Friday, May 06, 2011

Open Thread Friday

What's on your mind?

No Community Meetings tomorrow with Board members.

Upcoming threads; furloughs still on the table for the Legislature, foundations try to throw yet more money for ed reform, Reuven Carlyle weighs in on paying School Board members a real salary.

Appreciations

Today is the last day of Teacher Appreciation Week.  Know a special teacher?  Tell them thank you for the work they do.  My high school band teacher, not a "fun" teacher, died recently and he taught me more about striving for excellence and the discipline that takes than any other teacher.  Thank you, Mr. Brendan.

Hey Moms, it's Mother's Day.  Thanks to the moms that raised us and thanks to all the moms out there who love, nuture and advocate for their children.

The Daily Beast says Seattle is the 4th best place in the U.S. to "mom."  (The same survey gives schools a 6 out of 10.)

69 comments:

Salander said...

Assignment plan-

"Colleagues – as you know, the new student assignment plan means changes to FTE that do not allow us to offer the full range of ELD content area classes. Next year you will have 9th and 10th graders who would be in ELD if we offered it. In other words, students who may be reading/writing in the 5th grade range."

LG said...

I received this in an email from Kay Smith-Blum:

"FOCUS GROUPS FOR PARENTS

Want to share your public school experience? Lesley Lavery of the University of Wisconsin-Madison is reaching out to Seattle public school parents to hear their views on the state of the public schools, school reform, and the connection between government and schools. She
will compile this data and send it to the district and our elected officials. To share your views or invite Lesley to a parent meeting in your community, contact her at 503-428-2858 or lavery@wisc.edu."

Here is the reply I got from Ms. Lavery:

"My name is Lesley Lavery and I am conducting research on the relationship
between education policies and parent views toward education and government. I NEED
YOUR INPUT! Please come share your views on the schools with me and other concerned parents:

Wednesday, May
11, 5-6pm
New Holly
Library Meeting Room
7058 32nd Ave S.

Thursday, May
26, 6-7pm
Beacon Hill
Library Meeting Room
2821 Beacon Ave. S.

For more information feel free to call or email. Please also pass on to other concerned parents."

I'm not sure if it's worth the effort or not. This is for Ms. Laverly's PhD and whether or not the feedback will make any difference I couldn't tell you, but they are in my part of town so I may go.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks LG, I had heard of this but it promptly fell off my radar.

Whether it helps our district, it's a good opportunity to have a public discussion about education that is not directed by the district, the Alliance or any of the other usual suspects.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that both of the meetings are situated in the south end. I would imagine that few north end parents would make the trip—especially at rush hour. It seems as if Ms. Lavery might specifically want parents from lower-income and/or more diverse families—if she has any clue of Seattle's demographics at all. The times are also pretty onerous for most parents—especially those that work.

I would suggest that parents in other parts of the city contact Ms. Lavery so a more representative sample can be taken. And, unfortunately, I agree with Melissa...I am not sure how much this data will benefit the families of Seattle.

SolvayGirl

WV thinks I'm a a smart cookie today: mensa

Jamie said...

Salmon Bay is expanding their elementary school capacity. From the letter sent this week:

In the next school year we will be adding seats for more elementary students. In our current configuration, we have one and a half classes at each grade level. Over the next two years, in stages, we will add the equivalent of ½ more class at each grade, which will result in having two full classes at each grade level, and a total capacity of 320 instead of 240 elementary students.

anti-racist white said...

Lesley Lavery works for the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) under Dan Goldhaber, which supports "school choice." (From their website http://www.cedr.us/: "Choice and competition for students was promoted prominently in the early 1990s as a key ingredient for spurring educational productivity improvements (see, for instance, Politics, Markets, and America’s Schools by John Chubb and Terry Moe). Since then there has been considerable growth in educational options through charter schools, and, in some selected cases, vouchers allowing parents to spend public dollars on private school education. CEDR researchers have made important contributions to our knowledge of the implications of choice and competition.") "School choice" is a poor substitute for desegregation and equity, IMO.

Seattle-Ed2010 said...

Melissa said...
(re Leslie Lavery)


Whether it helps our district, it's a good opportunity to have a public discussion about education that is not directed by the district, the Alliance or any of the other usual suspects.


Actually, Lavery does have a connection to the usual suspects after all.

She is a former Teach for America recruit, for starters, and she currently works for the Center for Education Data & Research, with Dan Goldhaber. From what I've read CEDR conducts studies that push a corporate ed reform wish list: end to seniority, support for tying teacher evaluations to standardized testing (merit pay), etc.

See: http://www.cedr.us/researchers_lavery.html

"Lesley Lavery

Lesley Lavery, a PhD Candidate in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, is an affiliated researcher with CEDR. Lesley's research interests focus on education policy, political behavior, and civic participation. Her dissertation examines how education policies structure parents’ social and political behaviors and views towards school authorities and government.

