Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Open Thread

From this week we see that Dr. Enfield, at least in the case of TFA, wasn't open to listening to parent/community input at all.  That she would mock/laugh with a TFA rep at input from those in opposition to TFA is quite disturbing.  I'll be interested to see if she ever addresses this issue with me or anyone else. 

We also have yet another wealthy person who wants to make over public education in the form of hey! he's from Microsoft, Scott Oki.   As former School Board director, Steve Brown, once said to me, "Why is it that wealthy people always want to start new things and not help fix our existing schools?" 

Next week is the last full week of summer for our kids.  I'm sure it's a melancholy time for some of you and others can't wait. 

As a reminder, Kay Smith-Blum is having her community meeting tomorrow from 10-11:30 am at the Douglass-Truth library.  Her agenda has a large number of items and Executive Director Nancy Coogan will also be on hand to answer questions and take input. 

Also, the Families and Education levy will be shooting its commercial this Sunday from noon to 1 p.m. at Garfield High School.  All kids from 8-18 are welcome to participate.  Info at FamiliesAndEd@gmail.com

 

159 comments:

Meg said...

I'm curious to know about school staffing, especially at schools that appear to be on track for higher than projected enrollment.

Has the staffing for additional staff been done/not done? Is the principal still waiting to hear what will be approved?

I have mentioned it before, but I have some serious concerns that underprojecting is a work-around for the WSS. Initial projections for schools have to conform to the WSS, but the filling in done after projections does not have to strictly conform to the WSS. I think underprojecting is very quiet way to shave a couple of million dollars out of the WSS without public discussion of the matter (not that SPS administration would try to skip public engagement on issues that directly affect students).

A couple of directors have been saying that the district was being "fiscally conservative." But think for a moment - the conservative action, when one expects enrollment growth, is to predict stability. This allows faculties to remain intact while keeping expenses stable until firm numbers come in.

But, I could be wrong. Maybe the staffing up at most levels has already happened, so that school will start and faculties will be in place. I've heard some rumors to the contrary at the high school level (and it's hard not to appreciate the irony - an elementary attendance policy to crack down on excused absences has been approved to keep kids from losing instructional time while many HS kids lose much of their September to simply not having enough instructors in the building).

So what have people heard about staffing at schools?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Meg, yes I think the staffing is done for now. But do I think that one the first day of school there will be at least 5 (or more) schools understaffed? I do.

As I said, CFO Bob Boesche said at a budget work session that he didn't want principals to overstaff. I read that as holding back as to not have too much staff (and it works out well for TFA as well).

Kathy said...

"Initial projections for schools have to conform to the WSS, but the filling in done after projections does not have to strictly conform to the WSS"

Meg,

Please explain the above statement.

Spruiter said...

Have NCLB AYP opt out letters gone out? Do we have a list of which schools didn't make AYP, and what schools those families have been given as options?

seattle citizen said...

Tuesday, August 30th (the day before the employee furlough) at Seattle Center Fisher Pavillion at 4:00 PM:

"Back to School 2011: Seattle Public Schools -
Launch of AGREE campaign to strengthen education in our city."
(Seattle Center announcement and map)

"Join Dr. Susan Enfield, Interim Superintendent, Mayor Mike McGinn and School Board members
Come hear from your school district about what’s new this year and ask questions about transportation, enrollment and nutrition services...
...and be ready for a few surprises!"
(District announcement)

AGREE campaign:
"While these priorities [see below] serve as our framework for the year, we have also adopted a motto to remind ourselves of what we must achieve: AGREE: Attacking Gaps/Raising Expectations Everywhere. It is time for us to work together and attack our gaps. While doing this, we must also raise the quality of instruction for all students, including those who need additional academic challenges. Finally, we must raise expectations for ourselves as the adults in this community and do all we can to model for our young people what it means to be thoughtful, productive citizens who take pride in their community and its commitment to public education." (Superintendent's Priorities for 2011-2012)

The link above, to the details of the Superintendent's Priorities, which are:
• Great principals highly skilled as instructional leaders.
• Great teachers highly skilled in meeting the needs of ALL students.
• Families and community partners connected to our schools.
• Central office staff serving and supporting schools and families.

mirmac1 said...

Sounds like a Lesley Rogers' PR promotion. "Let's pretend we're going to do something we said we'd be doing, oh, four years ago!"

Eric M said...

I remind all that purposely understaffing (or overenrolling, same difference) a school creates an "emergency hiring need" for a school, and can therefore be a TfA foot-in-the-door.

Many of us saw this coming last spring.

Now, here it is.

Based on the emails we've read, is there any doubt that the power-sthat-be would stoop that low to get their way?

Rufus X said...

Just under 2 weeks until the start of school and, despite the "just wait and see at the end of summer, things will likely shift" attempts at comfort by Dr. Libros, my incoming 6th gr. twins (Thing 1 and Thing 2) are still enrolled at different schools. Thing 1 (APP) is 2 of 2 on the wait list of our 1st choice school; Thing 2 (Spectrum) is now enrolled at that 1st choice school. The Spectrum wait list moved mere days after assignment letters were sent (because it sounds like there was an initial miscalculation - more seats were available than were filled). I've begged, I've pleaded, I've attempted to appeal to common sense. It was hinted that our last resort (transfer appeal) would be rejected because enrollment would label it "for the parents' convenience".

We filled out the forms, we played the district's open enrollment games, and Dr Libros assured me that, given the outcome we were shooting for (1st choice school for both in different academic programs), we did everything we were supposed to do. Yet here we are with twins who've spent 24 hrs away from each other only once in their lives (the day they were born) and they're on the verge of spending the school year - the one that many middle school counselors will say is the most steeply transitional school year of a child's life - at different schools.

Over 6000 open enrollment applications were submitted. According to the most recent wait list by school report, 3002 of those students were not placed. I don't know what can be extrapolated from that data (glass half full, glass half empty), but I have found that the process seems to have no room for common flippin' sense.

rugles said...

Just curious, is computer programming taught in the Seattle School District? If yes, is it a course by itself, or part of math or science class?

Also, when are kids taught keyboarding skills? When I was in school a long long time ago, we had typing class as freshmen in high school.

ben said...

Re:Staffing levels.
We've found out that our kindergartener at Jane Addams is going to be in a class of size 31 and they didn't add the 3rd teacher.
Ben

Anonymous said...

Ben, most schools have rosters that are larger than the class winds up being. Lots of people don't show, move, go private, etc. So, when the dust settles, there will be less than 31. That is what the district counts on. My kid's first grade class roster had 32. 30 showed up. The district placed an aide in the class. The day one kid moved away in the middle of the year (making the count 29) the aide was also gone, pronto.

-another parent

StepJ said...

On the lighter side, a kid related laugh...with credit to myGreenlake.

Huge Ball Pit to be installed in Green Lake neighborhood

Bus Stop said...

There is a link on the SPS homepage that says "where is my student's bus stop?" I've clicked on the link and found lots of transportation information, but I have not been able to find anything that would provide the location of my student's stop. Can someone help me out?

Class Size said...

ben-

I can't imagine the district doing classes of 20 students if they added a third teacher. You'll probably end up with 28 or 29 in the class I bet.

Patrick said...

31 is big for a kindergarten class, but unfortunately it's common in the NE cluster.

They wouldn't make three classes of 20 each. They'd be more likely to make a K-1 class, if the 1st grade rooms are on the full side too.

Charlie Mas said...

Kathy asked: "Initial projections for schools have to conform to the WSS, but the filling in done after projections does not have to strictly conform to the WSS.

Meg,

Please explain the above statement.
"

The WSS (Weighted Staffing Standards) calls for an additional 1.0 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) PCP teachers (Art, music, P.E., etc.) for every 5 classroom teachers at a school. If a school needs to add two teachers after the first day of school, they aren't likely to also get funding for the 0.4 PCP teacher that they will also need.

Also, if the actual enrollment pushes a school into a higher tier for WSS, one that would entitle the school to an additional assistant principal, for example, the school migh not be funded for that additional staff either.

Charlie Mas said...

The AGREE public relations effort says that the district needs to "raise the quality of instruction for all students, including those who need additional academic challenges."

This extends the mistaken belief that the obstacle to student academic achievement is poor quality of instruction - teachers doing a crappy job. There is no reason to believe that quality of instruction is our problem.

Charlie Mas said...

rugles asked: "Just curious, is computer programming taught in the Seattle School District? If yes, is it a course by itself, or part of math or science class?

Also, when are kids taught keyboarding skills? When I was in school a long long time ago, we had typing class as freshmen in high school.
"

My daughter took a web design class as an elective last year. It was not a science or math class. I don't know if there is anyone in the district teaching actual coding (in C++ or VB or whatever languages are still in use beyond HTML or XML).

Dorothy Neville said...

Issues involved with over/under staffing and the coming school year.

First. It appears that we will finish this fiscal year (ends 8/31) in the black by about 2 million dollars more than hoped for. That's good news in that we are expecting more cuts from the state. It's not so good in that it was this year's money to spend on this year's kids and those kids did not benefit from it. (where is it from? Is this possibly matched up to Meg's hunch that they play with WSS and save a couple million dollars that way?)

