do we sell it? NOBODY would believe mere bits and bytes are the same as the rich education we give OUR children! Hmmm....How 'bout we sell it as a civil rights issue? Convince people that many poor souls are not competitive merely because they don't have Reading and Math? Then show how it's those dang racist or culturally idiotic teachers that don't believe poor children can succeed...It's THEIR fault! It's a two-fer! We sell the systems and break that dang union that is sooooo 1940s...It's a new day! EVERYBODY can get into a college, and then into one of the jobs that hasn't been outsourced! You just have to believe!

So let's pour some seed money into some districts that have poor people. We'll elect ourselves some boards, talk to the politicos and let them know that there are votes at stake, and THEY don't want to be against civil rights! Then we'll buy some machines to test students and some curricula to teach them to the test, then some eager young things (not any of the oldsters! Age discrimination suits be damned, we want shiny cheap energetic people to cycle in for two years (much longer and they get expensive...that and they see the eighty hour work weeks and start demanding stuff and all, maybe even unionizing, omg....that ain't free market!

So we avoid having to ask people to fully fund quality education, and our friends in industry make money, and we create dull little droids who only know Reading and Math (thank god: they're not teaching about the Wobblies or child labor or capital accumulation or any of that dross! We need workers for America, not thinkers! Thinkers get ornery. Pol Pot KILLED all his intellectuals! We can't go that far....now...but we don't need them to get all interested in the system, we want them happy!

peonypower said...

This is about money- but I think it is different from what Melissa thinks. This is a way to push out experienced teachers and replace them with a cheaper product. The cost of a teacher with a B.A. is about 42K- and the price for a teacher with a masters + 90 credits and 4 years of experience is about 10K more. Out with the old (4 years) and in with the new. Out with pay for higher ed, and in with under-trained, inexperienced staff who will turn over and keep cost down.

Bringing TFA into Seattle is about de-professionalizing teaching and creating a cheap and disposable labor force. It is not about creating great future teachers (even the TFA site says the goal is to identify leaders not teachers.) It is about the fast food and walmart mentality. It does not give a rip about actually helping education.

It is all about money. I suggest that every person who reads this blog and thinks TFA is a bad idea should show up at the board meeting on the 17th to protest.

FLL said...

"even the TFA site says the goal is to identify leaders not teachers"

Aren't teachers leaders?

seattle citizen said...

Of course they are, FLL. But the point, probably, was that TFA somehow identifies (?) leaders that will lead to more reform and TFA - they themselves say that two-thirds of their alums stay in education: One third in ed "leadership" and one third in the classroom (but it sounds like that might be lower, maybe 20 percent after three years)

So the point is that they recruit people to make more jobs for themselves...it's like a pyramid scheme, almost.

Heck, the Senoir Policy Analyst over at LEV, a Gates/TFA booster club here in Seattle, graduated UW in 2004, went to the Bronx to work with the poor, needy children, got her masters degree thereby, and then bailed on the poor, needy children to come work at LEV. So lEV can bring in more TFA. SOME teachers are leaders; some run away.

WV has a horrible ex-girlfriend: Amitylee

seattle citizen said...

What I'm wondering now is how TFA identifies "leaders" to recruit - Is there a test?

Sahila said...

Seattle Citizen... it goes back further than that...

And its as much a political control as an economic thing..

See here:

Friedman Foundation Founders' Letter

"This Foundation is the culmination of what has been one of our main interests for more than four decades: improvement in the quality of the education available to children of all income and social classes in this nation, whether that education is provided in government or private schools or at home.

That interest began in 1955 when we reached the conclusion that government financing of primary and secondary schooling is entirely consistent with private administration of schooling, and that such a combination is both more equitable and more efficient than the existing linkage of financing with administration. We suggested that a way to separate financing and administration is to give parents who choose to send their children to private schools "a sum equal to the estimated cost of educating a child in a government school, provided that at least this sum was spent on education in an approved school.

The interjection of competition would do much to promote a healthy variety of schools. It would do much, also, to introduce flexibility into school systems. Not least of its benefits would be to make the salaries of school teachers responsive to market forces.

Since then we have been involved in many attempts to introduce educational vouchers – the term that has come to designate the arrangement we proposed. There is a distressing similarity to attempts made over three decades and from coast to coast. In each case, a dedicated group of citizens makes a well-thought through proposal. It initially garners widespread public support. The educational establishment – administrators and teachers' unions – then launches an attack that is notable for its mendacity but is backed by much larger financial resources than the proponents can command and succeeds in killing the proposal.

We have concluded that the achievement of effective parental choice requires an ongoing effort to inform the public about the issues and possible solutions, an effort that is not episodic, linked to particular legislative or ballot initiatives, but that is educational. It requires also the cooperation of the many groups around the country who are devoted to improving the quality of our schools, whether governmental or private.

This Foundation is our contribution to that objective...."

SolvayGirl1972 said...

"Those TFAers are like Tribbles."

I love it when you throw some levity into a very serious post. Keeps me coming back. I'm behind you on this one.

dan dempsey said...

"I don't care how much money we get; this is wrong." --MW

This is wrong, like so much that MGJ does.

The four directors elected in 2007 are an incredible disgrace. Evidence and laws are irrelevant to them. This gang of 5 must really be removed. Next step in removal Nov. 18, in court.

Folks really need to show up on Nov. 17 at the Board meeting to protest TfA and let the Board see more opposition to their destructive decision-making.

seattle citizen said...

"The interjection of competition would do much to promote a healthy variety of schools. It would do much, also, to introduce flexibility into school systems."

You mean the healthy variety of schools we had before HSPE and MAP and Alignment? The flexibility individuals and teachers had under site-based management to allocate resources to best fit the needs of their particular populations?