Lesley holds degrees from Willamette University (BA, Politics) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (MA, Political Science). Prior to her graduate studies Lesley taught 2nd grade in San Jose, California with Teach for America."


I have this from another source:
"Goldhaber is also on the review board for the Broad Prize and an expert at the "Flunked Solutions" website, which promotes Green Dot schools & "school choice." Their list of "solution," include merit pay, high-stakes testing, dismantling of units, and deregulating schools to "basic health, safety, and civil rights standards." http://flunkedsolutions.com/solutions/

And take a look at this site:
http://www.edvoices.com/blog/2011/01/11/rif-raff-double-talk-hidden-agendas-the-real-solution-to-the-teacher-layoff-debate/


(...) Corporate-model education reformers, salivating at the opportunities afforded them by current economic conditions, are pushing for RIF to occur on the basis of student standardized test scores. A “study” – exclusively released to the Associated Press in December – claims to provide a research-based rationale for such a RIF system. However, in typical corporate-charter-privatization reform style, this study is deliberately misleading. Not only that, but its premise rests entirely on a favorite logical fallacy of education-reformers: the false dichotomy.


(...)
This “study” was conducted by the Center for Education Data and Research (CEDR). Lead author Dan Goldhaber is an affiliated scholar at the Urban Institute. The Urban Institute has a well-documented track record of misleading publications and publicity stunts designed to garner support for the corporate-reform agenda. The Urban Institute also receives funding from the Gates Foundation.

More than half the “researchers” listed on the CEDR website have ties to the corporate-reform agenda. Mike Puma comes from the Urban Institute and now from Abt Associates, Inc., a group that conducts research for the Gates Foundation. Lesley Lavery is a Teach for America alum. Mark Long hails from the West Coast Poverty Center, a Gates-funded organization. In fact, CEDR itself is substantially funded by the Gates Foundation. With such a pedigree and the absence of peer review, this “study” is questionable at best.


So if Lavery is conducting research for a CEDR report, it may be along these lines.

--Sue p.

LG said...

You all are good, I didn't even think to check out Ms. Lavery!

LG said...

On a more positive note, the

2011 Middle & High School
Naramore Art Exhibit

featuring ~150 works from SPS students opened last night at the Seattle Art Museum. It runs through June 4.

Anonymous said...

I guess my suspicions about the narrow focus was not unwarranted...

SG

Anonymous said...

Does Kay Smith-Blum know of Ms. Lavery background?It explains why she is heading south of the city. Good breeding ground for charters with all the vulnerable (Level 1 and 2) schools.

Friday reader

Salander said...

No mention of why the district is riffing 30 experienced teachers and paying out to hire 25 TFA teachers.
No mention of cutting the bloted administrative staff.

Who were these people who were cut at mid year? All the usual suspects seem to retain their bloated job titles with the bloated salaries. This district is SO BLOODY dysfuctional.

Dear staff,

In these challenging budget times, I want to assure you we are doing everything we can to keep budget cuts from affecting students and our classrooms.

However, given the uncertainty of the state budget, and our need to balance our own District budget, we made the difficult decision to ask the School Board for permission for a reduction in force, or RIF, of 70 positions. This comes shortly after significant mid-year reductions in our Central Office.

As of now, the Legislature has yet to reach a compromise budget, but we know the projections for education funding are dismal. Substantial reductions in state and federal funding will have a dramatic impact on our 2011-12 budget. This is on top of $24.5 million of cuts in 2009-10 and $12.5 million earlier this year.
While final reductions in state funding for K-12 are not yet known, it is clear that we will need to have a reduction in force. Because we are legally bound to notify any certificated staff member by May 15 if we are considering not renewing their contract, the School Board passed a resolution at Wednesday’s meeting authorizing me to take action as necessary at this time.
Regrettably, we must inform approximately 30 certificated staff that we do not expect to renew their contracts for 2011-12 at this time. Principals whose staff will be directly affected by this RIF are in the process of informing those employees. In addition, approximately 40 classified staff are affected by the reduction action.
This is a very difficult decision. I value each and every one of our staff. Your dedication in the classroom, or to support the classroom, is the core of our work to ensure every student receives a quality education.
It is our hope that a certain number of these affected staff may be called back based on increased enrollment, leaves, grant awards, retirements and resignations. In the meantime, our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) remains a valuable and confidential service available to all Seattle Public Schools staff.
I will continue to keep you informed during this most difficult budget process. As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,
Susan

Anonymous said...

A letter just sent to building staff:

Dear staff,

In these challenging budget times, I want to assure you we are doing everything we can to keep budget cuts from affecting students and our classrooms.