Bob Boesche was adamant in that we cannot allow for the possibility of overstaffing, even if that means beginning the year with qualified substitutes. We very likely cannot fully staff until after the October 1 count. In the past, there was a hold-harmless fund for when projections allowed for staff who were contracted on but the enrollment did not bear that out. Now that mitigation fund is depleted.

Duggan Harmon's quick look says that if enrollment comes in at bottom of projected levels, we may have 15 overstaffed positions (note, I am not sure if this is teachers or administration, such as assistant principals or extra PCP. I have an email out to clarify this.) If enrollment comes in at the top of projections, then we will be OK and additionally we will need perhaps 5 FTE in Special Ed and ELL.

But we should expect no core staffing additions until October.

Dorothy Neville said...

To add to what I just wrote, this discussion was from yesterday Finance committee meeting.

I am suspicious of understaffing as well. Duggan noted that we might need 5 Special Ed or ELL FTE, but nothing was said about situations that a number of us suspect, that many more teachers will need to be hired due to more students showing up.

Waiting until October count will solve some of that, as some families will get disgusted with the chaos and leave. Or maybe some high school kids will simply drop out. Now that will save some money, for sure!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Rugles, the kids start doing some keyboarding in elementary but to the best of my (recent) knowledge, they get keyboarding training in middle school. Anyone else?

As far as computer programming, I believe some high schools offer it as a stand-alone class. You'd have to check with the high schools as to who is offering it this year.

Bus Stop - SPS strikes again. I went through the same process as you (clicking the "where's my student's bus stop" link) and then I looked all around. Then I called.

You can only get that information from the letter they are sending home that should come this week or next. If you don't get that letter by Thursday, September 1, I'd call and ask for them to tell you over the phone.

No, I don't know why they would put "where's my bus stop" on the SPS home page and then not provide the information.

Bus Stop said...

I called and got the stop times and location.

Curious said...

I read the emails and I am not finding where Charlie or Mel were laughed at or mocked. I was curious to see that after Charlie mentioned Dr. E making fun of a word he used. I did see back and forth chatter between Dr. E and Ortega that had "LOL" but that appeared to be a response to a comment made by the other about hazzard pay, not anything Charlie had written. I also saw a reference to this blog and something to the effect of the "usually suspects"/"Melissa and co," which I didn't find particularly offensive given that Charlie, Melissa, Joan, Sahlia ect post here and generally oppose the same times of things. In the volume of emails, have I missed something? If Dr. E or another district staff member did mock or otherwise insult folks, I would love to have that quoted for future use.

Anonymous said...

reg: programming classes, roosevelt has an Web design HTML. Nathan hale has Web design 1 & 2, c++ gaming design (something about robots), and 4 Cisco Networking Classes. All SPS High Schools have their own websites with their course catalogs.

jpr

Anonymous said...

ben -

Our daughter is also in a K class of 31 at Jane Addams - we called the school today and they said there is still some space in the K-1 class. I suspect they will recommend to move some kids there after the 1-1 evaluations the first week. Between that and no-shows, etc. I'm hopeful the class size will be more reasonable.

Anonymous said...

This AGREE that rhymes with GLEE acronym is the latest lame attempt to clean up the mess that Susan Enfield herself helped significantly worsen during her tenure as Chief ACADEMIC Officer.

The achievement gap widened during her time as CAO, resulting from the math series Enfield championed, along with the fact that she put no systemic programs in place to help students catch up to their grade-level performing peers.

Instead, as these emails indicate,
she put an inordinate amount of time and energy (during her highly paid salary time) to champion the TFA program, which all research indicates is the opposite of what at-risk students need to make significant academic gains, namely AN EXPERIENCED AND HIGHLY SKILLED TEACHER.

These emails indicate that she was following a highly political and personal agenda. In the meantime,
scores of Seattle students were put on the fast track of underemployment and jail.

First, she had the gall to fire Martin Floe and blame it on the achievement gap that she was in large part responsible for ballooning. Now, we get this Larry Tate/Darrin Stevens insult of a jingo--AGREE--
on the heels of hiring two brand new TfA teachers at Aki Kurose, a school with many academically vulnerable students. This hypocrisy
will cost her the job of permanent
superintendent.

--Have you no shame, Susan Enfield?

Jan said...

Rugles: my child took a web design class at GHS, and last year at least there was an AP Computer Programming class -- and I think there was at least one other. The Garfield course catalog on its website will have more information (either current, if the new one is up, or last year's).

Maureen said...

Roosevelt offered Computer Science and Web Design last year and has AP Computer Science (uses Java) and two Web Design classes in the Course description book for this year. RHS kids can get keyboarding in a Business Computer Applications class. My kids had a bit of it in 3rd grade at their K-8, but basically have learned by doing.

I wonder what Queen Anne Elementary is offering in terms of computer skills since they are suppoed to be a tech themed Option School?

Steveroo said...

Rugles,

Garfield CS

Roosevelt CS

Hale has an AP computer science course.

Ingraham offers IB Computer Science and the IB exams for those courses in 11th and 12 grades.

Sealth IB offers IB Computer Science in 11th and 12th grades.

Cleveland STEM must offer something CS-ish, but I can't find a course list. The link under What Courses Will Be Offered at STEM gives a Not Found error. Maybe someone can explain what they're teaching. But if they're teaching real computer science, I'll buy you a donut.

Franklin, Rainier Beach, West Seattle, Center, Ballard and Nova don't seem to offer offer CS courses in their current course catalogs online.

(Note: the above are billed as actual CS courses. I haven't included the classes in game design programmming, or how to do arty things in Python, or programming toy robots to twirl around. YMMV.)

RosieReader said...

Rugles-- check out Ingraham too. It has the "Academy of Information Technology.".

Melissa Westbrook said...

Curious, LOL means laugh out loud. Enfield talks about "share the experience", then Ortega says "LOL." They are laughing at the anti-TFA responses they are getting including Charlie's.

I think using words like "crazy" and "insane" about the people in the community that Ms. Ortega is dealing with is mocking them.

Then when the group of parents asks about the research, Ortega says she's trying to figure out how to "not elicit" anymore. I take that to mean any more input from people who don't agree with her and Enfield.

Susan says this in reference to my interest in TFA "never a dull moment,eh." I consider that mocking.

I didn't say calling us "the usual suspects" was mocking; I just reported it as what was said about the blog.

Call it what you will - I found it disrespectful and unprofessional behavior on the part of Dr. Enfield. At the very least, her attitude suggests that when she has made up her mind, no public input is needed or wanted.

Curious said...

Okay, so it is Ortega who is mocking and laughing? Would love a clear statement that can be attributed to Dr. E.

What struck me more from the emails is that the TFA connection for Dr. E isn't Hurrican Viciki, it is her little chosen protege, Aurora Lora, i.e. "Ms. Lora's Story." Sorry, but I have met Ms. Lora, and think she needs better judgment. An Exec Director shouldn't be out drinking with her subordinates. Esp. to the point where an AP (who is suddenly a principal over the wishes of the community) has to drive her home.

Anonymous said...

I agree Melissa. Although we call her "Dr" Enfield, she would apologize to her buddy Janis for our comments and questions. They deserve each other. Both, seem to me, striving narcissists who need BIG glasses of wine to have to deal with us...

sign me "looking forward to January"

Anonymous said...

I've met Dr. Cliff Mass a few times, and I've met many other scientists like him with real Doctorates over the years - funny how they don't get all steamed about being called "Doctor", even though they have actual real Doctorates.

It is a lot of work to earn a "Doctorate" in education. It is a lot of work to carry bricks on your head - that doesn't mean the work is useful.

Signed - What great ones do the less will prattle of

rugles said...

Thanks for the responses.I just finished reading a book called Program or be Programed by Douglas Rushkoff, which, as the title suggests, extols the virtues of learning programing (not so much webpage design) which caused me to wonder whether we teach it here.

Anonymous said...

Spruiter,

We are at SouthShore, and our AYP letter gave us an option of Viewlands or Concord.

SouthShore parent

StepJ said...

Wow - a choice of Viewlands or Concord.

That seems super funky. In past years the policy was to offer a school within the same middle school service area - so for South Shore a school within the Aki Service Area.

There have been some other errors this year with the conversion to the new computer system. If you want to move, it would be worth a double check to be certain these are your only actual options.

If Viewlands (a school just opening this year) and Concord are the only two AYP choices, that tells a sad tale. It would say every other Attendance Area school in the district meeting AYP is super stuffed to the gills. And likewise the only Option School in the District with extra space is Concord?

If you do want to switch I know some super dedicated and involved parents at Concord -- normally, translates to great school.

Melissa Westbrook said...

South Shore didn't meet AYP? I wouldn't have thought that from the New School website.

Good luck with whatever decision you make.

Anonymous said...

If AYP letters are out, it should mean that the MSP/HSPE results are out as well. OSPI hasn't published them. Has anyone heard about them?

-reader

Anonymous said...

