Monday, November 22, 2010

Yet Another Broken Promise

The District has been promising/threatening an Alternative School audit/review/inventory since the start of the Strategic Plan.

Since that time, and in the absence of any audit or review, the District has

Closed two alternative schools
- The African-American Academy
- Summit K-12

Moved three alternative schools
- The NOVA Project
- The Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center
- Pathfinder

Created three alternative schools
- Queen Anne Elementary
- Jane Addams K-8
- STEM at Cleveland

Determined that special programs are not alternative
- language immersion
- Montessori

Suspended the Alternative Education Policy C54.00

And is threatening to close two more alternative schools:
- AS #1
- Middle College

A whole lot of decisions about alternative education have already moved forward in the absence of the data that would come from this review. More decisions are pending.

The Alternative Education Review was supposed to happen last year but didn't. When it was suggested that it wouldn't happen this year either, Director Martin-Morris became indignant (he's doing that a lot lately), and insisted that he was committed to the review being done this fall.

He keeps using that word. I don't think it means what he thinks it means.

Director Martin-Morris, as the chair of the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee, is the one person most responsible for making this review happen. He is the person who promised it. He is the person who must accept the blame for the failure.

Here is a link to the agenda for today's canceled Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee meeting. I can't help wondering if the Alternative Education Review hasn't been re-titled "Schools of Innovation Review". Well, I guess it's good that they were at least going to talk about it, but Director Martin-Morris told us that the review would be done in the fall, not discussed in the fall. Can this review really be done before the Winter Break starts on December 17? That's about three weeks from now.

I don't think that the District can get this thing up and off the ground in three weeks, particularly now that the C & I meeting is canceled, and particularly if they are going to expand the scope to include all "Schools of Innovation", such as Schmitz Park and North Beach, which are using innovative math materials, all of the international schools, all of the Montessori programs, all of the A.L.O. programs, all of the schools using any non-standard instruction. Schools of Innovation is a MUCH larger category than the alternatives. They can't set the scope of the review, find an agency to conduct it, and get those folks into the schools in the three weeks remaining before Winter Break. This review will not happen this fall. That promise is broken.

17 comments:

ParentofThree said...

A quick google of "Innovation Schools"

On the one hand you have the Innovation Act in Colorado, sounds very promising!
http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdegen/SB130.htm

Then you have, Partners in School Innovation, where you see those now familiar terms, "human capital" "data driven results"

http://www.partnersinschools.org/program/program.htm

And, The Institute for School Innovation
http://www.ifsi.org/

Can't really tell what these folks are up to.

and of course:

http://www2.ed.gov/admins/comm/choice/charter/index.html

WORK WITH PARENTS & THE COMMUNITY
Innovations in Education: Successful Charter Schools


So Innovation is here, quesiton is what will it look like in SPS?

interesting said...

Is C54 suspended? Susan Enfield looked me in the eye and said it was not. Where can I read about this?

Charlie Mas said...

The District has not acknowledged the fact, but it remains a fact that they do not follow C54.00.

curious said...

Would a meeting like this typically be rescheduled or just put off until the next regular meeting? Can someone tell me where I might see this meeting listed so that I cold attend,and where the agendas are located? Thank you.

Melissa Westbrook said...

If you go to the SPS webpage, go to the left and hit School Board. On their page, to the left, is their Calendar where you will find their committee meetings, Work Sessions, Board meetings and community meetings (as well as any public hearings).

One spot below the Calendar is the Meeting Agendas link. There's where you will find the agendas.

Chris said...

To be fair, Harium deferred to Susan Enfield who proposed the alternative schools do a self-study, due to some degree to a lack of funds for a formal audit/review.

This was intended to be a community-supported study, and when we last met (principals and parents), at the beginning of October, we set a timeline that had us reporting to the board next May. Dr. Enfield was not in the room at the time, but she has been informed and not responded, at least not to me personally - and I was among those who sent the letter informing her.

We are proceeding the best we can with all the other things going on. Some of us did get the impression that not everybody would automatically "pass" the self-study; that is, she might use the results to conclude that school X should be closed or School Y might be deemed "not alternative" and turned into a neighborhood school.

In any case, I am, like Charlie, I think, of the position that no other drastic actions should be taken against alternative schools before the completion of this process.

Chris said...

Regarding the term "innovation schools," that is how she has been referring to alternative schools, in a scenario where we would be given broad autonomy rather than having to request a half-dozen waivers.

We are aware that the district's motivation is probably partly to pave the way for more charter-ish/TFA-ish innovation, and we have been careful not to make any requests that could facilitate those efforts. Not that I believe for a moment we have any power to stop them. Once they say "yes" to alts, they can probably say "yes" to people they say "yes" to all the time anyway that much easier. Anyway, we have not asked for any CBA exceptions, so don't let anyone tell you we did.