However, given the uncertainty of the state budget, and our need to balance our own District budget, we made the difficult decision to ask the School Board for permission for a reduction in force, or RIF, of 70 positions. This comes shortly after significant mid-year reductions in our Central Office.

As of now, the Legislature has yet to reach a compromise budget, but we know the projections for education funding are dismal. Substantial reductions in state and federal funding will have a dramatic impact on our 2011-12 budget. This is on top of $24.5 million of cuts in 2009-10 and $12.5 million earlier this year.
While final reductions in state funding for K-12 are not yet known, it is clear that we will need to have a reduction in force. Because we are legally bound to notify any certificated staff member by May 15 if we are considering not renewing their contract, the School Board passed a resolution at Wednesday’s meeting authorizing me to take action as necessary at this time.
Regrettably, we must inform approximately 30 certificated staff that we do not expect to renew their contracts for 2011-12 at this time. Principals whose staff will be directly affected by this RIF are in the process of informing those employees. In addition, approximately 40 classified staff are affected by the reduction action.
This is a very difficult decision. I value each and every one of our staff. Your dedication in the classroom, or to support the classroom, is the core of our work to ensure every student receives a quality education.
It is our hope that a certain number of these affected staff may be called back based on increased enrollment, leaves, grant awards, retirements and resignations. In the meantime, our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) remains a valuable and confidential service available to all Seattle Public Schools staff.
I will continue to keep you informed during this most difficult budget process. As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,
Susan

-I wonder how many certificated staff will be RiF'd from JSCEE?

-never gets a straight answer

Anonymous said...

NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on Friday that he intended to eliminate 4,100 teaching jobs through layoffs, and about 2,000 through attrition, marking the first significant layoffs of teachers since the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.

The job cuts are part of Mr. Bloomberg’s effort to slice an additional $400 million from various city agencies. He needs to plug a multibillion-dollar deficit in his $65.6 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. That budget is about the same size as the current one.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

1- Whenever I get depressed about Seattle public schools I think of NYC with Bloomberg. Example #1 of why mayoral control would be devastating for our community.

2- Decided I am NOT down with PTSA pushing to stop funding school staff positions. Money talks. If PTAs cannot dedicate funds to their liking, what power does PTA have? Not like the business Alliance is going to stop funding their preferred positions at HQ or for dedicated use within the school system. Why should we?

-skeptical-

Dora Taylor said...

Nice work 2010 on Lavery.

First announcement:

Parents Across America Seattle, a real grassroots organization, is meeting tomorrow, Saturday, May 7th at 2:00 PM in Volunteer Park in front of the Noguchi (Big Tire) Sculpture.

Bring lawn chairs and blankets. This will be a time to get to know members and hear about our goals and plans for this summer and fall.

We will also be discussing potential school board candidates. PAA Seattle plans to support viable candidates in conjunction with two other organizations. Working with other organizations makes our voices stronger and clearer.

This will be a time to chat and get to know each other.

Family members and children are welcomed.

If it rains, we will head to Vios on 19th and Aloha.

Dora

Dora Taylor said...

One more announcement:

Architecture 101 Summer Workshops are available for students of all ages.

Checkout Architecture 101.

Dora

Central Mom said...

Interested in Jamie's Salmon Bay letter. Does this indicate total growth for the school, or is S.B. pulling back on middle school seats?

After this year's NSAP changes, which saw Salmon Bay w/out a waiting list at middle school for the first time in ages, Tracy Libros (enrollment) made repeated comments that K-8 education isn't necessarily popular w/ families. The alt-ed community pushed back, saying continued access and support of alt schools were very badly marketed/explained in the 1st year of NSAP enrollment.

So whether Salmon Bay is growing at both the elementary and middle school level, or just the elementary level, is an interesting data point.

Kathy said...

"Substantial reductions in state and federal funding will have a dramatic impact on our 2011-12 budget. This is on top of $24.5 million of cuts in 2009-10 and $12.5 million earlier this year."

During times of diminishing state funds, the district and majority of the board led the district down a path of new and non-sustainable initiatives.

The district handed out administrative raises, entered contractual agreements with SEA, spent $4M on MAP computers, unknown dollars on an academic warehouse, funded Research, Evaluation and Assessment $3M yr.

The WSS has been chopped up; funding is exiting our schools. Now...it is time to let staff go. Strategic and non-sustainable initiatives remain.

Anonymous said...

Lawton just hired a new assistant principal in anticipation of enrollment exceeding 450 (by 9 students) next year.

In light of RIFs, is this deal set in stone?

Could the principal have opted for teachers instead of the asst. P, or does she have no option?

If Lawton comes in under 450 next year, does the AP and associated expense stay at Lawton anyway?

SPS Dad

KG said...

SPS dad,

The answer is yes the District needs more administrators, especially centrally so they can help students from remote locations. They need to RIF more teachers so they can have two administrators per teacher. You know administration is important.