PS. South Shore did not make AYP last year. If it failed this year, that means it's in step 1 of "needs improvement".

If other schools need to pony up room, then that is what the district should be made to do. Not ship people off to Viewlands, just because it is a new school with no track record.

-reader

Anonymous said...

Someone offer some clarity here.

The district continues to lay off Maintenance staff which means they will be woefully understaffed and doing much more work with less.
Yet administration has hired 73 more staff, given around 108 admin staff raises, and has 11 million more this year for the budget than last year. They keep saying "They don't have the budget". Someone help me understand this

Max Headroom

Anonymous said...

From OSPI:

State Superintendent Randy Dorn will release spring 2011 state testing results at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 30, at the John A. Cherberg Senate Office Building in Olympia.

FYI

Spruiter said...

Ben and others in K at Jane Addams - both Kindergarten and first grade are too large for the 5 classes combined (2 K, 2 first, and a K-1 Split). The same thing happened to us last year, and we did get an additional teacher added, which brought us down to very nice class sizes. It is a drag that the district won't add another class yet, but on the plus side, we at least have the physical space to accommodate another class. We're in 1st grade, and want to see another class added too. I'm confident that it will happen - if not by the start of school, within a week or so.

Anonymous said...

reader at 9:04
i heard in the most unofficial grapevine that the sps kids hspe results are floating around and have to wait to what-me-worry dorn's official release announcement thing. data driven decision making with the most last minute data possible!

wv says odeigo

RosieReader said...

Hmmmmmmm. @4:47 tells us that a PhD in education is not a real doctorate, like , you know, one in the sciences. So, does that mean an undergraduate degree in education, or a masters, are similarly not credible? And whatndoes that say about the state of teacher education?

Anonymous said...

I was sitting in my principal's office yesterday when he received word that a hiring freeze was going into effect at 4 pm.

I don't know what the details, exceptions, and duration are. But for now, apparently, our staffing levels are set.

DWE

Steveroo said...

Here's an idea for the College of Education at UW:

Everyone who is to become a teacher through the CoE should be strongly encouraged to major in a field other than Education, and would earn an additional degree in Education but with most of the time and coursework spent on the subject area major.

Spending the bulk of one's time in the CoE, as it is, does lead reasonable people to give its graduates less credibility as well educated people.

In my limited experience talking with teachers, there are many nice people who've unnecessarily turned out to be fuzzier generalists than they should have been. And that equates to some of those people (not everyone, of course) being less competent at conveying ideas in the subject matter every day in their classrooms than they should be when teaching science, math, history and other subjects.

Dorothy Neville said...

DWE, yup, absolutely. If finance department has there way, there will be no core staff hiring until October. They absolutely positively feel it is important to be fiscally conservative and not spend any extra money until the October 1 count.

There is probably going to be a special session and they are expecting mid-year cuts. Where? Duggan suggested that they might retroactively take back the early adopter incentive for changing teacher performance measures.

Anonymous said...

RE: AYP at SoutShore

I did call the district to plead our case. I also asked about the relevancy of already being on the wait list at our neighborhood option school for two years in a row...no budging, a closed door.

SouthShore parent

Anonymous said...

Dorothy at 8:52

i skim this blot a lot, and i don't think there is a concrete answer to my hope,

and i hope the enforcers of inquiry crap math, aka math 'coaches', have been flushed.

wv says shiloi

Dorothy Neville said...

Speaking of incentives, the legislature is most likely going to push with incentivizing districts to increase attendance by paying for students based on average daily attendance, instead of the monthly enrollment figures currently used.

OSPI is working on a definition of unexcused absence right now.

Melissa Westbrook said...

That's right, Dorothy, and DeBell has repeatedly brought this up as a concern.

Charlie Mas said...

If you accept the AYP opt-out, the District has to provide transportation.

For elementary students, transportation is yellow bus transportation - they don't issue them ORCA cards and call it good like they do for middle and high school students.

Am I to understand that the District will be paying to bus students from southeast Seattle (home to South Shore and a number of other elementary schools that failed to make AYP) to Viewlands (north of Ballard) or to Concord (in West Seattle)?

How is that - in any way - economical?

It seems to me that the District may have intentionally chosen schools that families are unlikely to select - specifically to discourage them from opting out of schools in AYP sanctions.

Or could it be that these are the only elementary schools that made AYP and have space available?

When the enrollment/capacity management report comes out, some part of it must show the space available - if any - in every school. At that time, that space is up for grabs on a first come-first served basis.

So if you see that report and you see that there is a seat available for your child in a school that you prefer over your child's assigned school, you are free to request that seat and the district is supposed to change your child's assignment. It stands to reason that the District can legitimately reserve some of the seats in these schools for any students who might move into the neighborhood during the school year, but they should be transparent about how many seats they reserve for that and how they arrived at that number.

dan dempsey said...

Closing the Door on Innovation: Why One National Curriculum is Bad for America.

A Critical Response to the Shanker Institute Manifesto
and the U.S. Department of Education’s Initiative
to Develop a National Curriculum and National Assessments Based on National Standards


We, the undersigned, representing viewpoints from across the political and educational spectrum, oppose the call for a nationalized curriculum in the Albert Shanker Institute Manifesto “A Call for Common Content.”1 We also oppose the ongoing effort by the U.S. Department of Education to have two federally funded testing consortia develop national curriculum guidelines, national curriculum models, national instructional materials, and national assessments using Common Core's national standards as a basis for these efforts.2


We agree that our expectations should be high and similar for all children whether they live in Mississippi or Massachusetts, Tennessee or Texas. We also think that curricula should be designed before assessments are developed, not the other way around.


But we do not agree that a one-size-fits-all, centrally controlled curriculum for every K-12 subject makes sense for this country or for any other sizable country. Such an approach threatens to close the door on educational innovation, freezing in place an unacceptable status quo and hindering efforts to develop academically rigorous curricula, assessments, and standards that meet the challenges that lie ahead. Because we are deeply committed to improving this country’s schools and increasing all students’ academic achievement, we cannot support this effort to undermine control of public school curriculum and instruction at the local and state level—the historic locus for effective innovation and reform in education—and transfer control to an elephantine, inside-the-Beltway bureaucracy.

Anonymous said...

Let me emphasize that the budget freeze came without warning on Friday. Any building that was in the process of hiring for an open position had until 4 pm to get a candidate hired.

Last night, when I shared this situation with a Board director from another Seattle-area district, he could hardly believe how crazy things are in Seattle.

DWE

Anonymous said...

Surely, for example, Lowell has plenty of room and it made AYP last year. So, students from SouthShore should be able to attend Lowell with transportatin on an NCLB escape. They may be short on teachers, but that is something that can be fixed. I also call BS on the 2 lame choices offered. Clearly the district is trying to thwart the intention of the act by giving people unreasonable choices when plenty of reasonable ones are available. On the other hand, I don't understand why people who have elected to go to SouthShore have a problem with its AYP status.


-reader

Dorothy Neville said...

DWE,so are you saying that if a school was budgeted for a teacher and that position has been in the process of HR and interviews and all of that, something very clearly and obviously needed based on SPS generated enrollment figures, then that position was frozen?

I think this might have been tacitly approved by the Audit and Finance committee meeting on Thursday, but that is somewhat reading between the lines. I thought what Bob Boesche meant was that any unexpected enrollment increases would not result in a permanent hire until after October First. I think that's what the board members in attendance thought that to mean.

There was a brief mention of the hiring freeze which is slated to end at the end of the FY (8/31) and of which BB said it could be extended, but that really should not extend to positions that are known to be needed in core school staffing, I would have thought.

Anonymous said...

Steveroo,

I'd like to clear up a misconception you have of certification at UW. Nobody majors in education. The certification is after the BA/BS. For example, I finished my biology degree, then got my teaching certificate, along with additional coursework for the broad science endorsement. And yes, there are many more lucrative directions I could have gone with a science degree and high GPA, but I wanted to be a teacher.

Sidney D

Anonymous said...

"DWE, so are you saying that if a school was budgeted for a teacher and that position has been in the process of HR and interviews and all of that, something very clearly and obviously needed based on SPS generated enrollment figures, then that position was frozen?"

Yes, that is what I'm saying.

I'm basing this on direct information from my principal, as he read portions of the email out loud to me. I am a hiring team coordinator at my building, so this directly concerned me.

Will unfilled positions, now frozen, be taught by substitutes? That is what I was led to believe.

Given the unpredictability of the district, I don't know what will happen next.

DWE

Syd said...

According to the letter sent to me about our second child's elementary school not making AYP, Lowell also did not make AYP.

And yeah - I am not sending my kid from SE Seattle to North of Ballard for elementary school. Concord and Viewlands were the only choices given. However, I do believe that there may not be other choices, cuz lot's of the schools around me are either not making AYP or are stuffed to the gills.

Dorothy Neville said...

DWE, what lunacy! That is not the way it was presented on Thursday. I wonder if DeBell, Maier and Patu understood it that way?

Steveroo said...

Sidney D,

OK, you can laugh at me now. I did have that misconception. Obviously I've never been a teacher and hadn't looked into the requirements to become one.