Can some tell my why, again, we are centralizing and standardizing if the reform movement is all about choice and variety? Why are sending squadrons of TFA people into poor schools, each trained to the same, narrow schema, test scores?

Hmmm, methinks it is to further crappify schools so as to be able to say, "aren't public schools just terrible?"

Sahila said...

here's a bit of news that'll cheer us all up, I'm sure.... go free market capitalism in all your glory!

Goldman Sachs invests in $25M charter school financing facility

Money will be spent on 16 charter schools over the next two years...

Coming to a Washington city near you within six months...

The First Arnold said...

From today's Seattle Times:

"Still, if low-ranked schools don't improve over the next few years, the district has a new policy saying it can take major steps such as replacing the principal, all the teachers and staff, or closing the school"

I believe this is the reason TfA is coming to Seattle.

Here is my bet:

The district will remove many teachers from the classrooms.
TfA will be there to pick up the pieces.

Then, scores won't increase and teacher's lives will be ruined.

Sahila said...

LA United School District Board votes to spend $4.5 million on consultants to develop VAM for teachers.

Test score makes the teacher? Maybe, at LAUSD

As an LA woman said: "That's lots of librarians they could give back to us who are invaluable to schools and literacy."

emeraldkity said...

TFA in Boston was going to have a contract that guaranteed their jobs for two years.

Is that what SEA has for brand new teachers? Or are they like Boston and they will be reviewed annually for three years with no guarantee they will be hired back?

Charlie Mas said...

The District has said what kind of teachers they want in challenging schools: experienced, expert teachers and teachers who will stay there for a long time.

Given those statements, why in the world would they decide to bring in novice teachers who are likely to leave after two years? It goes directly against what they have said they want.

They say that they want to broaden and deepen the teacher candidate pool but they cannot say how broad or deep it is now nor can they say how broad or deep they want it. Consequently, that statement isn't credible.

Are we to understand that there are some teachers who were recently hired at these schools who would not have beaten out novice and un-certificated teachers from Teach for America? Who are they? Name names.

Charlie Mas said...

Wow! The blog now has a tag for bullshit.

I think that one is going to get used a lot.

Eric M said...

District administration specifically does NOT want experienced, qualified, highly expert, innovative teachers at Cleveland. At least, that's my experience - I applied for an advertised Chemistry job at Cleveland HS last spring, and didn't even get an interview. 25 years experience, speak Spanish, much experience in California working with English learners, National Board Certification, innovative project-based learning curriculum development, 2 times as science department chair, superb evaluations, teaching awards, teaching chemistry at another SPS school at the time, etc., etc.

Or maybe it's because I now call bullshit when I see it. I didn't used to, but a combination of the infamous NCTQ report and the MAP test conflict of interest got me mad enough to start writing on this blog and pursuing a second life of activism.

Or both.

So what do they want at these South End schools? I'm with Mel - a submissive, short-timer TFA-based staff, so they can create charter schools as soon as the Gates Foundation buys off the legislature.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I had a talk with a Board member who, to my surprise, was supporting the TFA effort. I was sharp in my questioning and was told well, we lose too many teachers each year.

Me - stunned silence. Then I pointed out that TFA teachers leave after two years (the overwhelming majority) so how does this help the problem?

Peony or Eric or Ken or another teacher reader could tell us more about why they think teachers leave. I'm sure there are many reasons but I'll bet the management of this district is one of them. I'm sure our teacher readers could tell us that they see one initiative after another thrown at them (along with what exists) and it's probably exhausting.

Maybe the district should be thinking about how to retain the good teachers they have. Maybe the new teachers contract is a start. But pulling in more inexperienced, slightly trained teachers who are leaving in 2 years doesn't seem to be the way to go.

Sahila said...

They are stealing our democracy:

New Orleans: They stole our democracy while we were out of town

Maureen said...

The good teachers I have seen leave the District fall into two categories: (1)They don't have seniority (or are student teachers just applying) and are RIFfed in the Spring, even though their position will almost certainly be advertised at the end of the summer. They can't count on it, so they go shopping for a job and get snatched up by some local District that has it's act together and hires earlier than August (or October)and (2)They have a baby, or have the opportunity to travel around the world or something, but don't have enough seniority to keep their spot, or enough flexibilty in the system to do a job share so they just quit.

In my experience, senior teachers will hold on longer than junior ones under difficult circumstances (like now) because of the golden handcuffs of seniority. Weaken those and we'll have even more churn.

The other thing I see, is people like IAs and Reading or Math specialists often have to be chopped off a building's proposed budget in the Spring (effectively fired) with the promise that if the enrollment turns out to be what everyone knows it will be in the Fall, they will be rehired--not all of them wait it out. And it often takes until Oct or Nov to fill those positions. Also, I have seen money show up in the Spring, just in time to hire someone to tutor kids for the WASL and go away again in June.

I don't want to oversimplify, but I think that if the District would fund schools first and downtown later, they would be able to commit to the teachers and IAs earlier and would cut way down on churn. It seems to me that the solution is t oimprove the hiring process, not to expand the pool by adding a bunch of candidates who are less likely to stay than the ones we already have.

Chris said...

Ruth Medsker, a couple of years ago: "The primary reason for teacher attrition is that they can't afford to live here."

Bird said...

Peony or Eric or Ken or another teacher reader could tell us more about why they think teachers leave

Our school lost a new teacher last year. She quit to take a job at a private school. She didn't have seniority and was worried that she would get RIF'ed at the end of the year.

So put a tick mark in the poor management box for that one.

If the district could commit to funding classrooms first, we might be able to reduce some new teacher churn.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Melissa for the clear boiling down of this issue.

I am a Garfield mom and there is much talk about this issue in our community.