Salander said...

How to end this madness??? The mismanagment worsens every day with no end in sight.
The district seems to be oblivious to what is so clear to everyone else.
Yet it appears that there is nothing we can do to keep them from robbing our students to support their dysfunction.

RS said...

Salander - How's this for a solution: take the problem to the school board, but not the usual way . . . .

http://www.minorityreporter.net/fullstory.php?id=456

Chris S. said...

I'm a little out of it here - watching the RIFs from a safe distance - so please help me.

Linda Shaw's article said 30 teacher FTEs were going, plus some other, but now it's 70? Also, LS had painstaking detail on the level & subject area of RIFed positions, but some vague comment about 90 gone from "Central." Now SE says "significant mid-year reductions at Central" --even more vague.

I know I can dig out the details of the teacher RIFs, but the central, I doubt it. That 90 number is a lot like last year's number, that turned out to be more like 19. Anyone have some good numbers, or even good guesses, about what was cut from central?

And the coaches can't be riffed, because they have seniority, right? Maybe I could make a compromise with the reformers that teachers give up their seniority when they are no longer in the classroom, every day, with students. Non-adult students, that is.

Anonymous said...

SPS Dad:
There's a matrix for funding that allocates resources. They may not have had a choice in the new principal as the staffing matrix is set. I don't know if the staffing matrixes are available to the public, but they should be.

Former teacher

Eric B said...

30 teaching positions, plus another 40 other positions (office staff, intervention staff, counselors, etc.).

seattle citizen said...

Please please please are there any tech-heads out there who can tell us why google-blog is eating our posts...I KNOW I should now copy my post before I try and post it, because chances are 50/50 it will get eaten, but my blood pressure is rising...rising...Auurrghh!

salmon bay parent said...

Central Mom,
Salmon Bay, which has a "mushroom model" (more middle school seats than elementary seats), will keep the same number of MS seats that they currently have. They are expanding the number of elementary seats however. The district always views the school as under capacity, building-wise. In addition, this will have a side-efffect of helping to fill those middle school seats. Last year was the first year without a MS waiting list, probably due to the NSAP, the new lack of transportation, and the lack of explanation of how to apply to option schools under the NSAP.

Anonymous said...

How much do elementary school assistant prinicipal make anyway? What is their job descriptions?

In anycase, Lawton may be one of those failing schools that need 2 full time adminstrators. If so, since we are getting rid of school counselors, maybe getting an assistant principal maybe helpful for Lawton.

Parent

Anonnymouse said...

I just barely caught part of a rerun of the May 4th work session. Looks like the district is considering getting rid of the Peterson buses and drivers? Three board members raised concerns of possible anti-trust violation (which apparently is being addressed), the concept of getting rid of union drivers, and basic safety for kids of bus drivers who know the students are gone. But I don't know what happened after that. Anybody see it?

Jan said...

seattle citizen: on the issue of post-munching blogs, here is what I have found.

Unless my posts are VERY short (sigh -- they rarely are), they get munched the FIRST time I post -- when the post is followed by the log in. Something in the log in process seems to eat the post. Once I am logged in, if I make another comment, it generally goes through.

The other thing -- if you are pushed for time and don't want to copy so you can resubmit, I just use the other signin -- for name/url, and sign myself in that way.

So yes, I think when they updated the host awhile ago -- so that the log in is now on a new page that opens, it did something that eats posts.

Jan said...

Salander: could you remind me exactly what ELD means -- who these kids are (in layman speak).

Jan

seattle citizen said...

Thanks, Jan, that helps! (Is this short enough to make it without getting eaten? Let's see:

(Word Verifier thanks memate Jan, too!)

seattle citizen said...

Speaking of technology, LEV is bringing some techies to town to talk about how they want to digitize youth, uh, use technology in the classroom:

(from their blog post)
"Technology has revolutionized our lives. But has it changed education in the 21st century?

Join us to hear leaders share their experiences using technology to deliver better individualized learning and outcomes for students.

John Danner, CEO of Rocketship Education
Cheryl Vedoe, CEO of Apex Learning
Shantanu Sinha, President of Khan Academy
Moderated by Tom Vander Ark
Innovations in Learning:
Technology in (and out of) the Classroom
Thursday, June 9 at 7:00 p.m.
University of Washington
Kane Hall, Room 210
4098 15th Ave NE, Seattle (map)
Read More | RSVP for this free, public event"

WV had a long, hard week and bemoans, "sormi"

mirmac1 said...

Make sure you are not logged into one of your other accounts under a different name, like google docs or scribd.com etc.

I find some of my posts with hyperlinks don't make it out of the ethersphere. Yes, it's frustrating.

StepJ said...

WA. State collects a tax amnesty windfall of $321 million which it will apply to the budget gap.

Disgusted said...

