A lawsuit has been filed against the district and Board directors over the Teach for America contract. Here's a story from KOMO-news. Steve Sundquist certainly clear about the fact that TFA recruits are getting certification at the SAME time they are first-year teachers. He doesn't give a single reason to be doing this and claims there is no "obligation" to hire TFA recruits. (Yes, the claim is true but we didn't go to this trouble and cost to NOT hire them.)
Then, from the Huffington Post, a story by the lawyer, John Affeldt, representing the plaintiffs in the California case in the 9th Circuit over this issue. He found that in a Senate appropriations bill, there had been an amendment slipped in to allow novice teachers to be called "highly qualified" and to concentrate their numbers in poor, minority schools. It is unknown which senator inserted this amendment. The bill has since been pulled. From the story:
The provision, which has grassroots and community groups across the country up in arms, would have permitted teachers still training in night or weekend alternative preparation programs (known as interns in some states) to be labeled as "highly qualified" teachers. That designation relieves districts of having to tell parents of the teacher's sub-par preparation and allows their continued concentration in poor and minority schools.
The attempt to insert the controversial language comes just weeks after a panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Renee v. Duncan agreed with low-income students and community organizations that teachers still in training are not "highly qualified" under NCLB and, as such, would have to be publicly reported and equitably distributed. Teach for America, which has vociferously opposed the lawsuit and has substantial clout on Capitol Hill, is the most likely suspect behind the covert attempt to overturn the court's decision through stealth legislation.
The community groups in their letter to Congress and the plaintiffs in Renee have been clear: they are not seeking to end alternate route programs. They do object, however, to the disproportionate placement of alternate route trainees in low-income communities of color--especially when doing so obviates the need to enact policies that attract and retain permanent, fully-prepared teachers versus the churn of temporary interns--and they want full disclosure of the under-prepared teachers' qualifications.
Another story I found interesting was an article at Crosscut comparing SPS capital building and Portland's efforts. Portland is very similar in size to Seattle as well as having the problem of aging buildings and not making improvements. Seattle, though, has a much larger property-tax base. Portland and Seattle have similar voting patterns for school levies. Portland, though, likes its superintendent, Carole Smith, who has support from her Board and many constituencies.
From the article:
Smith brought much-needed stability to the school system after the district went through six superintendents in 15 years since Matthew Prophet left following a 10-year tenure.
In an era where big-city school leaders are likely to come from a business background, Smith's career is in alternative education and programs for urban youth. Smith took over a foundering open-schools program Portland offered for non-traditional learners in 1982 and made it into a model program before leaving for central office administration in 2005.
She's been with the district for 28 years. Insiders praise her work with students and parents at Jefferson High School, one of the district's most-troubled schools, as well as with the alternative Open Meadows School. She is considered a good listener and communicator as well as an innovator; the district has initiated several experimental programs for students with learning problems in recent years and she is driving a high-school reorganization plan that will be advanced if the bonds are approved in 2011.
I might have to interview this woman.
Also, just a few senators (both Democrat and Republican) dashed the hopes of minority students by voting against the DREAM act. Whatever you feel about illegal immigrants, the children brought here who are trying to make something of their lives and have nothing to go home to (as this is the only home they know), now won't be able to be better members of our society. Until the day we deport all illegal immigrants and/or pass a comprehensive immigration bill, we might want to not shoot ourselves in the foot by not allowing them access to higher education and/or military service.