The shove-thru of TFA is a clear example of why the level of parent and staff frustration is so high. Decisions are made with no sense that our voices will make any difference. I can't leave the house without hearing anger with the superintendent and, increasingly, with the board.

advise to the admin:

Support the good teachers you have.

Don't chase elusive grant $s as you alienate your family base.

Expand district programs with proven outcomes.

The buzz is growing. Goodloe-Johnson must go.

Dorothy Neville said...

I would believe Maureen's anecdotal evidence more than I would believe Ruth Medsker.

But still, where is the data! So this board member says we lose too many teachers. How does he know that? Because staff told him, I bet. So how did he respond to that assertion. Did he ask for proof, for numbers, for a graph, for comparisons to neighboring districts, for the results of the exit surveys the district does when teachers leave (please laugh now)?

Bird said...

And it often takes until Oct or Nov to fill those positions.

Ah, I've seen this as well. The district has promised a half-time teacher to help deal with the huge enrollment we saw.

Here we are with a quarter of the year gone and still no teacher.

It would help if the district would get its act together and authorize new positions before the end of October.

I'm not sure why they think they can waste a quarter of the year.

Average Education Geek said...

I am supporting TFA coming to Seattle Schools. I hope people choose to look beyond the rhetoric here and think about the achievement gap. It's getting worse, not better. TFA is just another way to address it. The real conspiracy I wish would be addressed on this blog: that people have to undergo expensive education graduate degrees to be excellent teachers. There is NO and I repeat NO definitive research that supports that any type of teacher training program actually works better than any other in turning out teachers that reduce the achievement gap and help their students consistently make gains. See this US Dept of Education study: Constantine, J., Player D., Silva, T., Hallgren, K., Grider, M., and Deke, J. (2009). An Evaluation of Teachers Trained Through Different Routes to Certification, Final Report (NCEE 2009- 4043). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. A short summary of the study is at theapple.monster.com/education, and the whole study is at http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20094043/pdf/20094043.pdf

What does the research show works? Long hard hours worked plus lots of teacher energy directed toward growing a real connection with students, plus an organized approach to student learning. Since that's the case-- that traditional teacher training programs don't "work" better than anything else-- why not utilize the elbow grease of TFA teachers? We are at the point we have to try SOMETHING new. It's about our kids! I have seen lots of teachers at struggling and "top" schools, and seen a real variation in quality. A long as that variation in quality exists, and it does, I don't care how many teachers Seattle has in its job market. I care how many quality hard workers, the kind of perseverers who won't give up on a kid, are applying for any given teaching job. The more the merrier. Welcome TFA. I urge the Board to give the go-ahead.

from,

Average Education Geek

lostinspace said...

@Eric M " I applied for an advertised Chemistry job at Cleveland HS last spring, and didn't even get an interview"

Honesty, Eric M, after reading some of the derogatory and insulting comments that you have posted on this blog, I can't blame a school for deciding not interview you. No matter how much job experience a candidate may have if that candidate has a negative attitude he likely won't get the job, or in this case, even get the interview.

@Melissa
"Me - stunned silence. Then I pointed out that TFA teachers leave after two years (the overwhelming majority) so how does this help the problem?"

What was the board members response to this?

Sahila said...

@lostinspace...

I know Eric and he definitely does not have a negative attitude...

and he didnt start posting here about his district concerns until quite recently...

and also, the district is going to discriminate and only hire "yes" men and women?

Anonymous said...

What do principals think? They're the hiring agents, yes? I've only talked with 1 principal about this. (Not my school's.) The principal is from a top-rated school. The principal feels it is "a cynical ploy to get close to Gates' money by being in its backyard".

This same person says there seems to be only one board member who is systematically reaching out to find out principals' opinions. And let's just say it isn't Sundquist, Maier or Martin-Morris.

-skeptical-

wseadawg said...

Wow lostinspace: You're a perfect example of Seattle nice.

1. Go along to get along, at all cost.
2. Don't value the right to free speech.
3. Blackball people who tell the truth.
4. Support cronyism by demonizing victims and their advocates.
5. Duck, cover, and worry only about your own butt when you see corruption. Let others speak up and be sacrificed, then, reap the benefits of their efforts.
6. And above all, brown-nose & make nice, while Rome crumbles and burns.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The Board member said well, yeah, that's true.

Average Education Geek, okay fine but doing 20 different things at once won't tell you which one(s)help. I would rather give the teachers contract a couple of years (since it is said to be a big deal) AND then try something else. I don't like this 20 things against the wall and see what sticks method.

One favor please, do not say it's about the kids or for the kids. We are ALL here because we love and care about kids and public education. It's kind of like when the Republicans act like they are the only patriotic ones. Totally unfair and doesn't help the discussion.

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

Yeah free speech, blah, blah. But if you PUBLICLY call your boss a name like Darth Goodloe then be prepared for the consequences. If you continually, and PUBLICLY spew out negative and derogatory comments like "crap testing", "TFA Bozos" and "TFA scabs", prepare yourself not to be selected for an interview, or to be fired.

You can disagree with a policy or proposal and do so in a professional, respectful way, stating facts, and preparing a rational argument. Or you can call your boss names, insult her, rant, and be negative and derogatory. I don't want any teacher that can't filter his immature lashing out, as a role model for my kid.

And wseadawg, how about you try Eric M's form of free speech on your boss and let us all know how that works for you.

@Melissa, not sure if you were referring to me with the plea to not say "it's for the kids" remark, but I never said that.

Sahila said...

The Divide Between Seattle Schools

Stating the obvious...

But what hit me between the eyes was the complete absence of SPS management views/justifictions (spelling on purpose) in this article...

Seattle-Ed2010 said...

