Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Deeds not Words

Ever since the dismissal of the previous superintendent, the District leadership has spoken repeatedly about five things: Governance, Oversight, Community Engagement, Transparency, and Earning the Public's Trust. But just as three and a half years of constant talk about accountability was used to try to mask the total absence of any actual accountability, this talk is not reflected in any of the District leadership's action either. What is the district leadership's record on these values? The real record is in the meeting minutes. The minutes of recent meetings give clear testament to the leadership's real commitment to these ideals.

Governance, at the most fundamental level, is about writing and enforcing policy. But how is it reflected in the minutes? We see new policies that are unenforceable and were written to replace the previous policies that weren't enforced. The new policies on homework and promotion abandon any attempt to actually govern. Instead, they admit that they are just descriptive of what people are doing. It's like "We can't stop shoplifting, so we're going to make it legal." That isn't governance; that is the opposite of governance. That's the district leadership's record on governance.

The minutes also make clear the total lack of commitment to oversight. The minutes of the Strategic Plan Review show no follow up on the promised changes in the School Reports. These changes were promised in December but have not appeared. The Board has not shown any interest in following up. There's no oversight over program placement. There's no oversight over capacity management. There's no oversight at all reflected in these minutes. That's the district leadership's record on oversight.

The minutes also make the leadership's commitment to community engagement clear. They are committed to none of it. Not a single motion brought before the Board in the last three months had any community engagement at all and the community engagement section was removed from the new Board Action Report template. The worst offenders here are the interim superintendent, who didn't require her staff to do any community engagement – not even when formulating the homework policy or the promotion/non-promotion policy – prior to advancing these actions and the four chairs of the Board Committees who recommended each of these motions to the full Board despite the absence of community engagement. Every motion brought the Board without community engagement should be rejected out of hand. They should be rejected at the committee level, but they should certainly be rejected at the Board level. Instead there is no community engagement whatsoever on any motion adopted by this Board since the appointment of the interim superintendent. That's the district leadership's record on community engagement.

Transparency is no better. The meeting minutes show the budgets for each school but do not show how those numbers were derived. There's no budgetary transparency at all. Rainier Beach High School, with 425 students has a staff of 90 – 5 administrators, 5 administrative support people and 80 more staff. That's an adult for every five students. NOVA, with 330 students, has a staff of 23. What are the rules for how schools are allocated their budgets? We can't tell. Why is STEM funded as a traditional school instead of a non-traditional school? It is an option school and an ALE; just how is STEM traditional? And where is the rationale for the program placement decisions? Nowhere. This is the district leadership's record on transparency.

Worst of all, however, is the district leadership's complete lack of effort on building trust. Not only haven't they done what they said they were going to do, but now they are trying to fire the one person who is the primary reason that anyone bought into the planned APP IB program at Ingraham. Is that how they build trust? They continue to fail to fulfill commitments. Is that how they build trust? They refuse to tell the truth. Is that how they build trust? If there is a need to build trust with the public it is because this Board has broken faith with the public consistently over the past three and a half years. There is no trust because they – the Board – and particularly the four elected in 2007 – have proven themselves to be unworthy of trust. That is the district leadership's record on trust. There is nothing in the minutes to suggest that they have changed paths at all.

18 comments:

Peon said...

"homework policy or the promotion/non-promotion policy "

Can someone tell me what the new policy is on homework and promotion/non promotion -or let me know where to find it? Thanks!

dan dempsey said...

The proposed policies on homework and promotion were introduced at the last board meeting and can be found in the introductory items =>

HERE look at section D. items 3 and 4.

dan dempsey said...

HERE are all the old policies that will be replaced if the Board approves the proposed policies... see from C11 thru D46.

Charlie Mas said...

Just to give credit where credit is due, the motto "Deeds not Words" is from Megaforce. Megaforce, for those who are not familiar with it, is among the worst movies ever made.

dan dempsey said...

"The new policies on homework and promotion abandon any attempt to actually govern. Instead, they admit that they are just descriptive of what people are doing. It's like "We can't stop shoplifting, so we're going to make it legal." That isn't governance; that is the opposite of governance."

NO .. it is even worse than above.

The descriptions of past practice are not accurate... in the proposed policy D43=>

"Typically students are promoted annually after meeting the standards required for that grade, spending one year at each grade level. Exceptions should be rare, but will be made when, in the judgment of the professional staff, retention or acceleration is in the best educational interest of the student."
==========
If anyone believes that is typical of how things have happened, then consider =>

In math the Seattle Standards are the 2008 WA Math Standards. These standards were tested for the first time in Spring 2010, using the MSP in grades 3 through 8.

Grade 4 MSP results

Meeting Standard=2,277
Level 4 (exceeds standard) =1,159
Level 3 (met standard) =1,090
Basic (met standard)=28

Not Meeting Standard= 1,395
Level 2 (below standard) = 574
Level 1 (well below standard)= 783
No Score= 38

More than 1 student in five scored at level 1 ... and nearly 2 in five did not meet standard .. ... Typically most of these students were promoted to the next grade level, grade 5.

===========
I believe this is academic fraud.

Fraud hardly builds trust.

Acting in the best interest of the student would require:

(1) Using materials and practices known to work

(2) Providing timely effective and efficient interventions.

The SPS has repeatedly failed on #1 and continually ignores #2.

=======
The proposed D 43 codifies neglect of #2 .... guess that is as close to honesty as the new policy gets.

==========
This failure to provide interventions can be seen in the Spring NWEA/MAP testing for math.