At the October C & I meeting innovation schools were discussed. After an ensuing discussion of waivers (e.g. Schmitz Park math) in the presence of Debell, DeBell departed and the rest of the committee decided to see if Innovation School Autonomy would satisfy his desire for waivers from adopted materials. I hadn't interpreted that to mean that Schmitz Park would be granted "broad autonomy." I can't imagine the district giving anyone more freedom than they actually want - except Mr. Gates of course.

I personally think "innovation schools," where you try something totally different all-around, are a different issue than waivers from aligned curriculum, which allow you to change one thing at a time and directly ask questions that could inform the next adoption cycle.

Chris said...

To tie this all together, we understand that we alts will earn this autonomy (or not) at the conclusion of the self-study, and will retain it upon satisfactory annual reporting to the board.

We have tried and tried to pin Dr. Enfield down on more specifics about what autonomy we will get, and on whether we have any at all before the conclusion of the self-study. She has studiously avoided any clear answers. But, it wouldn't make any sense for us to stop being alternative during the self study, would it? So I refer to the policy as "Don't ask, don't tell."

And that pretty much describes the state of C54. It's still on the books, and they know that they will get a loud outcry if they touch it. So for the time being, both sides are doing just as much as they can get away with.

Let's not let them get away with AS1.

Maureen said...

Thanks Chris!

Josh Hayes said...

Thanks for the informative series, there, Chris. I'm sure I speak for the rest of the AS1 community when I say, heck yeah!

And in my meeting with Harium a couple of weeks back it's clear that he's regarding the "self-study" idea as a substitute for a formal audit. If someone wants to set him straight on that, they'll have to, uh... set him straight on that.

A Schmitz Park Parent said...

Funny...DeBell is talking about Schmitz Park as a "School of Innovation" and yet nobody that works at the school has even heard about this nonsense. In fact, the staff generally wants nothing to do with the downhill slide of curriculum policies trundled by the district. Schmitz Park is one of those "5" schools for all the wrong reasons in the eyes of the district. It is because its teachers don't do what the district sends their way that they do so well.

Science, Math, Reading, strong Arts and PE programs (all designed by staff) are what makes Schmitz Park tick. And yet, you'll never find a Board member there to ask the "why's" of success. In fact MGJ disparages its math program every chance she gets. Why disparage the highest performing math school in the district? Perhaps its the demographic.

dan dempsey said...

About Schmitz Park is was written:

"In fact MGJ disparages its math program every chance she gets. Why disparage the highest performing math school in the district?

One rises to the Top in "The Elite Circles" of Education by pushing the practices recommended by other members of these elites in the circle, which are called "Best Practices"

These "Best Practices" have nothing to do with results. This is particularly evident when examining results that occur when these practices are used.

The incoherent disruptive spiraling of Everyday Math is praised by the SPS Math Program manager for it is a "Best Practice".

The Best Practice program of "Writers' WorkShop" is not adequate preparation for Collegiate success. Weak to non-existent teaching of grammar, focus on the small moment, and neglect of persuasive logical fact based writing are characteristics of this "Best Practice" program of "dumbing down".

Note both of the above programs on OSPI annual testing produce inadequate measures of change in student academic accomplishment. This inadequacy is particularly true for educationally disadvantaged learners.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson rose to the "Top" not on accomplishment but by talking the "Ed Elite Talk", which has ZERO to do with results.


Note: Cleveland ranked in the bottom 5% of schools in the state not just because of poverty but rather because of a three-year unmonitored math experiment (2006-2009) by UW experts that produced very poor WASL Math scores in the 3-year period evaluated by the state to determine the bottom 5% of schools.

I have no idea if MGJ's employment continues because she is a good soldier in the "ED Deform Army" or because the majority of SPS Directors have no perception of "evidence based" decision making and/or no connection with reality.

After watching this ongoing Circus of Best Practices based on Sham Fakery, McLaren and Dempsey stated to the Board, on May 20, 2009, that Legal Action was required and the Public would bring it.

The Board and Superintendent still do not "Get It". Evidence based decision-making is still a rarity. Laws and policies are still broken. Court orders are ignored and appealed by the District. The flow of lies and deception is unbroken by legal action thus far.

Next move will be conviction of MGJ on charges of misleading public officials, who apparently enjoy being mislead.

It is apparent to any close unbiased observer of relevant data what is going on here. We are being ruled by an oligarchy. The only hope for citizens in a republic is the protection provided by the law.

There is precious little of that protection available in WA State today. The law, RCW 29A.56.110, written by the Legislature governing "Recall and Discharge" of a public official makes no mention of "Intent" but a perversion of Justice in this situation, called "Case Law", now requires "Intent" for meeting "Recall Sufficiency".

"Case Law" in this situation appears to be "legislation from the bench" cast in stone. The Legislature needs to reassert their authority over the courts in this regard.