Average Education Geek said...
What does the research show works? Long hard hours worked plus lots of teacher energy directed toward growing a real connection with students, plus an organized approach to student learning. Since that's the case-- that traditional teacher training programs don't "work" better than anything else-- why not utilize the elbow grease of TFA teachers?

But how can a TFA-er "grow a real connection with students" when they only stick around for two years?

TFA is pitched in Teach for America, Inc.'s own words as a short-term stint with the long-term goal of creating "leaders" -- not teachers.

You have to ask whose needs are really being served here -- those of the kids, or those of the TFA-ers who get to add this to their resume and move on. I know that sound cynical, but read the TFA literature on all this and it's hard not to conclude that this is a better deal for the TFA-ers than for the kids in the schools.

Research also shows that any teacher doesn't hit his/her stride until about the fifth year of teaching. The majority of TFA-ers are gone by then, effectively quitting before they become "effective."

For an illustration of the TFA trajectory, check out what famous TFA alum (and lame duck DC Schools Chancellor) Michelle Rhee says about her own two bumpy years as a TFA "teacher." She herself admits she had poor classroom management skills and made various mistakes. Instead of staying in the field and honing her teaching skills, she quit and went into education admin. Lord knows we have a glut of ed administrators already. With very little experience, she got tapped by Mayor Fenty to head DC schools, where she displayed zero empathy or respect for teachers, summarily firing (and slandering) them by the hundreds, and disenfranchising the majority of (primarily African-American) public school families in the school district.

Ultimately both she and Fenty paid the price at the polls this fall for their dictatorial arrogance and disrespect and both are on the way out.

Our kids need and deserve more than mere "elbow grease" from their teachers. They need commitment, experience -- and I would also add, preferably a bit of life experience to that mix -- proper training, and humility.

The "achievement gap" is a much more complex issue than TFA Inc. acknowledges. It is an opportunity gap. It is a severe income gap that exists in our nation and is getting wider. Two years from a young "corps member" parachuting in to our most struggling neighborhoods won't solve this. We need long-term commitments to these kids from everyone in their lives, we also need a better social safety net. The claims by TFA that these recruits can somehow fix an entrenched social problem that other teachers have been addressing -- and our political and economic system has been exacerbating -- for years smacks of hubris and ignorance.

Five weeks doesn't cut it, no matter how well meaning these recruits may be.

I still want to know, what exactly is TFA, Inc. doing with all the money? It gets tens of millions of dollars from donors like Gates and Broad, and just got another $50 million from the Obama administration, and it charges school districts like ours another $4,000 per TFA-er per year. How much can 5 weeks of training possibly cost? I understand there are recruiting costs as well, but still, where is all the money going?

Nothing about this adds up.

I have more thoughts on this -- and the strange TFA contract that gives SPS no guarantees and gives TFA, Inc. no liability -- here: Controversial Teach for America Back on the Agenda for Seattle's Schools.

-- sue p.

dj said...

I disagree, somewhat. I am not advocating for moving TFA in here. I just don't think that the program addresses the particular problems we have here; we have competent teachers who are willing to teach across schools. I think that this is not really about money, however, but about resume-building. You can put onto your resume, concretely, that you worked to forge public/private partnerships by bringing in TFA.

So I don't think this is a big conspiracy to push out experienced non-TFA teachers (at least, here -- perhaps there is a more global effort), nor do I think this is really about the private money itself. It is about making the connections and adding the resume lines, in my view.

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

this is not really about money, however, but about resume-building.

There has to be a bit of pressure on the district, however, if, say the Gates Foundation, wants this.

Gates is paying for a lot going on in the district, particularly the things that MGJ considers essential to her strategic plan.

That has got to make it hard to say no.

I can't say what the TFA proposal is about. Coherent reasons are not really on offer to the public.

dan dempsey said...

Dear Average Education Geek and Lostinspace,

Three points:

#1 This linked letter is to you.

I await your responses to my letter.

#2 About your criticism of Eric M.

Public Schools have different employment rules and procedures than Private Businesses.

A private business has much greater flexibility as employees are able to find a large variety of other similar employers to employ them. If a private business ignores good ideas it usually flounders and eventually dies. Other businesses replace it.

The public schools on the other hand are required to accept dissent from employees in regard to their decisions and actions.

Yet the SPS has not performed correctly in several "whistle-blowing situations." The District has frequently been reprimanded by the Public Employee Relations Commission.

The continued lack of improvement in a variety of academic situations in Seattle is a direct results of likely two items:

A.. The failure to listen to employees raising concerns as well as the failure to listen to the public's concerns. Many of these good ideas were backed with substantial data, while the district has often had little or no data indicating that the SPS direction was or is warranted.

B.. The failure of many teachers and others to raise concerns for fear of retaliation. This fear of retaliation extends to several parents as well as SPS employees.

#3 I once applied for a math teaching position at the African American Academy. During the interview I asked the Principal Chris Carter if he intended to use Everyday Math (k-5) and Connected Math (6,7,8).

His response was that those were the district's adoptions and that was what would be used.

I informed him that as a highly qualified math and science teacher and member of the State Board of Education's Math advisory panel those were extremely poor choices and unlikely to produce any significant improvement with the AAA population.

Principal Carter said he would call me within a day or two when they reached a hiring decision. I never got a call. I never got a letter.
AAA Math never improved. AAA is now closed.

(cont.)

dan dempsey said...

.. (cont.)

The District is deaf to any ideas for improvement unless they spend at least $500,000 for them. Of course then they must pretend those expensive ideas actually work.

Check my data. The District improvement strategies are not working but big money is spent to go nowhere. .... Yet there is not enough money to provide meaningful interventions to struggling students.

TfA is another ridiculous expensive idea ... just like most of what MGJ proposes.

Thus far when the District loses appeals of decisions filed within thirty days of a decision NOT much happens. HS Math decision for example. Sale of Queen Anne High School for example.