Looks like LEV believes we have funds for computers.

Then again, perhaps we can buy more computer equipment and lay off counselors. Wait- they already did that.

seattle citizen said...

I'm wondering who is the power player behind LEV. The Alliance, we know, has Gates running it's funding and interactions with District.
LEV seems to be bringing in all the "star" reformers with its "speaker series." I think LEV is the Broad propagandist. I don't think a small "hom grown" organization would have the pull to bring in these edu-businesses; LEV is merely the front for the organization of edu-business itself (that organization, I believe, is the New Schools group.)

So which local organization is actually independent? Not Stand For Children, not Partnership, not the Alliance or LEV...All these groups are (or have become) mere shills for New Schools and the foundations.

Too bad. We really don't need national Reform directing our "citizen action."

Salander said...

Jan-

ELD is the new ELL,= students who are just learning English. Many of these students are not literate in their home language.

The new ELD director believes these students should all be mainstreamed even if they cannot read or write in any language.

mirmac1 said...

ELD is the ICS for non-english speakers. Throw 'em in the pool and watch if they sink or swim. Eventually, charterize their schools so cheap "teachers" can teach the test (or better yet slap some headphones on them) while the entrepreneurs put the education money in their personal bank accounts.

dan dempsey said...

"The new ELD director believes these students should all be mainstreamed even if they cannot read or write in any language."

Very interesting as the revised D 43.00 for promotion/ non-promotion introduced on May 4th no longer mentions interventions. So when mainstreaming does not work .. Struggling Students will likely not be provided any interventions, as interventions will no longer mentioned in board policy if the Board adopts D 43.00 on May 18th.

The proposed D 43.00 =>
It is the policy of the Seattle School Board to recognize the concept of individualized instruction and the development of each student's potential. Promotion from grade to grade should be based upon consideration of the academic and other developmental factors of the student. Promotion from grade to grade at the high school level is based on the number of credits a student has earned as outlined by School Board Policy D 15.00 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. Retention or acceleration will only be made after a collaborative process between the school staff and the student's parent/guardians. However, the final decision regarding placement, promotion, acceleration, or retention will rest with the principal or, for students receiving special education services, with the student’s individualized education plan (IEP) team.
============

Spring 2010 the MSP tested the 2008 WA Math Standards. The are supposedly the standards used by the Seattle Schools.

Black Grade 4 math results by level.
Not meeting Standards 71.8%

Level 4 = 7.3%
Level 3 = 20.5%
Level 2 = 20.1%
Level 1 = 50.8% far below basic

Limited English Speakers Grade 4 math results by level.
Not meeting Standards 79.0%

Level 4 = 4.6%
Level 3 = 14.9%
Level 2 = 22.6%
Level 1 = 56.4% far below basic

=================

So how rare were the exceptions when it came to promotion of students who scored far below basic on the MSP math test that measured the Math Standards used by the Seattle Schools?

whitney said...

Meg Diaz -- We need you!!!

Please give an analysis of the JSCEE budget. They say they are cutting, but then they add a 6th Excecutive Director, one of the highest-salaried positions in the district, and positions held by the least-experienced people, such as Bree Dusseault.

Kay Smith-Blum pledged to be a watchdog on this, but I fear she has been bought off by Enfield. (I am sick of seeing them chat so chummily during School Board meetings.)

Meanwhile, great teachers and counselors in our buildings are being RIF'd in the name of "we have no money."

Meg, what do you see?

Just Saying said...

Join in the chant:

Meg, Meg, Meg, Meg,

Where are you?

Sahila said...

@SC... Nick Hanuer founder/funder of LEV is a multi-billionaire venture capitalist...

He sold one of his companies to Microsoft for $6 Billion....


and read this old report about conflict of interest issues surrounding him, vis a vis education and the monorail....

http://www.usefulwork.com/shark/archives/002264.html

KG said...

I agree, we need Meg Diaz to address this continued egregious behavior by the School Board.

Individuals are trying to tell the Board and Superintendent that District is spending atrocious amounts on Central admin.

This continues to fall on deaf ears as it has for well over a decade.

The superintendent and Board say they want to re-build trust with the public and employees but definitley that is cheap talk.

Large amounts of people need to show up at the next Board meeting and demand change.

We need to do this for the children, since the Board will not.

FYI said...

2011-12 and 2012-13 School calendars will be approved by the Board this month.

Starting in the 2012-2013 school year, the Feb. mid-winter break will be shortened to one day off the Friday before President's Day, making it a 4 day weekend.

Dora Taylor said...

Check this out, Strategies 360 is active in Tacoma now beating the drum of ed reform in anticipation of teacher contract negotiations. Sound familiar?

First the faux roots "coalitions" then the op-ed's.

Lori said...