Looking back through the comments, I see that my reaction was in response to zb's statement in the Scott Oki thread:

"I think there should be a means for those with subject expertise to move into teaching without the barriers I see as sometimes being driven as a means of restricting entry (rather than gaining skills). I don't pretend to have answers about exactly how to teach those skills, and I wholeheartedly believe that here are significant skills to teaching beyond subject expertise, but I question whether the standard teaching degrees should be the only route. I also think that methods of attracting students who may only think of teaching as an option after they graduate from college is a good thing."

What has impressed me is the widespread lack of understanding of science among the elementary school teachers (of all ages, from new to nearing retirement) I've met over the past few years.

Isn't a science degree unusual among teachers? I'm guessing that the teacher corps must be heavily skewed away from the hard sciences, not to mention anything else that involves a lot of math.

Sahila said...

Game On.... national campaign to Opt Out of high stakes standardised testing launched...

UnitedOptOut First Action

Sahila said...

@Stveroo.... in New Zealand and Australia, teachers for elementary school go to university for a degree in teaching... they spend three years learning the academics and on several 6-weekly internships in each of those years... I dont believe they come to teaching with a major in any subject they will be teaching...

High scholol teachers though, do have a degree in their major teaching area, PLUS a full year teacher training...

Anonymous said...

Dorothy,

Yes, it is lunacy. It just confirms what I've been saying: the process is neither rational nor transparent.

And I will keep saying this: Sundquist, Maier and DeBell have dismissed concerns about this process, in all cases looking with unexamined trust to staff.

DWE

Steveroo said...

Here's something interesting on the King County home page. It's the first link under News at the moment. Look for "Groundbreaking for White Center education hub."

Local leaders break ground on 21st Century education hub in White Center

It's about the Tech Access Foundation, which apparently had something to do with Rainier Beach a few years ago.
Technology Access Foundation

"The new building will be key to TAF’s goal of providing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education to 20,000 public school students of color each year by 2020.

"King County has provided TAF with a $2 million grant through the County’s Community Partnership Grant Program. The County is also providing TAF with a 50-year lease on land where the CLS will be built at Lakewood Park.

"CLS will serve many constituencies through the day. Students from the neighboring Cascade Middle School will use its four technology learning labs during school hours. After school, CLS will serve more than 1,000 students from the White Center area as participants in TAF’s TechStart program.

"During the day, teachers will also use the space for training on the latest methods for incorporating technology into daily instruction."

Maureen said...

Southshore Parent, did you happen to ask why they aren't offering Rainier View as an option? It (like Viewlands) is just (re)opening this year, so will count as making AYP. And it is in the same Middle School attendance area as South Shore.

WV thinks this is imencely weird. (I've noticed that WV is not the best speller in the world.)

dan dempsey said...

My posting above has a bit to do with current staffing levels in WA State.

The adoption of the Common Core Standards is largely an unfunded mandate that will be born by school districts. The Districts will pay $165 million over 5-years..... this is equivalent to salaries for 330+ teachers per year for 5 years.

OSPI and the SPS and the UW have clearly shown they have no idea what effective instructional practices or suitable instructional materials are.

So now the plan is massive expensive testing for all students.... Get used to the continuing debacle of larger class sizes and a continuation of mis-direction from the top.

SP said...

to Reader,
Release of some test scores has been complicated by the fact that the State Board of Ed voted on Aug. 9th to actually LOWER the passing score bar for some tests (see below). Compounding the problem, for high schoolers, this means that their math schedules cannot be finalized yet until there is confirmation that their end-of-course exam for algebra or geometry has been passed.

From the SBE minutes:
The Board reviewed and approved the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s recommended cut scores for the End of Course mathematics exams (algebra 1/Integrated 1 and geometry/Integrated 2) and the Measurements of Student Progress in 5th and 8th grade science. Note: those scores will be released to the public on August 31 via the OSPI website once OSPI has certified the data.

Kathy said...

"There is probably going to be a special session and they are expecting mid-year cuts."

While the district's funding gap was $45M, actual state cuts to the district amounted to $14M

Let's remember we passed a $45M Supplemental Levy last year. We could have had enough dollars to cover the state cut, but our board signed onto a half baked Performance Management Plan and Strategic Initiatives...Now, the Performance Management has been cut back.

THIS board knew we were in the midst of historic state cuts to education, but signed onto new expenditures. Now, they are afraid to staff our schools.

Not providing students with classroom stability until Oct. 1 is irresponsible.

Let's vote these folks out.

Anonymous said...

Hiring freeze? On open classroom positions? This is extremely fishy and detrimental.

Confusion and chaos make school-based hiring rules easier to bend without immediate detection. Looks like they'll be placing people from downtown.

--here come the TfAs

Anonymous said...

As far as I know, our school still has not finalized one of the core teaching positions - am I interpreting the posts correctly in that the class could start with a sub, even though they are currently interviewing candidates??

Guess we'll find out at the open house..

-trying to stay calm

StepJ said...

Is the Principal able to select the Substitute?

If the Principal continued with the interview process and found their favorite candidate - could the Substitute position be offered to that candidate with the intent of offering the for hire position in October?

dan dempsey said...

State Math EoC scores for Algebra and Geometry will be announced on Tuesday by OSPI.

The word I have is that about 60% OF TEST Takers passed the Algebra EoC and about 74% of students passed Geometry EoC.

I have no idea what percentage of the total points possible were needed to pass either of these two EoCs.

The Geometry test had a small amount of Geometry that was actually tested as OSPI decided that since districts that use an integrated approach did not teach a lot of Geometry until year three.... OSPI would only test the Geometry it was likely those students would have covered in their first two years.

Thus the Geometry EoC was really Geometry Lite.

We shall see if I heard correctly come Tuesday's release from OSPI.

dan dempsey said...

If the district did understaff and then hires a lot of TfA teachers, is it time for another TfA lawsuit on behalf of those students being deprived of the opportunity to get a fully trained and experienced teacher like students in other schools get?

If this situation actually occurs in regard to TfA, will the four directors running for re-election have a good answer to spin their ways out of this one?

StopTFA said...

Certainly we can pursue a TFA lawsuit. In federal court. Frankly, I would pursue a preliminary injunction but be prepared to put up a bond. For a preliminary injunction, one must have standing and be able to demonstrate imminent harm. A student and family at Aki could do this, with community backing. Or a teacher could do this based on, perhaps, discriminatory hiring practice.

Congress only remedied one aspect of the HQ equation. And the remedy is temporary at that. The rationale for the Ninth Circuit ruling remains unchanged; placement of inexperienced, unqualified, out-of-field teachers in high poverty/high minority schools to a disproportionate degree is against the letter and spirit of NCLB. If you are interested, email me at stoptfaseattle@gmail.com. Bring money.

Anonymous said...

In reference to the hiring freeze - when I contacted one of the SPS departments, I was told no one was available to answer my questions until Sept. 1, when new staff would be in place/hired. So is the hiring freeze just in effect through August?

curious

Anonymous said...

Curious,

I have no idea how long the freeze is in effect.

This is so obvious that I feel a little embarrassed to have to say it: it's not a good thing when management directives become unpredictable.

I mean, can you imagine? You're a principal, sitting in your office, and you get a phone call from a fellow principal to check today's email. You check your email and discover you have a few hours to hire the person you recently interviewed.

The Board owns this. They dismissed community and teacher concerns about the staffing process. I get that they can't fix all problems with the district, but it's poor governance to dismiss legitimate and fundamental problems by putting blind faith in staff.

How many times do we have to say this?

DWE

That Passionate Teacher said...

"Certainly we can pursue a TFA lawsuit. In federal court. Frankly, I would pursue a preliminary injunction but be prepared to put up a bond. For a preliminary injunction, one must have standing and be able to demonstrate imminent harm. A student and family at Aki could do this, with community backing. Or a teacher could do this based on, perhaps, discriminatory hiring practice."

You'd get tossed out of the courtroom in no time if you went in claiming a discriminatory hiring practice.

Job applicants have essentially no rights to a fair process, they only have the right to not be discriminated against as a member of a protected class. I know...it doesn't sound right, but an employer can rig the game just about any way they want and the applicant has almost no recourse--Unless the rigging is based on race, color, sex, age, etc...

Since "not being a TFA corps member" is not a protected class under Federal law, any hypothetical non-TFA applicants who get frozen out while TFA applicants get hired instead would have no recourse but to go down to the pub and curse into their beer at the injustice of it all.

Sucks...doesn't it?

Now, on the other hand, if the family of an affected student came into the Ninth Circuit and claimed that they were being discriminated against because only their high percentage minority school with a history of not making AYP suddenly is hiring inexperienced TFA corps members instead of experienced teachers? My guess is that the Ninth Circuit is looking for an excuse to give Congress the Smackdown it so richly deserves for writing that workaround to their first ruling.

Too bad I don't have any kids that go to Aki. Or a large pile of money.

SIGH.

StopTFA said...