It is time to begin filing lawsuits that will financially motivate the district to provide better services to students. It could be shown that the District practices have a deleterious effect on Special Education students and punitive damages need to be awarded to students and their families so that these students can obtain the compensatory services they need to correct for the failures of the District. Check my data. If the District continues with their current failure to serve Special Ed students, I predict this will happen.

A similar action on the disparate impact on Black and Limited English students in k-12 math could follow.

The decade plus of Math disaster is clearly not going to end under Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's leadership without extreme measures.

Director DeBell at the first recall attempt stated that he wished the District was not subjected to legal action so often.

While I think that Director Debell has often been a voice of reason, the legal action will continue and perhaps increase as long as thoughtless damaging practices are allowed to continue and more damaging practices are approved (sometimes illegally).


If the district continues to fail educationally disadvantaged learners, look for a few big money lawsuits coming.

The district leadership is failing in a variety of areas but the lawsuits will focus on winnable cases under the current laws.

Thanks,

Dan

wseadawg said...

You can disagree with a policy or proposal and do so in a professional, respectful way, stating facts, and preparing a rational argument. Or you can call your boss names, insult her, rant, and be negative and derogatory. I don't want any teacher that can't filter his immature lashing out, as a role model for my kid.

lostinspace: I wish I could agree with you, but the most recent election demonstrated the futility of your proposed civil methods of getting one's point across, didn't it?

I wish we lived in the honorable, civil world you propose, where reason prevailed above all else, but we don't live in that world anymore, and the time for civil discourse has passed.

I'm not mocking or necessarily disagreeing with your points, but the rational arguments and best ideas aren't enough anymore, to overcome money and power. Since the early 1980's, the Lee Atwater (Nixonian) methods of winning elections and getting what one wants have dominated and corrupted the public policy decisions in our country, and we are now at the point that the only thing that matters is power. Reason takes a back seat to money and power, and a very distant back seat at that.

Eric M is a public employee using his constitutionally protected right to say whatever in the hell he wants, so long as he doesn't cry fire in a crowded theater or incite violence.

You don't have to agree with him, and it's probably healthy that you don't. But for you to say "Free Speech, blah, blah, blah, shows an incredible lack of appreciation for what that really means, when it comes right down to the nitty-gritty of fighting to preserve what belongs to the public.

I assume you like Michael DeBell, and respect his pleas for calm and quiet, as he and his buddies meanwhile steamroll and flatten the district paving the way for more reforms. I've done and had enough of that. It doesn't work, and you ought to know that by now.

Playing nice is good for kids, but we adults live in the real world, where only wealth and power matter. Sad, but true. I wish things worked the way you think they do, but they don't.

And luckily, we have a constitution that protects teachers' rights to say exactly what they think of a person making close to 300k per year from our tax dollars.

Were this a private employer, I would agree with you more, but yours is a recipe for coming in second time after time after time. You'll never win with your methods. Not now. Not in this district. Been there, done that.

wseadawg said...

And I forgot to say, lostinspace, that I highly doubt Eric lashes out at MGJ in front of his students or during work hours for that matter.

At least be fair not to paint with a broad brush and assume you can extrapolate and profile a person simply because they blow off steam on a blog. Some people work out and hit punching bags to relieve pressure, while others write. I don't suppose the guy hitting the punching bag after work will do the same to discipline kids on the playground.

Sahila said...

Speak Nicely and Say Nothing

wseadawg said...

It occurs to me that to any parent who's school situation might have improved over the last couple years, will probably think MGJ & Co.'s performance has been okay. Fair enough. But that doesn't mean the people who have suffered are unreasonable, or should shut up and sit down. My kids situation is currently okay, but we have gone through hell over the last two years because of terrible, unjustifiable decisions made by this district. My neighborhood WSNorth, is in total chaos right now, after nearly a decade of stability and progress, and people are infuriated that their kids are in moldy portables when we keep passing levy after levy in this town.

I'm incredibly concerned and insecure about what is happening outside my kids' schools, in other neighborhoods, as I fear for those who will soon get caught in the gears of MGJ's reform agenda. Change is hard. But needless, unjustifiable, and destructive change is outrageous and scandalous.

To those who say "you get what you deserve when you speak up angrily," I ask: What would you do after making your case, repeatedly, civilly, citing all the facts and studies, and presenting overwhelming evidence that a proposal you are challenging is ill-conceived, unfair, and destructive, and the recipient of all your effort, and altruism says, "Thanks, but we're doing what we want anyways?"

What would you do? Resign in protest? Or dig in and fight back? Those who would resign achieve nothing and enable the wrong side to prevail. We need fighters. We need advocates. We don't need small talkers, coffee sippers and chummers. I think we have enough of those in JSCEE already.

Should people not be pissed off and outraged when their schools have suffered, their class sizes have exploded, their kids are sitting in moldy portables, and the district is achieving less than half of its goals under the Strategic Plan?

I'd like to know what the folks who complain about the lack of civility, the aggressive complaining, the derogatory statements, etc. would do if you were in the shoes of a family that got screwed by MGJ and Co.?

I invite all those with better ideas to speak up and speak out.

Central Mom said...

Wseadawg...I keep urging West Seattle people on this blog, and yet they never seem to step up, to realize that the biggest chance for change will happen at the governance level. Who from your community is going to run against Sundquist. You realize, right, that he has expressed interest in being the Board Pres for the next 2 years.

Your community MUST find a viable opponent NOW. You must not only find that opponent, but also fund and smartly back that opponent. Call up friends. Shake the PTSA trees. Search for civic-minded citizens. Kick an armchair quarterback in the rear and get him/her out there. SURELY there is one person in all of West Seattle who will be willing to stand up?!?!

wseadawg said...