FYI, does that mean the school year ends a few days earlier in June relative to this year? Or are the 4 other days that would normally be mid-winter break instead turned into random days off throughout the year?

thanks.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kids, I already reported on the school calendar under "It's Late but Interesting."

Seattle-Ed2010 said...

Astroturf Alert! Strategies 360 is at it again - this time in Tacoma.

A bit of URL registration sleuthing (and other evidence) has revealed that Strategies 360 has created yet another faux 'coalition' with the same genesis, make-up, objectives and demands as the "Our Schools Coalition." Just in time to infiltrate and influence the Tacoma teachers' contract negotiations which begin this month.

Heads up, Tacoma teachers! Don’t be fooled by the “Vibrant Schools Tacoma Coalition

What this latest entity is primarily pushing for, I believe, is to tie teacher evaluations to standardized test scores -- "performance pay" -- using Seattle as an example. (See:
A new player in teacher talks, Tacoma News Tribune.

That's bad news. Here in Seattle, the "performance pay" stipulation which regrettably made it into last year's teachers' contact, has only led to the misuse of the excessive and expensive MAP test and pressure on teachers to teach to the test. This is bad for our kids and bad for teaching.

Hopefully Tacoma can learn from Seattle's mistakes and not go down this path.

And isn't it reassuring to know that the shady Strategies 360 is now in charge of SPS communications? ...!

- Sue p.

(p.s. original post got eaten by Blogger, so apologies if this ends up being a dupe.)

Unions Need to Grow Up said...

I say knee-jerk reaction, SeattleEd. Unions are great, but grow up and act like professionals. Teachers really do need to be evaluated like any other worker. Find a way to do it and don't boo people at school board meetings. That is not professional at all. The folks on the Tacoma coalition look pretty legit to me, League of Education Voters? Please tell me what is their hidden and sinister objective. Show me the money.

signed,
Public means accountable.

mirmac1 said...

Dear Public,

As a minority parent, I resent the manipulation/manufacture of these so-called representative community orgs, to inject the corporate perspective into public education. What a bunch of pawns. They should open their eyes and see who's paying and making the big bucks to push this drivel.

seattle citizen said...

Public,
Districts, unions, the feds, the states...all are addressing the question of educator evaluation (including principals and classifieds...should include boards and edu-reform puppetmasters, too, but that's another story.)

It's not easy. "Grow up, unions!" you say? How rude. Unions protect their membership (edcuators protect educators...and students...) from bad evaluation procedures, as they should. SEA, the Seattle local, has worked with SPS admin to refine the evaluation process recently, and this is as it should be. To jump into the unproven waters of the Reformers' pond would be stupid of SEA and SPS.

Not fast enough for you? Tough. Bad evaluations affect students as well as educators, and shouldn't be rushed. There really is no simple answer, but all concerned ARE looking at change.

Public, why don't you peruse this blog for a variety of opinions and ideas about evaluation, about Strategies 360, uh, I mean the Our Schools Coalition and the Vibrant Schools Tacoma Coalition" to get an idea about why some on this thread are so offended, pissed off, and agitated by S360 and its minions? You write that "the folks on the Tacoma coalition look pretty legit to me." How so? Have you noted that S360's OSC and VSTC both share the exact same sort of list of supporters? Both are "coalitions" (manufactured by S360, a PR company) of minority groups and the usual Reform suspects, such as LEV and P4K. Please share with us why you think these groups are all "legitimate." Please share with us why you think these two coalitions both have the same boilerplate text on their websites?

Your apparently unknowledgeable granting of legitimacy to groups you probably know nothing about, groups you've evidently only seen the names of on the cheap websites of S360, uh, OSC and VSTC, leaves me with the distinct feeling that your words are merely vitriol spewed at "immature" union educators and all the non-educator people who have done the research and know wherefrom they speak.

So tell us, in order to ease my mind: Why, exactly, do you grant legitimacy to the OSC, VSTC, and their parent, Strategies 360? Explain.

seattle citizen said...

Part I of following the money for Public:
Public, the money (since you asked to be shown the money) flows from the Gates, Broad and Walton Foundations, and from the Reform-driven US Dept of Ed, to schools and districts that do it THEIR way. Local districts? Not under the carrot of big bucks dangled by the feds with Race to the Top (look it up).
Local districts? Not with millions and millions of dollars "strategically" spent by the above-named foundations, each aimed at reforming education into THEIR vision. Nothing local about it: Those non-educators, the "leaders" who recently graduated out of Teach For America (after a long and grueling two years in the classroom...they are happy to be NOT teaching but rather telling teachers what to do) join an edu-business model that purports to tell the world it knows what it's doing, it has The Way. It doesn't. Research tells us "reform" is no more effective that other changes that have been tried over the years to address poverty and motivation...

