- School Board challenger, Jack Whelan, also testified about TFA. He said that there are a lot of good reasons to do the wrong thing. He said that deep down, the Board knows this is a solution to a problem we don't have and it is a slap in the face to SPS teachers.
- There were several speakers addressing the Native American program including Sarah Sense-Wilson. She spoke of "cronyism and impropriety" within the administration of the program. She also said Title 7 money was used improperly for a field trip to Tillicum Village. Another speaker also said there were no minutes from meetings and no goals or milestones put forth for this group. This is a good example of the Board NOT listening to parents and community in the face of clear evidence that something is wrong in this program. It has been repeatedly called out for violations by the State Auditor and yet...still problems.
- Two SW parents came forward with their issue about children having to split schools because of the NSAP boundaries in their area. The father said he had gone to the meetings about the boundaries and that Steve had said the plan would honor historical pathways. I don't know enough about those pathways to say if it does but according to this father, they don't. He also said that phone calls about appeals were not being answered. He is a teacher and said if he didn't answer parents' phone calls, he would get reprimanded by the principal.
- Rita Green, Rainier Beach PTSA, thanked the Superintendent for selecting the #1 choice for principal that the community put forth. But she then said she felt there was a flaw in the MAP testing and that a popular math teacher at RBHS had been exited because of them She believes it was based on one administrator's opinion and not evidence. (This might be clearing the way for a TFA recruit to be at RBHS since RBHS was on a list of schools for TFA recruits.)
- Another speaker asked what recourse the Board has when its policies are not followed. That got a snort laugh from Charlie.
- Dorothy Neville had a great idea for issues around MAP. Her idea is for the Board to allow members of the public to organize a Work Session presentation for the Board to explain some of the MAP concerns. She said the presenters would get the info to staff seven days in advance to allow them to respond and there could be a good dialog that might find some common ground and solutions. Given the expertise of people like Dorothy and Meg Diaz (and everyone out there that like to crunch numbers), it's not a bad thought.
- Charlie then stepped up and spoke on the Advanced Learning action item. He said they are voting to approve a grant they haven't even seen AND that the staff knows they will do it. There was no community engagement and, in fact, if they read their own policy, they would see that APP at Ingraham violates it. Again, what recourse does the Board have when the Superintendent violates their policies? How are they a governance Board if not?
- Teacher Robert Murphy got up and was very eloquent about teaching being his third career and how it took a lot of time to get up to speed as a teacher. He said he had overseen several student teachers and that they needed the time in the classroom with a regular teacher before you turn them loose in their own classroom.
- Jonathan Knapp from SEA got up and said that the reason there are conditional certifications for teachers is for exceptional expertise or to fill gaps. He had organized the NEA vote against TFA in districts with no teacher shortages.
Harium let people know that Enrollment is having a school bus going throughout the city to register students starting on July 10th somewhere in the north end. What an odd experiment.
Peter Maier had visited an event at the soon-to-open Viewlands and said it was well-attended.
Kay had a long speech about a number of things. She said they were having a Work Session on August 24th around technology and wanted it to be "visionary." She also spoke about the capacity management issue and that program placement is key. She said that BEX IV is coming up and she said that most of the buildings in her region were old and needed replacement and she hoped her fellow Board members would remember this. She said 50% of the school-aged children in her region go private. She said thank you to Lowell and Garfield for the patience and advocacy and announced that 2.5 FTE would be added to Garfield so that students have a chance of a full schedule from day one. She also mentioned a new taskforce for AL which Charlie and I never heard about so we are interested to find out what this is all about.
Betty, following Kay's lead, also had a long soliloquy about having high hopes for RBHS, MAP scores, "we all make mistakes" - I had no idea what she was really trying to say.
They then went on to the budget. Duggan Harmon showed a chart of how the staffing had gone down at Central (but again, not sure if he meant adm or office). He showed that in the Capital area that they have about $17M in various sources for a contingency reserve. They can't use this for the General Fund but he may have been referring the costs for reopening new buildings. He spoke of "prioritizing work and asking staff to either slow or redirect work."