Central Mom, most of West Seattle's better-off families with extra time are in private schools. The rest are middle & working class folks where both parents work and wouldn't have time to be on the Board.

The other problem is that some schools like Sealth, Denny, Pathfinder and West Seattle Elementary have gotten new buildings and support recently, so Sundquist has his concentrations of fans who credit him for that.

I find him wholly absent of critical or independent thought, which primarily results from his view of his role on the Board, which is primarily to support the Superintendent. Plus, his business & tech background means PowerPoints and Strategic Plans unduly excite him.

I don't think people will wake up and demand accountability until enough of them see what's been lost. Like the NE, WS has many young new families, unfamiliar with how the schools have been in years past, and they aren't aware that the schools weren't as screwed up in the past as they are now.

The real failure of the district was to never build a new building for Pathfinder and leave Cooper alone to grow until it filled. There wasn't room in WSN to close a school, and any numb-skull could see that, but they did it anyways. Crazy.

mirmac1 said...

Thank god there are civil protections (that's not to say there is not retaliation). Lostinspace might be interested in this email exchange about the audacity of a teacher contacting a Board member to tell them what they need to know to do well by our children:

The horror!

I'm sure this kind of attitude really fosters a pursuit of excellence in ANY employee.

lostinspace said...
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lostinspace said...

Freedom of speech may give you the right to publicly call your boss a name like Darth Goodloe, but that doesn't mean it's right, and I wouldn't count on your boss granting you and interview for a position you applied for afterward.

In the real world calling your boss names, or publicly bad mouthing your company gets you fired. Ask Sahila what happened to her at Microsoft. And I guarantee you if a Microsoft employee posted on a public forum (and was caught) that the Zune was a piece of sh*t, or that Bill Gates was an A**hole, they'd be fired. ASAP.

It could be different in the public sector, but it doesn't look like it. According to Eric M, he was more than qualified for the position he applied for at Cleveland, had seniority, and yet, Dearth Goodloe didn't grant him an interview.

So protect your freedom of speech all you want to, just don't expect your boss to do you any favors afterward. And Eric should consider himself lucky that he has a union to protect him because if he didn't he'd likely find himself holding a pink slip in the next rif.

But, alas, the union protects yet another teacher. That's exactly why some of us don't join the anti-reform chant. Had Eric M worked at a charter and called his principal Darth principal, publicly, he'd be canned, just as he should be.

mirmac1 said...

Good at the hypotheticals. Is that how you want real life, Lostinspace? Keep yer head down and get along? If so, I suspect you worked for the Bush Defense Department.

AARRGGH! I'm just sayin'!

lostinspace said...

How is being civil, keeping your head down and getting along? Is something wrong with you?

I read the letter you posted. The librarian at Garfield is hardly keeping her head down and getting along, but she is being civil, rational, coherent, and respectful, while saying exactly what she wanted to say.

I suppose you think her letter should have read: Dear Darth Smith- Blum, The crappy MAP test sucks.

Duh. That's not how rational, sane, people communicate. Not even your librarian example.

Sahila said...

LostinSpace - Hawk, Adhoc or whoever you are...

I didnt lose my job at Microsoft for badmouthing my company (Microsft)... Actually, I dont think I have ever badmouthed Microsoft... I've bad mouthed Billy-boy and the Gates Foundation...

I think there's a very good chance I lost my job at Microsoft because Maria Goodloe Johnson has a habit of interfering in people's working lives and asking their employers to fire them if they say things about the district and her management she didnt like...

I know for a fact that she tried to get another Microsoft employee fired (there were lawyers involved, I understand), and I know for a fact she tried to get Phyllis Fletcher of KUOW fired... Phyllis told me herself...

dan dempsey said...

Dear Lostinspace,

This statement you made:

"And Eric should consider himself lucky that he has a union to protect him because if he didn't he'd likely find himself holding a pink slip in the next rif.

But, alas, the union protects yet another teacher."


Shows you understand neither the laws that govern public employees nor the several rulings against the District made by PERC.

The SEA Union is not the protector in the instances you portray. It is the laws of the State of Washington.

I am still looking for your response to the letter I wrote you.

-- Dan

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

Lostinspace: do you have evidence EricM put "Darth Goodloe" in writing BEFORE being denied a Cleveland job? I thought he showe up here more recently than that. People often try civic discourse before resorting to uncivil.

As I was watching the last board meeting on TV, I kept muttering "Uh oh, that poor schmuck is gonna get fired." Now my kids think we live in a police state.

Just sayin'

Eric M said...

Aah, Lost in Space. I bow to your calm and substantive arguments. The faults are clearly mine, as I have resorted to namecalling in my frustration over so many of the wrong directions, all at once, that I feel SPS is heading. I am sorry to disappoint you, and didn't fully consider the effects of my harsh words on your sensibilities. You are right, I should be fired, and if it weren't for the crappy union, I certainly would get what I so richly deserve. Hopefully, as you say, I'll get riffed in the spring. The union, as might be obvious to outsiders, is not very strong.

In the meantime, I will refer to Dr. Goodloe-Johnson in the future as "that nice leader who made some choices that some people unfortunately questioned"

I will refer to the MAP test as "that well-intentioned test that a few parents and teachers unfortunately questioned."

I will refer to TFA as "that superb organization that brings the best & brightest young folks to Seattle to teach, but has been unfortunately questioned by a few parents and teachers."

Mostly, I pledge to keep on working for and insisting on sound, rational research-based plans for improving schools, and deploring ideologically-based and/or corrupt and/or wasteful initiatives.

Aside from bashing me, and firing me for using offensive words on this blog to characterize some problems I see as extremely serious, what are your ideas for setting this school district back on track?

I suspect we'd all like to know.