The money comes from them. It goes to Strategies 360; to carefully placed Reformers such as the four Broad graduates placed in SPS (and half-paid by Broad); it goes to the Alliance for Education, League of Education Voters, Partnership for Learning, and other "grassroots coalitions."
(continued: where money GOES)

seattle citizen said...

Part II of following the money for Public: Where money GOES

It goes to computerized tests sold to SPS: NWEA corporation, a non-profit, sold SPS MAP for hundreds of thousands. (The CEO of NWEA pulls half a mil, not incidently). That contract, as we all know, was set up by our Broad superintendent while she was on the boards of both Broad AND NWEA (and she didn't disclose the NWEA seat to the board as she sold them on MAP)

Gates paid for MAP; WE pay for continuing it.

So what's the payoff for Reformers? The attack on public education opens the doors to selling schools to charter operators and to depofessionalizing edcauton, and also deunionizing. It's the free market approach: There's gold in them there hills. Some, out of the goodness of their hearts, might actually be convinced that the Reform Package (restructure schools...into charters....fire teacher, merit pay, etc) will result in a sort of assmbly line efficiency as "product" (students) is measured, quantified, and pushed along the line, as educators use packaged curriculum (with expensive technology, paid for with tax dollars and spent at the warehouses of Microsoft, Dell, NWEA, et al) and get packaged results.

Some think that's great, but it ain't education and everybody knows it. Everybody knows RELATIONSHIP is education, and you don't get that out of a box. Everybody knows that every child is different, with different needs and styles and levels, and they don't come in boxes either.

But there's money to be made, you can't stop the engine of capitalism that gave us Blackwater, the privatization of our armed forces (now employing John Ashcroft...shudder...) They've found a new money-maker, so they pump money into it expecting great returns with cheap labor, with technology, with standardization, with commodification, with the co-opting of legitimate civil right s issues into a faux concern for minorities...

Heck, public, they're making money on HEDGE FUNDS derived from tax breaks granted to those who purchase some crappy old building in a distressed area and call this factory a "school." They're making money renting buildings to other branches of their entreprise, basically being property managers. They're making money enough to pay the "CEOs" fo charter schools big bucks, to pay the head of NWEA big bucks, and guarantee a docile, ill-informed work force (note that history, the arts, social studies and civics aren't on any state tests, nor are they tested by MAP

Ka-ching! Big bucks in product, selling it and cheapening the cost of educating it; big bucks (public taxpayer bucks) in management. Big bucks in producing enough people, ignorant of labor history or civil rights, to staff the middle-management ranks and work the assembly lines. Sans union.

There's the money, Public. Follow YOUR money, your public education tax dollars, into the coffers of business.

Dorothy Neville said...

Anything new in the Summer School department? Meaning has anyone successfully gotten into a needed credit recovery program?

Just got my 46th LD Dems newsletter and the minutes from April say, "Although money is not available for summer school, Martin-Morris said that negotiations are taking place with colleges in the area to share facilities during the summer."

Anyone know what that means?

mirmac1 said...

What kills me is my parents were trailblazers in the sixties. They helped form REAL coalitions that truly helped the disadvantaged. They had influence, but not because they could write checks and sit on their fat *sses, but because they demonstrated their commitment to and appreciation of the American dream. If we had stayed in my home country I would certainly be uneducated or dead. Back then, the college-educated from overseas could only raise themselves up from menial labor through union representation. So, this cynical game of playing the disadvantaged card just reeks of opportunism and manipulation. I know that some who think they're doing the right thing, would change their tune if they knew what I now know. Thank you Sahila.

seattle citizen said...

mirmac, you have it exactly right. That both OSC and VSTC "coalitions" are composed almost entirely of minority groups and sprung up overnight from the loins of Strategies 360 (and both have exactly the same content on their webpages) just reeks of opportunism. These are NOT "grass roots," but cynical manipulations.

My parents were part of some real coalitions back in the day, too, and fought for civil rights, labor issues, getting out Vietnam...These were REAL groups concerned with social justice. That many small minority groups are allowing their leaders to make political deals with Strategies 360 makes me sick. As if privatized education is going to help the power, the disenfranchised...Like TFA is going to teach for awhile, without training, to the poorest children, like NWEA will assess them using the barest, basest metrics, like the loss of civics and history and art will make them more competitive workers...

It's freakin' unbelieveable. It so completely opposite social justice...

Oh, and while I'm on a tear, Public: What you think a few "boos" at a board meeting are disrespectful? Really? Have you watched the last five years of board meetings? Have you seen how they WERE, with chaos in the aisles? People toned it down, and the last few years we've seen many, many well-reasoned speakers politely making the case for rational policy. To no avail: The board was NOT in charge of the supt, she was in charge of them. It was like spitting in the wind. Who wouldn't be angry when rationality goes out the window?