The budget passed unanimously.
There was a bit of an uncomfortable moment when they were discussing the purchase of MAC computer replacements for 10 schools. Apparently most of the schools are in the north end and Betty wanted to know why. Kay explained that many years back, several PTAs funded their computer labs and those were mostly in the north end. Under this new purchase, schools can buy either workstations or laptops. It was uncomfortable because, of course, this buying of computers is not something a lot of schools could have afforded in the past. Also, why replace the Macs with Macs? If the other schools are working off PCs, should the district stick with one type?
They also approved, in one fell swoop, the previously mentioned $1M Wallace Foundation grant for the arts. Here's a link to their report on what they are doing in other cities. Charlie and I both greatly dislike non-emergency measures that are intro'ed and voted on at one meeting. This is happening more and more and again, staff expects it will work every time (and they are right). The reasoning this time is that they would lose 6 weeks of planning.
I do want to correct something I said previously about this grant. They have to hire at least 3 new people for it but the funds DO come from the grant itself. (I had thought they couldn't use the grant funds for hiring.)
I have a few doubts about this grant as it is only for planning. I did attempt to call the Wallace Foundation to ask about if there would be a possibility that after all the planning, the next grant wouldn't come thru (SPS would have to apply for the implementation grant). Unfortunately, I was told to look through their website and then write them a letter. That I don't have time for so I can't say how solid it is that SPS will move on to implementation for this grant in our schools.
So then we came to TFA. It was only an Intro item and is one in a series of events that has to happen for TFA to come to Seattle. Holly Ferguson stressed that no TFA recruits have been recommended for hire. She said the August 17th date is important because the recruits will need to get a certificate thru OSPI by then. If any are recommended by then, their names and schools will be printed in the next Board agenda to be approved. If not, then this action is moot and they will then need another Board motion. Then the Board asked questions.
Kay asked if the district had any control over the price break TFA is getting from UW. Holly said no. Kay said so if the district has no control over the price, then the only thing the Board can do is express concern to UW. Sherry Carr jumped in and said we could send a letter from the Board that "we don't value that practice."
Yes, I was quite surprised. I assume they were referring my work on the UW proposal.
Holly seemed a bit taken aback but said, yes, the Board could write such a letter to UW and TFA.
Steve said they needed to "research" this idea. Betty chimed in if UW was raising tuition for in-state students that it seemed unfair to give discounts to others.
(As an aside, I have heard from UW President Phyllis Wise who said that the TFA program will be "administered" through their Educational Outreach program and there is no tuition, just program fees. I called a Vice-Provost about this and he is making the same claim. When I pointed out that the agreement, the legal agreement between UW and TFA, calls it tuition, he said he hadn't seen the agreement. Oh. So I looked at the UWEO website and TFA isn't mentioned as a program available there at all. It isn't referenced in the agreement. UW didn't mention it in their presentation yesterday at the PESB meeting. And the UWEO department clearly references tuition.
I believe UW is trying to shake me off and make it look like I really don't know what I'm talking about. I can only say if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, I'm calling it tuition and I do believe TFA is getting a break on it. Dean Stritikus himself said he was going to talk to President Wise about "tuition flexibility.")
Steve veered off into the timing, that the district was just entering Phase III hiring. Peter asked Holly a curious question about whether she could come back with "characteristics" of the TFA recruits like age, field of expertise, ethnic background, etc. Holly said probably (but not their ages). Peter said the contract asks for this information before renewal.
Then Betty asked another classic Betty-blunt question: she asked why are we targeting low-income minority schools for 5-week teachers? She said she wanted "qualified" teachers in those classrooms.
Susan Enfield addressed that, saying that TFA has a clear mission to teach in high-needs schools. She also said the TFA recruits could go to any building in the district. (Really? I want to see one of them in Montlake. Or Roosevelt. Or Laurelhurst. Please.) She also said TFA recruits having on-going support from TFA. (This is true and I'll address this in my PESB thread).
I sense some worry over this decision. I'd be worried, too, if I were a Board member.