I'm not the only one who's extremely frustrated, and feels like every rational avenue has been explored, many times. In September, for example, 99.8% of teachers voted "No-Confidence" in "that nice leader who made some choices that some people unfortunately questioned".

And Mel, Charlie, you need to remove the "bullshit" tag from this thread, because it debases a calm and rational discourse that we need in these difficult times.

ParentofThree said...

Jeffery Canada is here in Seattle and will on King 5 Newsmakers to air next month.

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

Yes, and all whistleblower protections should be repealed because they're all a bunch of troublemakers.

Nora said...

Mirmac-
Thanks so much for the link @ 2:37. While I am disgusted by Holly Furgeson's humorous (?) response that she "wishes" the district could tell citizens/school staff not to communicate to the board, I find other aspects of the document equally disturbing.

1- Ms. deBarros wants the CAO and Director of Policy and Government to know that the Garfield librarian is "continuing to direcly contact the board about MAP." (She does not find it important to share the
content or concerns of the contact.)

2- Because of concerns re: time dedicated to testing, 9th graders will take MAP instead of PSAT.

3-"Many high schools" have requested additional (more than 3x yearly) MAP testing for "students who are behind".

4- The question of "how many principals and teachers were surveyed" re: MAP usefulness remains unanswered.

5- Kindergartners "have trouble on computers" so could be introduced to computers in the first week of school so as to be familiar with /test appropriately.

6- Perhaps only 1st time 9th graders should be tested.

...

I see "transcript of evidence" at the bottom of all pages. Can yo share details?

owlhouse said...
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Kathy said...

" Because of concerns re: time dedicated to testing, 9th graders will take MAP instead of PSAT."

Nora,
What is this about?

mirmac1 said...

Nora, these documents represent but a portion of the documents made available to appellants of the 2010 NWEA MAP contract. There remains over 1.5 yrs worth of discourse similar to this nugget that has yet to be provided under the Public Disclsure Act. One would think that SPS would know by now its obligations under the law. Those lawyers have to be good for something more than covering MGJ's rear flank.

Nora said...

Kathy,
I'm referring to the documents that Mirmac linked to above- pg 3 of the document. Jessica deBarros explains in an email to the Garfield librarian dated 6/8/10, that they, the district, understand that many test are administered in HS, and this can "burden" students and staff. The solution when MAP was introduced for 9th graders, was to eliminate the PSAT. "Thus, 9th graders take MAP instead of the PSAT."

It's a document worth reading. Many thanks to the staff who continue to share their day-to-day realities with the board and district admin.

mirmac1 said...

You're telling me going through the process described at this OSPI will not cost SPS a dime?

ProceduresforHiringaTeacherNotYetHighlyQualified2009-10SY

Tiki said...

I think TFA is a great program, but it's focus should be sending teachers to parts of the country without teachers, to places lots of folks don't want to go.

Seattle ain't such a place. We have a plethora of un- and under-employed teachers.

It's a solution without a problem, here.

wseadawg said...

The Reformers see Seattle as a key domino in the line that they must knock down. If they can't get the reforms they want, like High Stakes Testing, Merit Pay, and weakening union protections in Seattle, it could spell doom for them as they try to "take all their programs to scale" as Arne Duncan says constantly.

It's not about the kids, as they love to say, it's about the Reformers believing they are better than others, despite mountains of failures in their wakes.

I was listening to Stephen Colbert interview Davis Guggenheim recently, and Guggenheim said it all when, instead of saying "our kids aren't smart enough" (which he never says) he lamented, and I quote, "The Shortage of SKILLED WORKERS."

SKILLED WORKERS, folks. That's what this is all about. Bright futures? Only as bright as the Oligarchs will allow for their peasants, uh, er, I mean SKILLED WORKERS.

I stand against the Reformers because their de-humanizing view of our children is not mine, and never will be.

All they care about is PERFORMANCE. Not intelligence. Not critical thinking. PERFORMANCE. 'Nuff said.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mirmac 1, could you e-mail me please? I just read the whole e-mail interchange and I would like to ask you some questions.

sss.westbrook@gmail.com

Eckstein Mom said...

Actually, spening two full years and then returning for another year to focus on best teaching practices does make a better teacher than a kid fresh out of college who spends two months in a program and joins to have their debt cut in half then leaves after teaching in a "poor" school. Where is the logic, Geek, that you think that someone who only spends two months learning the profession would be equal to someone who spends three years learning the profession? Does the logic apply to physics, too? Does someone who studies physics for two months equal someone who spends three years at it? What exactly do you think it takes to teach, anyway? Just put some college kid in there with two months training and they're good to go? I don't think Geek is the correct term for you--try, DENSE instead.

Maureen said...

The fact that the TfA boosters skirt around so politely is that they are all REALLY REALLY SMART. So they only need five weeks to learn what those poor dense teaching students do over the course of years. No disrespect intended of course, the world needs dense people too.

perspective said...

I'd like to compare apples to apples:

What does it take to become a cert teacher?

I know that it requires a 4 year degree. If you take out the math, science, LA, classes, how many hours are actually spent in "teacher specific" classes, and how about interning?

Compared to: TFA teachers who already have a 4 year degree, 5 weeks of training, and will have ongoing classes to become certified.

seattle citizen said...

Yes, Maureen, TFA people are really, really smart, and:

THEY know how to address the achievement gap, dang it! and
THEY believe every child can succeed!

Not like that dumb staff the district is deprofessionalizing by stating in the School Board Action Report on TFA that they want to "broaden the pool," combined with the rationale given in the TFA contract that they are partnering with TFA to address the achievement gap.

In thse two official documents, the dsitrict is saying "we need more applicants that can address the achievement gap, even if they aren't teachers, because other, fully certified applicants aren't up to the task, and, by implication, we need to bring in fresh [cheap], smart smart, encouraging achievement-gap-busters because the current staff just ain't up to snuff."