Passionate Teacher,

Thanks for bringing up that point regarding "protected classes". My civil rights knowledge is rusty at best (that's why I said perhaps). One would think that district HR would be beholden to follow federal laws regarding teacher quality instead of the vagaries of Board member ennui or district admin favoritism. Does anyone know whether Paul Apostle (head of HR) strives to meet high ethical standards?

Anonymous said...

Right. So where are all those hypothetical Aki students and families "damaged" by the hiring practice (of preference hiring for TFA)? One Aki parent posted here that they wanted TFA in their classrooms, after having experienced what Aki has to offer via the traditional route. You can't really speak for other people. If people at Aki are damaged (or discriminated against), then they need to come forward and file. They can file a lawsuit, or go the less effective routes of OCR and/or OSPI complaints. A bunch of right-minded do-gooders can't do it for them.

-another parent

Dorothy Neville said...

It may very well be that a couple young, enthusiastic high achievers might quite well be good for Aki. They had to hire 20 teachers this year, right? So perhaps two TfAers in the mix is a good thing, balancing out some experienced teachers. So the TfAers and other new teachers can be mentored and the senior teachers can be invigorated with the youngsters energy. (I still wonder about the math position though. But who knows.)

The thing to remember is that this limited hire is not in TfA's best interest and is not their goal. What they want is a pipeline of 10 to 30 percent of ALL hires every year. This is the tip of the iceberg. If 20 percent of all new hires come from TfA every year, after five or ten years, what will the profession of teaching look like? What will schools and classrooms look like? Would it be an improvement on the way things are now?

Also, examine TfA model for expanding diversity and increasing the hiring pool. Sure, they have several thousand folks in the 2011 corps. What did we get? We got TfA's hand-picked 35 CMs to interview. TfA certainly positioned itself with the idea that these 35 would get hired. They are not acting like Seattle Schools had a choice, not really. They chose the 35. When reports are of hundreds of applicants for each job, how does having a few extra candidates increase the hiring pool by any significant amount? Not much.

Sure, perhaps not all 35 get employed. Then what? What does TfA do for those corps members that don't find jobs? How often does that happen?

Anonymous said...

Dorothy,

I recall that you drew the 10-30% TFA goal from a mission statement. Could you quote that mission statement for us or give us a specific pointer to it?

DWE

Dorothy Neville said...

Yes, DWE, next week when StopTFA gets the next batch of PDR emails and attachments from UW, the mission statement with those figures will be available. To save from purchasing hundreds of duplicate emails and multiple copies of Stritikus's Crosscut article that he emailed out, I go to UW to view the PR results and select the documents to purchase. Then the public records department must cull them into a file to send to StopTFA (who is not me, by the way).

I might have it elsewhere quicker, let me look.

Anonymous said...

"I think there should be a means for those with subject expertise to move into teaching."

I'm glad someone else corrected the misconception, but, yes, teachers who obtain a "Masters in Teaching" at the UW (the standard, program, I believe), all have undergraduate degrees (i.e. BA's, or BS's). If they are applying to teach high school they are required to have their undergraduate coursework approved by a coordinator in the appropriate science department in their "endorsement" subject.

My comment was meant to support the possibility (not certainty, because i don't if an alternative model is appropriate) to the MIT. In theory (and some of this is discussed in the COE's emails in the public records), this "alternative certification" would be used in high need fields in which subject matter expertise is particularly important (high school math, science, and language are particular examples, but there could be many others). It might involve a shorter program of course work (the MIT is a 2 year program, in which the 2nd year is spent in a classroom with COE mentoring) and a greater level of "apprenticeship."

COE people, are, after all, about education, and I did think the emails showed that they were thinking about what other methods might best educate teachers.

zb said...

Oops, that was me,

ZB

Anonymous said...

The TFA goal is 20% of all new hires. Then they leave in 2 years creating job openings. That means their goal is really a revolving teacher door. What if that actually works? Would people be so opposed to it then?

--another parent

Dorothy Neville said...

As we all know the TfA folk love the personal anecdote to display how wonderful they are and how great TfA is. Here's some more personal stories in the comments.

Dorothy Neville said...

Would a revolving teacher door work? Would it be good for the district, good for education? That's an excellent question.

How many new hires do we make each year? Assume TfA fills 20% of them each year. Assume 20% of all TfA CM stay for 5 years, with one in ten staying longer in the classroom. So what will the demographics of the district teaching staff look like in five or ten years?

Would these 20% of all new hires distribute evenly across the district? Isn't their mission also high poverty schools? What percent of those TfA alums who stay move to less challenging situations? Would the revolving door of teachers be experienced the same at Aki as at Eckstein?

Is that sustainable? What benefits would it have to students? How would PD and mentoring costs shift?

Should we treat K12 teaching as a profession akin to medicine or law or higher education? Could expanding TfA to a revolving door of teachers work along with strengthening professionalism in education or against it or does it even matter?

And recall, TfA works hard on their image of the best and the brightest, the most elite, most capable, most passionate and prepared to make a difference. How will they expand and accept many more recruits and also maintain their selling point of being the best and brightest?

Dorothy Neville said...

Furthermore, why would we give up selecting 20% of our new teachers every year? Districts give away a lot of power to TfA for recruitment and placement decisions.

Remember the old days of netflix before streaming expanded? Remember how new members got their top choice movies really fast and then after a few months they experienced longer waits for popular films? Great marketing strategy, eh? If I were TfA, that's exactly what I would do for newly expanded regions. Make sure that I handpicked the awesome-est of the awesome, for at least the first couple years. Then once well established....

Anonymous said...

@Dorothy Neville

"It may very well be that a couple young, enthusiastic high achievers might quite well be good for Aki. They had to hire 20 teachers this year, right? So perhaps two TfAers in the mix is a good thing, balancing out some experienced teachers. So the TfAers and other new teachers can be mentored and the senior teachers can be invigorated with the youngsters energy."

1. There are hundreds of applicants who are certified. It is insulting that you repeat the TfA mantra "best and brightest" just because many TfAs come from ivy league schools. Many of the best and brightest are out there and don't have the connections to or means to get into these schools. Futhermore, these applicants went through a certification program, which required student teaching. Therefore, their first foray in the classroom will not be an experiment on children of color in poverty. You have repeated this position several times on this blog and it sounds elitist each time.

2. I am an "experienced teacher"
(20 years) and am very enthusiastic. Not only that, I am much, much more competent and understanding than I was when I started. I even take classes and apply the latest research! I am
nationally board certified! YIPPEEE! (Do I sound enthusiastic, rather than old and boring?) Like the pilot, Sully, said (after he safely landed the plane in the river)--I'm glad I work in a profession that looks at gray hair as a positive--because I wouldn't have had the skills to do this as a young pilot. It is very insulting to experienced teachers to have you repeat the ed deform
"message" that indicts experienced teachers as burnouts waiting to retire. Please don't perpetuate this propaganda by casually repeating it.

3. I always enjoy mentoring young teachers because they are the future of the profession and I want to help them become successful.
Two year interns on the fast track to Goldman Sachs doesn't fit the bill, although I will always be glad to help them, too.

--please stop spreading the false jargon

Dorothy Neville said...

I did *not* call them the best and the brightest. Please do not put words in my mouth.

I said they are enthusiastic high-achievers, meaning they have successfully mastered the dog and pony show of higher education and applying for TfA. I did not even say they are the only enthusiastic high-achievers.

I have no idea how these particular folks compared to the other applicants. In SPS,in less challenged schools, my son had more than his share of experienced and lousy teachers. He also had some experienced and wonderful teachers. But I cannot speak about Aki, I am not at the school nor on the hiring team.

I am not in favor of TfA becoming established in Seattle Public Schools. I think it is long term damaging. However, if one uses these two hires as proof that TfA is awful then one puts themselves in a bind. It is just possible that they will turn out great. As others have pointed out, some parents from Aki are welcoming them with joy and relief.

As I said before though, I am dubious about the math placement of someone without a degree in math or science. But the other teacher comes with teaching experience and halfway towards a Masters in Ed.

This also sucks for UW because they are creating this whole program for 35 beginning teachers, but the experienced teacher instead would like to transfer her credits and work instead on her masters. She's an outlier to their model which will complicate things more than they are already complicated for them, since Stritikus insisted that they really would have 35 in their alt-cert TfA program.

Anonymous said...

the false jargon at 3:18 -

Dorothy is 1 of the good guys. Since there isn't commenting threading or other fancy stuff on this blog, it is a lot of work to go back and see she's on our side. Oh yeah - it is a blog COMMENT - comments aren't 200 page explanations of 42.

Dorothy is NOT a defender of the Kopp Krime syndicate.

I'm sure that when Wendy is doing the chardonnay circuit in Manhattan, Wendy looks at what her classmates from Princeton have accomplished over the decades - stealing millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions, billions ... and NO ACCOUNTABILITY! NO JAIL! Wreck the economy for hundreds of millions of citizens and BOTH political parties are prostrate to your schemes!

Wendy making 300 grand a year and living a 7 figure lifestyle is certainly a sacrifice, compared to what her classmates have attained.

Dorothy isn't 1 of the Kopp-ites defending the Krime or 1 of the Kopp-ites aspiring to join those upper East side and upper West side thieves.