Just wait until the district, after laying off thirty teachers next week (along with many other support staff), tries to "hire" 20-25 TFAers, as Ms Kopp promises will happen. THEN you'll see boos, THEN you'll see marching in the streets.

Dora Taylor said...

This is too weird.

I just posted something for Sue because she said that Blogger kept eating her post, it was up and then it disappeared.

Is Blogger sensitive to html? There was a lot in the post.

This is why I switched over to Wordpress, Blogger kind of sucks.

Well, Public, if you want to see the money, we'll post it this week on the Seattle Education blog. It's a lot and it all comes from Gates.

And by the way, who boo's at the school board meetings?

Dora

Peon said...
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Peon said...

Dorothy, I wrote to Dr. Enfield to ask her how students could get credit retrieval now that summer/night school has been cut. I received a very informative email response from Phil Brockman last week. He says that Dr. Enfield is going to require each high school to offer their own, in house, credit retrieval program by this fall. He also said that every high school may not be able to offer every subject and in the case where a students school did not offer the class they needed they could attend another nearby high school that does offer it. I haven't seen anything official on this yet, as I said this was just an email exchange, but I am hopeful.

In the meantime- BYU online offers credit retrieval courses for very reasonable fees. And the Bellevue SD offers summer school classes to any interested SPS student too. And for those who can afford it, there are several private organizations that offer credit retrieval at a very high price tag.

Dorothy Neville said...

Thanks, Peon. Will be interesting to know how schools are going to implement their credit recovery classes, especially when there isn't much money out there.

Doesn't explain Harium's statement about colleges this summer though.

Peon said...

"He says that Dr. Enfield is going to require each high school to offer their own, in house, credit retrieval program by this fall. "

Scratch "require". It is just a proposal, so nothing required as of yet. My mistake.

Public said...

Let's just say that I find all this a bit over-blown. I mean face it, the public and the majority of parents, would like teachers evaluated like everybody else with a job in this country. To say that unions don't have a place in education is not my message. Unions are fine but I think when teachers wearing SEA shirts are shown on the Seattle network yelling at people and booing at school board meetings, it undermines their claim to be true professionals. No I haven't seen all the horrible behavior at school board meetings and maybe that would put things in contaext for me, but I see other unions like the SEU, janitors and home- health aids, being polite, articulate and respectful when I visit Olympia and I wonder, what is going on at the SEA? As far as the unholy alliance in Tacoma, I looked up a few groups and one in particular, the Partnership for Learning, does not seem to be a front for corporate school reformers. I need to do more research and I appreciate the comments. For the record, I like unions, but having been a Teamster and ILWU member I have seen the dark side of them as well as the good. I strongly support public ed but feel there are many problems nationally, at SPS and, yes, with teachers unions. I think many groups are under-served and they all have one thing in common - poverty. It's not about race, it's about money. Do rich people have a louder voice? Of course and it isn't fair. Bill Gates is a government unto himself. He can decide who lives and dies with his medical charities and he can mess up a whole economy with his agricultural philanthropy. And he is accountable to no one. We have an elected board and they need to take control, if not get somebody new.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"This is why I switched over to Wordpress, Blogger kind of sucks."

Thanks for that, Dora.

"He says that Dr. Enfield is going to require each high school to offer their own, in house, credit retrieval program by this fall. He also said that every high school may not be able to offer every subject and in the case where a students school did not offer the class they needed they could attend another nearby high school that does offer it."

Is this at night? Because they can't offer a kid a space at a school just because he/she needs to take one class; that seems weird. And, if it's just one period at a different school, how would the kid get there? Sounds fishy.

StepJ said...

WHITE CENTER'S ROXHILL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL HOLDS AUCTION TO CLOSE CRITICAL BUDGET GAP: Roxhill staff members are organizing a fundraising event in order to close a $190,000 budget gap expected for the 2011-2012 school year. Given the high-poverty rates of Roxhill students, the event is not a traditional PTA-run fundraiser; teachers are working in their spare time to create a fun opportunity for community members to show their support for high quality education for all students.

Roxhill is looking for event underwriters, silent auction donors, and people to attend the event. One hundred percent of all proceeds will go directly to the school. For further information about ways to contribute and join the event, visit the school’s website at www.seattleschools.org/schools/roxhill/ or call the school at (206)252-9570.

Peon said...

Just re-read the email. The proposal is to have credit retrieval classes after school at each SPS high school - not during the school day. And the district would fund the high schools to offer them. Again, just a proposal, as far as I can tell.

Peon said...
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mirmac1 said...

Thank you Public. I appreciate your perspective and am glad you appreciate mine. By every indication I've seen to date, many of these groups are being played. Both you and I want the best we can get for kids in public education. The only difference may be in how we think that can be accomplished. I trust the working folks, the families, and those that actually have to pay taxes to be a better judge than some of the rest.