And people wonder why the staff gave a 99% vote of no-confidence.

If the superintendent isn't satisfied with her staff, maybe she should find another job, because she's certainly lost their respect and can't, thereby, function effectively.

mirmac1 said...

Perspective,

For starters the question isn't what it takes to get a cert. It is what does it take for a fully certified (not conditionally certified) teacher to meet the definition of "highly qualified" to teach in Title 1 schools in Washington State. Read this and check the OSPI site for TitleIIA

www.k12.wa.us/TitleIIA/HQT/pubdocs/NCLB-HQTResourceManual.pdf#Plan

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

Thanks, but that wasn't my question mirmac. Anyone else have the info I requested?

peonypower said...

I know that to become a highly certificated science teacher I had to have a degree in the subject area that I was planning to teach, take 1 year of education classes, and then 12 weeks of student teaching (in which you must meet all the requirements of the state to in order to finish student teaching- some classmates taught longer than 12 weeks.) In addition, there was a state general exam and science specific exam that had to be passed. Even after this the state issues a conditional residency certificate that can be renewed after 2 years to a full residency certificate that is good for 5 years, after which a teacher must either complete a professional certification program or become a National Board Certified Teacher in order to be issued a continuing teaching certificate. In essence- it takes at least a year of education classes to earn a certificate, which is a lot longer than 5 weeks.

Also someone asked about science teachers averaging 2.5 years in the field this is the national average not just Seattle.

perspective said...

That is a big difference.

A Teacher said...

Perspective,
The U.W. teaching program I went through required 60 quarter credits of education classes in addition to 15 credits of interning. This is two solid years of curriculum and instruction. You apply to the teaching program after you have finished four years of college and received your BA. You are also required to pass a very strenuous federal teaching test (the Praxis) on both the content you are teaching and teaching practices. TFA teachers do not need to do any of this.

So, they come to the classroom with only 5 weeks of training and the faulty memory of how they were taught to help them design teaching units and manage a class while state certified teachers come with two years of actual training in teaching. Most will have at least two years and some will have three years of teaching credit beyond their BA because they are required to return to college after their first year of teaching. I have never heard of a teacher only having one year from a Teacher Education Program but some colleges have shorter programs.

Courses you would take in a university program include courses in educational psychology, reading disability, how to design classroom based assessments, classroom management, methods for teaching underperforming students, using cooperative learning, how to teach accelerated learners, how to design learning centers and create focused, small group instruction, etc.

There is so much to learn that genuinely makes a difference and it can't possibly be learned in five weeks.

But this isn't about closing the achievement gap. This is about MGJ getting even with the teachers who voted her "no confidence". Isn't that obvious?

perspective said...

Thank you, A teacher. That is a big difference, and I wouldn't want my kid in a classroom with a TFAer after hearing the difference in training and experience.

peonypower said...

to A Teacher
The training I refer to is post B.A. degree, and there are many programs that offer teacher certification that are at the shortest 1 year (SPU) and up to 2 years (UW) My program was 1 1/2 years long after I had a B.A. in science.

Whatever program someone goes through post college, all of them offer course work that is devoted to curriculum development, assessment, classroom management, special needs, etc.

My point is yours, that TFA teachers do not have to do any of this, and that is wrong and foolish to equate their training with a fully certificated teacher's training.

Sahila said...

Well, here is what Tennessee and 19 other states are gboing 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...

troubled said...

I'm interested that there hasn't been follow up to the main idea of this post:
But they will pass this agreement and they will do it because they have been bought. Not personally of course but our district and Board have heard the siren song of more money from someone. "Sign up TFA and watch a large "grant" come your way."

I just want to make sure I'm reading this right: you are saying that the Board (and District leaders) have been bribed. They are making key policy and programmatic decisions in exchange for cash?

Melissa, I hope you will correct me if I've misunderstood. If I have not, would you be willing to name the specific District officials and Board members you feel have accepted the bribe, and/or are changing district policy and practice for the promise of money in the future?

These people would be acting not just completely without ethics, but I think, illegally. I hope you will expose them if you have any information along these lines.

Can you clarify for me if you think they have a specific agreement for taking this action in exchange for the promise of funds for the district in the future? [which I would call accepting a bribe; however, I am not a lawyer, perhaps I don't understand the legal intricacies here]

Melissa Westbrook said...

Troubled, I was careful to say that I did NOT mean the Board had (or would) personal take money.

I meant that I believe - and this is just a gut feeling but I cannot find any other explanation - that there is a deal in place by the powers that be in Seattle with the Board and the district. (Again, these are 7 bright people. Why would they all suddenly go blind and deaf to the realities of TFA AND their responsibilities to parents?)

Give us all the planks of national ed reform (TFA being one of them) and money will come to the district.

I wouldn't say they are "changing
district policy and practice". I would say they are willfully ignoring it. I believe that the Board thinks that if we try everything that all the other education kids are trying, our district will succeed. That there is no clear and convincing evidence is not material. They believe they are doing this for the greater good. But the minute you override established policy, ignore ethical issues and refuse basic notification to the people whose children will sit in these classrooms, you lose credibility. We elected them for their judgment but also to represent those who elected them. And that means everybody, not just those with money.

That our Board knows that this district has done NOTHING to tell parents what they are planning is reprehensible. Harium said to me "yes" when I asked about making sure parents of TFA taught students will know and understand their FERPA rights but that was all. He didn't say, "Melissa, I understand that concern. I will work with my colleagues to make sure that every single parent is aware of this issue." It's troubling that he didn't say more than yes. And it makes me doubt that he will.

We need leaders who consider what is best for OUR district - and they can consider everything and anything - is what is most important to me.