To those who need to see all kinds of complicated stuff in Wendy's Krime spree, to those who read this comment and think the writer is negativecynicalangrybitter,

signed -
The rich are different than you and me.

Dorothy Neville said...

My point was this: Some of us are actively against TfA expanding to SPS. We think, as you do, 20 year enthusiastic veteran, that partnering with TfA will have long term damaging outcome.

But here we are with only two hires, and perhaps they are pretty good. Perhaps they are going to be a positive mix with the rest of the new hires at Aki. So if we tell people we are against TfA, they will wonder why? What's the big deal? All that angst and we just got two great young teachers, the sky did not fall!

My point is that TfA is not going to be satisfied with two or three or a dozen hires. They will push and insist and drive toward having 30 to 50 new hires every year.

Federal Way was supposed to hire 10 TfAers. Sure, they are to be open hires just like Seattle, nothing preempting the regular hiring phases. But did you know that originally the MOU had a penalty if they didn't hire the promised number? The penalty was amended out in early May.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Another parent, TFA has had 20 years. It hasn't worked in a single school in a single district. Ever.

Some classes, in a single year have made strides, but what then? As far as I know, there are no studies about the year after the kids in TFA classes who did well. Is it an lasting effect or one year?

Is a revolving door of teachers at a high-need school good for kids?

How does it built a teaching corps at the that school?

Dorothy is just parroting what Harium has said and what TFA says. I don't believe she thinks they are the best and brightest (I don't).

Federal Way is only taking on 4 TFA teachers (I called and confirmed this - it's about the per teacher fee TFA charges). That means they REALLY need to hire more in SPS.

If it were fewer than 10 TFA with no goal to push more and more, I'd probably buy into this little experiment. That is NOT TFA's goal and since it isn't, I'm not supporting it.

Also, where's the diversity in degrees and race/ethnic background we were promised?

StepJ said...

Rufus X,

I empathize with your situation.

What a damaging and unnecessary detraction to your child’s education to split them from the known support of their twin. They will also have the loss of your full support as they make the fraught transition to middle school. When parent orientations, school concerts, and other school activities are scheduled for the same day and time, which twin do you choose, Thing One or Thing Two? And then some additional salt in the wound to have your learned and founded concern for the best educational outcome for your children labeled, ‘Parent Convenience.’

As best as I can piece together this is the mill grind of Enrollment.

Enrollment proposes enrollment policy to the School Board each year. The School Board approves what Enrollment presents. Enrollment determines their own rules and processes to enact the policy.

Issues arise when the self-determined rules and methods of processing applications produce unintended results, or results contrary to the intent or language of policy – such as the separation of Thing One and Thing Two.

In these instances Enrollment will adhere strictly to their self-devised rules and operation methods and defend them by saying, “It’s Policy” – when in actuality it is not. The “It’s Policy” defense will not bow to logic, reason, or the best educational intent for your children.

To exacerbate the problem Enrollment has not produced Enrollment Guides for the last two years, and depending on the day/time/person you ask – a different answer will be provided. If you complete your application in accord with wrong advice you and your family bear the brunt. If you complete your application absolutely correctly but receive the “unexpected” result – again, your family, and your children’s education bears the brunt.

The only person who seems to know all of the enrollment ins/outs is Tracy Libros who cannot possibly complete all operations Enrollment on her own. But, I have also started to have the suspicion that perhaps this singular knowledge of all things enrollment is her means to job preservation. After all, who gets let go when the department budget gets chopped – the person who knows all, or the person who gives the incorrect answer – perhaps not from intent but just not knowing? But that is just my personal aside.

StepJ said...

part two --

This year Thing One and Thing Two faced a new challenge.

In the previous two years if your twins were assigned to separate schools you could contact Enrollment and option to have both assigned to the school of assignment of the twin with the highest student I.D. number.

This year the processing method changed. Twins, triplets, quads., etc. rippled through the Open Enrollment/Choice programming as single individuals. After the programmed portion of application processing IF you had completed the Sibling Linkage form your placements were reviewed. If it was discovered your multiples were assigned to separate schools you were supposed to be assigned to your Attendance Area school and then placed on the wait list of your first choice school.

However, there was a bit of a misstep in this method as the new method did not capture twins or higher multiples that were assigned to different schools.

In practice all of your multiples need to win in the lottery of Open Enrollment for all to attend the same school of Choice. The more multiples you have, the higher the odds you must supersede to traverse Open Enrollment and attend the same school.

A heads-up to families of multiples. Now is the time to voice your concerns to current members of the School Board, and the challengers up for election in November. Sitting members of the Board can voice their support of Thing One and Thing Two.

Prospective members of the School Board can provide their stance on the equal opportunity enrollment for multiples in the Choice System. BTW – a response of we’ll talk about it, we’ll look into it, and anything that is not declarative is a non-answer. In the past that has always evolved into – we’ll vote for anything that Enrollment proposes.

Common Sense, reason, logic, the best educational interest of your children do not hold sway in the current system. As an individual you will be ignored no matter the intelligence of your stance.

For personal support and to turn up the volume in regard to your support of your children consider joining Seattle Families of Multiples (SFOM) or Eastside Moms of Multiples (EMOMS) to raise the alert and have support in your struggle for the best educational and common sense opportunity for your twins.

WV says sawercat - a soured bureaucrat?

StepJ said...

And as follow-up. The rise in twin birth rates continues to rise, from 1:53 live births in 1980 to 1:31 in 2008. Per this Slate magazine article.

Modern day twins births are most often to older, affluent moms.

Moms that are educated and will not fold at the first mention of "It's Policy" and fade away to never be heard from again.

StepJ said...

Goodness, this truly seems to be an act of valuing education first.

Patrick said...

Where does this "TFA teachers are from Ivy League colleges" myth come from? I don't believe that grads of Ivy League colleges would make better teachers than grads of other colleges, but a district that did believe that and contracted with TFA expecting that would be disappointed. TFA recruits a lot from UW, WWU, UC Berkeley, and other state schools that are fine schools, but don't have the cachet of the eight Ivy League schools.

Maureen said...

Dorothy, you say: But the other teacher comes with teaching experience and halfway towards a Masters in Ed.

Are you talking about Kendra Abernathy? I got the impression, perhaps mistaken, that her experience is as a 1st year CM in Arizona(?) so she is transferring to Seattle. This is only based on whatever links I followed from this blog, so I could be wrong.

It's not all black or white said...

One thing that always gets to me when I read this blog is how everything is always seen as being black or white. TFA is bad, new math is bad, reforming schools is bad, closing schools is bad, etc. Anyone who tries to defend something "bad" is immediately attacked. In this thread, Dorothy was attacked even though she is supposed to be one of the "good guys," merely because she pointed out something good about TFA. Do any of you ever try to see the big picture? Do you try to understand why Susan Enfield might be excited about TFA? Can you see anything possible good in what they are trying to do? TFA was started because the teaching profession tends to attract students with lower academic qualifications than are found in other pre-professional programs. In many circles, teaching is held in low regard, despite it being one of the most important professions. I am a professor at a local university who has taught a wide range of students who intend to be teachers. The ones at our university have lower academic skills in the sciences than students in our non-majors science classes, despite the fact that many of these students will be eligible to teach middle school science or math with a K-8 endorsement. On the other hand, the TFA students who I know are altruistic, brilliant, and excellent students who gained teaching experience as undergraduates by working as TAs and tutors. If I had to have a first year teacher, I'd choose a TFAer any day of the week.

My compatriots in the math department also say that research shows that new math is more effective in increasing student learning and retention of material WHEN TAUGHT WELL. However, they agree that poorly taught traditional math may increase student understanding of the concepts in comparison to poorly taught new math. Regardless, all of these issues are not entirely black and white. There are some good things about TFA and some bad things about TFA. However, you might be more effective in changing the schools for the better if you try to understand WHY the school district does what it does instead of assuming that you automatically know better.

Anonymous said...

@it's not all b/w

It would be wonderful if Susan Enfield had been setting up programs to help students who continue to fall behind. The achievement gap increased considerably during her tenure as Chief Academic Officer.

Instead, she spent an inordinate amount of time (during her highly paid salary hours) setting up TFA, a program which has shown no significant gains for these students.

These students whom you cite, unfortunately, do not become teachers but are short term TFAs.
Research has shown that former TFAs are less likely than the typical college grad to do charitable work after their TFA stint than other college grads. In other words, these students go to greener pastures. This disruption is the last thing students who are vulnerable need.

In other words, the black and white here comes from very wrong solutions to a very serious problem--namely, how to help vulnerable students improve. The black and white comes from the critical period that students have to improve or be doomed for underemployment or jail.

There's nothing more black and white than that.

--in the trenches

Jan said...