A conviction of the Superintendent on charges of misleading public officials, and/or fraud and/or forgery would be sufficient for firing with cause. No Buy out -- Just go away.

Does anyone actually believe any of the four members of the Director Class of 2007 ..... could be shamed into firing their beloved deceptive agent of "Strategic Plan" based change?

More likely we will see MGJ in Jail or Prison first.

dan dempsey said...

About Schmitz Park is was written:

"In fact MGJ disparages its math program every chance she gets. Why disparage the highest performing math school in the district?

One rises to the Top in "The Elite Circles" of Education by pushing the practices recommended by other members of these elites in the circle, which are called "Best Practices"

These "Best Practices" have nothing to do with results. This is particularly evident when examining results that occur when these practices are used.

The incoherent disruptive spiraling of Everyday Math is praised by the SPS Math Program manager for it is a "Best Practice".

The Best Practice program of "Writers' WorkShop" is not adequate preparation for Collegiate success. Weak to non-existent teaching of grammar, focus on the small moment, and neglect of persuasive logical fact based writing are characteristics of this "Best Practice" program of "dumbing down".

Note both of the above programs on OSPI annual testing produce inadequate measures of change in student academic accomplishment. This inadequacy is particularly true for educationally disadvantaged learners.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson rose to the "Top" not on accomplishment but by talking the "Ed Elite Talk", which has ZERO to do with results.


Note: Cleveland ranked in the bottom 5% of schools in the state not just because of poverty but rather because of a three-year unmonitored math experiment (2006-2009) by UW experts that produced very poor WASL Math scores in the 3-year period evaluated by the state to determine the bottom 5% of schools.

I have no idea if MGJ's employment continues because she is a good soldier in the "ED Deform Army" or because the majority of SPS Directors have no perception of "evidence based" decision making and/or no connection with reality.

After watching this ongoing Circus of Best Practices based on Sham Fakery, McLaren and Dempsey stated to the Board, on May 20, 2009, that Legal Action was required and the Public would bring it.

The Board and Superintendent still do not "Get It". Evidence based decision-making is still a rarity. Laws and policies are still broken. Court orders are ignored and appealed by the District. The flow of lies and deception is unbroken by legal action thus far.

(continued ....)

dan dempsey said...

(..... cont)

Next move will be conviction of MGJ on charges of misleading public officials, who apparently enjoy being mislead.

It is apparent to any close unbiased observer of relevant data what is going on here. We are being ruled by an oligarchy. The only hope for citizens in a republic is the protection provided by the law.

There is precious little of that protection available in WA State today. The law, RCW 29A.56.110, written by the Legislature governing "Recall and Discharge" of a public official makes no mention of "Intent" but a perversion of Justice in this situation, called "Case Law", now requires "Intent" for meeting "Recall Sufficiency".

"Case Law" in this situation appears to be "legislation from the bench" cast in stone. The Legislature needs to reassert their authority over the courts in this regard.

A conviction of the Superintendent on charges of misleading public officials, and/or fraud and/or forgery would be sufficient for firing with cause. No Buy out -- Just go away.

Does anyone actually believe any of the four members of the Director Class of 2007 ..... could be shamed into firing their beloved deceptive agent of "Strategic Plan" based change?

More likely we will see MGJ in Jail or Prison first.

dan dempsey said...

Correction to the above posting:

"Recall and Discharge" of a public official

should be:

"Recall and Discharge" of an elected public official

The Directors are elected and theoretically could be Recalled and Discharged.

The Superintendent is NOT elected and thus NOT subject to Recall.

In fact under existing state Law her contract extension could NOT be appealed. As a School Board decision involving a Superintendent's contract may NOT be appealed.

Charlie Mas said...

I have an email from Director Martin-Morris in which he says that there won't be an Alternative Education Review.

He wrote:
"As the district started this work with the Alternative community and the principals they have decided to used the work that was done several years ago and to do a self assessment. The CAO is meeting monthly with the Alternative School Principals and John Miner has been freed for part of his work month to improve practices around the alternative schools."

This, of course, is completely different from what has been discussed in the C & I Committee.

I followed up seeking an explanation.

Jan said...

Charlie: other than the fact that this has never been made public, in committee meetings or otherwise, what are your thoughts on the merits of doing a "lesser" in-house review? Ordinarily, I would love to get something bigger and more robust (and more independent), but my sense has been that (1) the focus of the review was a moving target and not in a good way, and (2) this District tends to ignore anything that is done anyway, after spending a fortune to get it. Given that money is scarce, and studies are rarely used to inform or improve things (unless they are ed reform driven studies, in which case, they will bend them to the predetermined result in any case), how bad is it - in your opinion - that the District has decided to skip this one?

And, the follow on, -- what should parents who like and want to improve the alt school choices and experiences do now, to get a voice in the internal review?