The mean score for Non-Poverty students in grade 1 is not reached until the end of grade 2 for Free and Reduced meal students. This (grade 1) one year lag becomes longer and longer for the FRM students at the higher grades...

The mean (RIT score) for non-poverty students at grade 5 ... is finally attained by Free and Reduced meal students 4 years later at the end of grade 9.

========
Enfield and Sundquist are NWEA/Map enthusiasts when it comes to buying more; perhaps they should look at the results.

Since MAP gives no clue as to what interventions are needed ... the proposed policy no longer mentions interventions.

David said...

So, let's do something about it. Who will run for school board and change this?

Central Mom said...

Dan, are children on IEPs included in your stats?

Anonymous said...

I think you guys do a great job with your blog. We agree on some things and disagree on others. I expect that you will eventually be joining me in a request for a forensic audit. To everything there is a season....

dan dempsey said...

The Stats are from OSPI. As far as I know all students are included.

My guess is that=>
Basic (met standard)=28

might well be IEP students that did not score at level 3 or 4 and yet are included in the group that met standard.

drwilda said...

The last anonymous comment was me. The system didn't ask for a name. I don't do anonymous comments.

drwilda

Anonymous said...

I think you guys do a great job with your blog. We agree on some things and disagree on others. I expect that you will eventually be joining me in a request for a forensic audit. To everything there is a season....

RBHS PTSA said...

Charlie, the correct totals for Rainier Beach staff is 38 certified, 5, classified and 5 admin. We all know that the additional Principal was a waste of our dollars and did a huge disservice to the students, staff and school. What are you referring to when you state the additional 5 administrators and the 80 staff? If we had that many we could have moved mountains.

RBHS PTSA said...

Correction to post. The correct total is 3 admin not 5 admin.

Charlie Mas said...

Here is a link to the Rainier Beach High School staff web page.

You'll see five names in the Administrators section, five in the Administrative Support Staff section, and eighty more.

The school's annual report says that it has only 35 teachers and only 20 other staff for a total of 55 adults for 500 (October 1, 2009 head count) students. The head count this year was 425.

dan dempsey said...

About RBHS staff webpage:

I saw this=>

Doyel, Nancy
AP/IB Instructional Coach

tried to figure out what an AP/IB Instructional Coach might do. After clicking and finding this for schedule =>

Name: Nancy Doyel
Classrooms
(S1) LA 10A - N. Doyel: 2
(S1) LA 10AH - N. Doyel: 4
(S1) LA 11A - N. Doyel: 6
(S1) LA 9AH - N. Doyel: 1
(S2) LA 11B - J. Christensen: 5
(S2) LA 11B - J. Christensen: 6

Departments
Language Arts
--------------------

If there is no IB at RBHS yet, is the coaching happening during (S2) and what and who is the coaching about?

Just wondering.

Kathy said...

Sorry, this is a bit off topic.

It appears TfA has partnered with University of Washington.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2015029322_teachforamerica12m.html

sp. said...

Thanks for the update, Kathy.

While this is not unexpected, it is highly hypocritical of UW. As I've commented earlier, the main problem Dean Tom Stritikus -- and U.W. itself -- faces if U.W. sponsors TFA,Inc. is, how can he not come across as a hypocrite?

After all, there he would be, telling one group of students that it takes a full year of dedicated preparation and study towards an education degree, and actual in-class, on the job, student-teaching experience to be fully qualified and ready to be a solid teacher, while telling another group, a five-week crash course is all you need.

To have these two programs side by side at U.W. will send a pretty schizophrenic message to the students there. It's also a recipe for huge resentment.
(I've already heard that student teachers in UW's regular program are not happy about this.)

What's more, both groups would be ostensibly vying for the same jobs.

Add to that the fact that students in the U.W. MA teaching program are likely paying their own way (or into debt), while the TFA-ers get their training funded by TFA, Inc. ($50 million of it coming from taxpayers via the Obama Administration's largesse) and local school districts (including SPS) which have to pay an extra bonus of at least $4,000 per year for each TFA-er they hire, and you've got economic inequality in the mix as well.

Also, how could Stritikus, a TFA alum, not show favoritism towards the TFA-ers? So there's a potential conflict of interest problem well.

The U.W Dept of Ed site emphasizes the rigor of the state teaching requirements and U.W.'s teaching program: "In order to meet State of Washington requirements for teacher certification, the requirements of the Teacher Education Program are rigorous and highly structured." More details about U.W.'s MA in teaching program can be found here.

More info on who pays for what for TFA, Inc. can be found here.

Here's a local teacher's perspective on TFA, RIFs, and the non-shortage of teachers in SPS: Letter from a Teacher to Superintendent Enfield and Seattle School Board: Please don’t outsource our jobs to TFA.

--Sue p.

Lori said...

Who pays for the UW/TfA alliance? The Times says that the first-year TfA teachers will have weekly classes at UW and do on-line classes too. I assume that TfA covers these costs?

If so, it seems possible to me that UW views this as an easy source of cash in these bleak economic times. Heck, Florida State University just entered into an agreement to allow the right-wing Koch Foundation to be involved in hiring economics professors. For $1.5 million, Koch gets to have veto power over candidates, thus ensuring professors will have the appropriate ideological outlook to satisfy the funder.

That's what it's come to. If the public doesn't want to support its public institutions, private ideologues are more than happy to fill the void, sadly to the detriment of the public. I'd be curious about the financial arrangement between UW and TfA given this background.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kathy, I'll have a complete thread on this. This is bullshit.

Lori, I'll have answers to your questions soon but no, TFA isn't paying for this.