I agree with Dorothy's TfA position -- here is my reasoning:

From one of the UW email strings, someone mentioned that TfA didn't get what they wanted and usually get in Seattle (a guarantee of PLACEMENT of X number of CMs) -- because the union contract did not permit it -- they would have had to collectively bargain. However, that contract will expire (in a year, I think?) -- at which time we (and the SEA) should anticipate a huge push for TfA's "usual" contract -- with the placement guarantee. They will argue tow things: (a) the "inefficiency" of trying to run their wonderful administrative/mentoring/MofE program with too few students, and (b) the remarkable success of their initial TfA placements. To that end, it will suit their needs very well to have just a few, stellar, TfA CMs in Seattle this year (they will have to do some 'splainin' and making nice at the COE, but with Stritikus in charge, and Gates money behind the scenes, that should be attainable.

Part of the "script" will be -- see, all those rabble rousing activists said TfA would be a disaster -- and LOOK! No disaster -- therefore -- we win, they lose, we are right, they are wrong, we are big they are little (oops -- channeling Matilda there). At any rate, dire predictions of problems by the opposition that didn't come to pass with 2 or 3 TfA'ers will grease the skids for the argument that 30 or 40 (each year) will be "just the same!"

If people truly believe that a full roll out of TfA in Seattle would be detrimental to teachers, kids, education in general -- we need nuanced, credible arguments. And we need to not be so diametrically opposed that we damage our credibility (after all, the research (in its "un-spun form) is on OUR side, not TfAs).

I think the TfA contract was ill-advised. I think the time and money that the District will need to spend is time and money that is misspent (and that was desperately needed elsewhere). I think the pro-TfA arguments are disingenous the same way that I think nuch Fox and MSNBC news reporting is disingenous -- it is spun. It is not intended to be balanced and informative. It is intended to "help" the public (and the board) to preconceived conclusions.

None of these arguments does (or should) depend in any way on whether two teachers -- both of whom have teaching credentials/experience well beyond the general TfA model -- are, or are not, good teachers who have successful years at Aki.

TfA KNOWS it only has a toe in the door. The COE emails leave no doubt that they intend to open this door MUCH wider, as soon as they can. Between their careful screening of CMs for this area AND the hiring process, it should not be surprising that the very few who made it through the process have the highest possibility for success that TfA can ensure. They are not the problem. The problem is the other 40 or 50 (annually), their cost, their inexperience, the time they will take to mentor, the fact that most of them will leave within 2 or 3 years, and the fact that they seem to believe themselves more accountable to their TfA handlers (in terms of instructional leadership) than to school-based leadership. The next arguments will be (1) who is on the School Board; (2) what provisions for TfA are in the next teachers' contract; and (3) IF there is another (or amended) contract between TfA and the District -- what is in the TfA Contract (in terms of guarantees, penalties, cost, District responsibilities for providing education that most teachers arrive with, etc.)

Anonymous said...

Or another possible solution, Jan:

Susan Enfield is replaced by a superintendent whose priority is students rather than self-promotion. The new superintendent ends the affiliation with TFA.

No matter who TfA places, stellar or not, we need a leader who knows that this is not the way to do business.

--remove the TfA groupie, Susan Enfield

Anonymous said...

it's not all black or white at 10:59

if you skim 1 month of diaries on this blog and you have reasonable reading skills, you'd easily be able to comprehend that few people on this blog have black and white solutions or answers.

some things are black and white. crap policies, crap implementation, orwellian marketing of crap - all from a subset of education "leaders" is pretty black and white. you write like someone who has their tenure and can afford to be confused and can afford to peee away another decade or 3 on deciding if something is crap.

I enjoy your reform math support. Did you know that ALL math teachers who think the reformists have evolved in hucksters protecting their turf only want to drill and kill kids into oblivion, so that they won't be bothered as they do their crossword puzzles in class?

signed b&w

Anonymous said...

false jargon at 3:18

after I posted a response defending Dorothy I realized that I over looked her use of that vile language for a couple of reasons.

I've read her stuff for a while, she's not 1 of them, so I figured her use of the language was ... satire?

it does set off alarm bells in me when that vile orwellian blather is used - and why is that orwellian stuff so effective?

for 1 thing, apparently unbeknownst to the ivory'd not everything is black and white people, there are people who excel at lying on the other side, and they must excel at lying so that they can sell their anti community lies. See all republican Presidential Campaigns in the last 40 (or more) years.

and on the other side of the liars is the most politically inept crowd of campaign keystone cops known in existence, a class whose only talent seems to be staying in charge as tens of millions and hundreds of millions of dollars are wasted every year "opposing" the liars.

it would be great if the lying language of the deformistas wasn't the starting point of discussion - but, that starting point is due to the incompetence of the opponents to the deformistas. i'm so old i don't blame the liars for being liars anymore.

EnablingLiarsPaysWell

Anonymous said...

My compatriots in the math department also say that research shows that new math is more effective in increasing student learning and retention of material WHEN TAUGHT WELL. However, they agree that poorly taught traditional math may increase student understanding of the concepts in comparison to poorly taught new math.

Isn't this the crux of the matter? You need better than average teachers and effort to make the reform materials work well. Why not use materials that are more likely to bring success to more students, even with a mediocre teacher?

-successes speak for themselves and don't need contrived "talking points"

Melissa Westbrook said...

Black or White, you have a few things wrong and one is that we all hate TFA.

I don't. I think most of those young people DO have their hearts in the right places. If you read some of their accounts of the two years, it sounds exhausting and harrowing and wonderful. But most of them leave and I believe a revolving door of teachers doesn't help schools or kids.

I don't like the TFA organization and what it has evolved to. That's what worries me.

It also worries me that you say this:
"TFA was started because the teaching profession tends to attract students with lower academic qualifications than are found in other pre-professional programs."

No, it wasn't started for that reason. I invite you to read anything Wendy Kopp has written or what is written at TFA's website. Please let us know where you read this because I have never seen it before.

TFA was started to create a pipeline (not a teaching corps) of teachers to face shortages and/or hard to place positions. It has evolved into putting TFA into places that have neither because TFA wants a larger and larger alumni base.

Dean Stritikus would disagree with you over having a first year TFA teacher versus one of his own students who finished the COE program. He has said this publicly.

We have tried, over and over, to ask the district why time and resources are being spent on TFA. We have no shortages of teachers.

We were told it was for diversity and yet the pool of TFA for this area is not that different from the teaching corps we have. The current TFA hires are all white and have liberal arts degrees. We did not get the diversity promised.

Yes, we have asked why the district made this decision and it simply makes no sense. That the district STILL won't say who the mystery donor is that is paying the extra cost of TFA ($4k per teacher per year) is troubling.

Anonymous said...

In case you haven't received this already, a Friday communication to Principals explains what the District is doing with the hiring at schools and the hiring freeze.

The original message is too long so I'm posting via 2 blog comments....

A friend in Seattle.



To: Principals and Assistant Principals
From: Robert Boesche’, Interim Assistant Superintendent for Business
Date: Friday, August 26, 2011
Subject: Financial and Staffing Update


Seattle Public Schools’ number one priority is to have a teacher in every classroom on the first day of school. We will meet this goal this September, but our fiscal reality requires us to be conservative.
Our 2011-12 Context
We begin this new school year with limited resources and a budget that was very difficult to balance requiring considerable cuts. Our fund balance reserve meets the low end of Board policy levels. Of new concern is an uncertain state budget forecast. Given the most recent economic trends, we believe there is a likelihood that additional cuts from the state will occur again this fall similar to those of last year. Collectively, these issues require that we be proactively conservative in our resource allocation.

Our enrollment forecast for 2011-12 is for approximately 48,000 students. Our history with our student assignment plan is limited to only the past year; the current year will be our second year under the new system and our first with a revamped transportation plan. As a result, the potential for variance is greater than it would be under a more predictable long-running approach. This, along with the potential for further state cuts, requires that we be fiscally prudent and cautionary over the next few weeks. This starts with our single greatest expense, staffing.
Hiring in Schools
.

Anonymous said...

Here is the second part of the communication regarding hiring at schools and hiring freeze.

A friend of Seattle.


This past year, Seattle Public Schools employed over 3,500 full and part-time certificated instructional staff. We currently have an estimated 130 positions unfilled in our schools, which is not unusual for this time of year. Approximately 80 positions are in process; being screened, interviewed, and ready for recommendation. The remaining positions are posted, but the interview process has not yet started. These positions represent approximately 1.5% of the total staff. We have met with the Executive Directors and are asking them to work with you in the precautionary manner outlined below.

• Special Education positions, certificated and classified, are exempt from the process outlined below.
• Recommendations for hire received in Human Resources by 4:00 pm today will be filled.
• Recommendations received by 4:00 pm Monday, August 29th will be filled with a substitute, either your recommended candidates or a current Seattle Public Schools substitute.
- We have worked collaboratively with SEA to arrange for immediate placement of recommended candidates identified through the site-based interview process into the substitute pool.
- Substitutes assigned to these vacant positions will be eligible to work the before-school preparation days with central office funding the cost.

