I am nearly on my way out the door to go to Tumwater (!) to testify against the UW proposal for Teach for America so this thread may come in two parts.
What helped considerably was a shortened meeting - no academic, operational or financial updates.
- It was brought up several times that information was not in the Action reports to the Board about various issues. How the Board stands by and allows that to happen is a mystery. For example, there was a vote on computers for 10 schools and the schools weren't listed nor did staff come prepared with the list. There were two of them standing at the podium, ready to answer Board questions on this action and yet...they couldn't name the schools.
- Teacher Robert Femiano apparently had nothing better to do than read the entire 300+ page budget book and called out a few items. He questioned money listed for instruction materials ($1.7M) and math supplies (.5M) and yet the district said it isn't buying textbooks. He wondered aloud what the money would be spent on in the classroom. He also asked the Board to reject the TFA proposal (it was introduced, not voted on) because of a study out of Boulder that showed large recurring costs using TFA.
- SEA President Olga Addae, fresh off the plane from the Chicago convention for the NEA, let the Board know that their delegation had put forth (and it passed) a resolution against districts allowing TFA in if their district had no teacher shortages. She said that states that have TFA spoke eloquently to the issues and problems around having TFA recruits in their classrooms. She said the silent cost to Seattle would be in the STAR mentoring program which all first-year teachers receive. She said that TFA recruits have so little training and experience that they will need even more attention and hand-holding. She said it would be sad to spend the money mentoring them and then have the majority of them not end up being teachers.
- Dan Dempsey pointed out another obvious issue with the TFA action report. He stated that the October 2010 Action report said that they could go with TFA "after careful review of other options." No review was included in last night's action report.
To be continued...