• Recommendations received after 4:00 pm Monday, August 29th will be filled with a current Seattle Public Schools substitute. A substitute request may accompany recommendations received after the deadline. Human Resources will attempt to honor those requests as they fill positions on Tuesday, August 30th.
• Once district-wide enrollment has been confirmed and staffing adjustments made, positions may become available to hire and contracts will be offered.
• In cases where enrollment falls below building projections, staff displacements may occur and/or substitute assignments ended. Staff on contract designated for displacement will be reassigned to open positions in other schools. We are no longer in a position of being able to financially mitigate these positions.
• SEAOP positions will be filled by substitutes until further notice.

Hiring in Central Office for Non-Critical Positions
Our current central office employment freeze for non-critical positions is set to expire on August 31. However, due to fiscal constraints we will continue this into the 2011-12 school year.

Next Steps
Attached is a document providing talking points to be used with candidates so that we are communicating a consistent message. We acknowledge the difficulties these hiring precautions create, but we cannot risk placing the district in an adverse financial position in September with less-than-anticipated enrollment only to be further compounded by legislative cuts later in the fall. Finance and Human Resources have been working closely with Executive Directors of Schools over the last several days to create a process whereby strong candidates can help start the school year with priority consideration of a contract offer. Executive Directors will be following up with those of you affected by this action on an individual basis as needed.
If you have further questions regarding the hiring protocols, contact Paul Apostle (252-0282) or Amy Valenti (252-0374) in Human Resources for more information. For questions regarding financial or budget issues, please contact Bob Boesche (252-0086) or Duggan Harman (252-0057).
Thank you for your support and cooperation

Anonymous said...

Below is the rest of the communication to Principal regarding school hiring and hiring freeze.

A Friend of Seattle.


This past year, Seattle Public Schools employed over 3,500 full and part-time certificated instructional staff. We currently have an estimated 130 positions unfilled in our schools, which is not unusual for this time of year. Approximately 80 positions are in process; being screened, interviewed, and ready for recommendation. The remaining positions are posted, but the interview process has not yet started. These positions represent approximately 1.5% of the total staff. We have met with the Executive Directors and are asking them to work with you in the precautionary manner outlined below.

• Special Education positions, certificated and classified, are exempt from the process outlined below.
• Recommendations for hire received in Human Resources by 4:00 pm today will be filled.
• Recommendations received by 4:00 pm Monday, August 29th will be filled with a substitute, either your recommended candidates or a current Seattle Public Schools substitute.
- We have worked collaboratively with SEA to arrange for immediate placement of recommended candidates identified through the site-based interview process into the substitute pool.
- Substitutes assigned to these vacant positions will be eligible to work the before-school preparation days with central office funding the cost.

• Recommendations received after 4:00 pm Monday, August 29th will be filled with a current Seattle Public Schools substitute. A substitute request may accompany recommendations received after the deadline. Human Resources will attempt to honor those requests as they fill positions on Tuesday, August 30th.
• Once district-wide enrollment has been confirmed and staffing adjustments made, positions may become available to hire and contracts will be offered.
• In cases where enrollment falls below building projections, staff displacements may occur and/or substitute assignments ended. Staff on contract designated for displacement will be reassigned to open positions in other schools. We are no longer in a position of being able to financially mitigate these positions.
• SEAOP positions will be filled by substitutes until further notice.

Hiring in Central Office for Non-Critical Positions
Our current central office employment freeze for non-critical positions is set to expire on August 31. However, due to fiscal constraints we will continue this into the 2011-12 school year.

Next Steps
Attached is a document providing talking points to be used with candidates so that we are communicating a consistent message. We acknowledge the difficulties these hiring precautions create, but we cannot risk placing the district in an adverse financial position in September with less-than-anticipated enrollment only to be further compounded by legislative cuts later in the fall. Finance and Human Resources have been working closely with Executive Directors of Schools over the last several days to create a process whereby strong candidates can help start the school year with priority consideration of a contract offer. Executive Directors will be following up with those of you affected by this action on an individual basis as needed.
If you have further questions regarding the hiring protocols, contact Paul Apostle (252-0282) or Amy Valenti (252-0374) in Human Resources for more information. For questions regarding financial or budget issues, please contact Bob Boesche (252-0086) or Duggan Harman (252-0057).
Thank you for your support and cooperation

Dorothy Neville said...

Where did I use that vile language! Show me where I said TfA was the best and the brightest. I did not and I do not believe that they are.

My comment above in this thread simply comments that TfA claims an image of the best and the brightest. They have manufactured elite status by their application process. They actively recruit high performing students from highly competitive colleges and then they do not accept 7 out of 8. The ones that do get accepted do have to work hard, but the rewards after their two years are over are great for them. School loans paid off and doors opened. All of that is considered natural and good for the country for those kids because TfA assures them they are the best and the brightest. The most deserving.

My point above, if it was unclear, is that this manufactured elitism does not grow well. It will conflict with its mission to grow, to expand substantially and accept WAY more recruits.

read this thoughtful piece, perhaps it explains it better than I can.

Anonymous said...

From OSPI on Common Core Standards and WA State:

Adoption & Implementation [of Common Core Standards]

Since state assessments will not change until the 2014-2015 school year, districts do not need to
complete transition to common core standards until that time. Existing state standards will remain in effect until then. State assessments for the new standards will begin in the 2014-15 school year. A draft timeline for approval can be accessed online:
http://www.k12.wa.us/corestandards/Timeline.aspx.


OSPI Updates for 2011

FYI

Anonymous said...

Second half of the communications to Principals regarding school hiring and hiring freeze....

A friend of Seattle


Hiring in Schools
This past year, Seattle Public Schools employed over 3,500 full and part-time certificated instructional staff. We currently have an estimated 130 positions unfilled in our schools, which is not unusual for this time of year. Approximately 80 positions are in process; being screened, interviewed, and ready for recommendation. The remaining positions are posted, but the interview process has not yet started. These positions represent approximately 1.5% of the total staff. We have met with the Executive Directors and are asking them to work with you in the precautionary manner outlined below.

• Special Education positions, certificated and classified, are exempt from the process outlined below.
• Recommendations for hire received in Human Resources by 4:00 pm today will be filled.
• Recommendations received by 4:00 pm Monday, August 29th will be filled with a substitute, either your recommended candidates or a current Seattle Public Schools substitute.
- We have worked collaboratively with SEA to arrange for immediate placement of recommended candidates identified through the site-based interview process into the substitute pool.
- Substitutes assigned to these vacant positions will be eligible to work the before-school preparation days with central office funding the cost.

• Recommendations received after 4:00 pm Monday, August 29th will be filled with a current Seattle Public Schools substitute. A substitute request may accompany recommendations received after the deadline. Human Resources will attempt to honor those requests as they fill positions on Tuesday, August 30th.
• Once district-wide enrollment has been confirmed and staffing adjustments made, positions may become available to hire and contracts will be offered.
• In cases where enrollment falls below building projections, staff displacements may occur and/or substitute assignments ended. Staff on contract designated for displacement will be reassigned to open positions in other schools. We are no longer in a position of being able to financially mitigate these positions.
• SEAOP positions will be filled by substitutes until further notice.

Hiring in Central Office for Non-Critical Positions
Our current central office employment freeze for non-critical positions is set to expire on August 31. However, due to fiscal constraints we will continue this into the 2011-12 school year.

Next Steps
Attached is a document providing talking points to be used with candidates so that we are communicating a consistent message. We acknowledge the difficulties these hiring precautions create, but we cannot risk placing the district in an adverse financial position in September with less-than-anticipated enrollment only to be further compounded by legislative cuts later in the fall. Finance and Human Resources have been working closely with Executive Directors of Schools over the last several days to create a process whereby strong candidates can help start the school year with priority consideration of a contract offer. Executive Directors will be following up with those of you affected by this action on an individual basis as needed.
Thank you for your support and cooperation.

seattle citizen said...

Melissa is exactly right about TFA. It was started to provide a sort of America-Corps emergency staffing for places that couldn't get teachers. It has become something radically different: A tool to drive home the idea that teachers don't need preparation, that they merely need a few weeks training and a script, and off they go. TFA has become a tool to deprofessionalize teacher and turn it into just another assembly line: Data in, data out.

Melissa writes that "We have tried, over and over, to ask the district why time and resources are being spent on TFA. We have no shortages of teachers. We were told it was for diversity and yet the pool of TFA for this area is not that different from the teaching corps we have. The current TFA hires are all white and have liberal arts degrees. We did not get the diversity promised."

Look back at the transcripts of the board meetings, Black or White, and you will see an amazing hodge-podge of rationales put forth for why we "need" TFA. The last one settled on seems to have been, "it expands the hiring pool." Since there is no shortage of applicants for teaching positions in Seattle, this can only mean it "expands the hiring pool" by adding some other quality to it. What is that other quality? Since applicants are all different, yet have the commonality of a teaching certificate, it can only mean, "expands the hiring pool to include those without certificates."
Is this the direction we want to go? That is the crux of the matter: Do we value the hard work and dedication and commitment that the certificate represents, or do we want to do away with it and let anybody teach?

TFA suggests (now) that their "teachers" don't need certificates, they've got some sort of je ne sais quoi, a quality you can't put your finger on, but is best described as eagerness and commitment.

So are we okay with doing away with the certification process (a year or so of classes in adolescent development, classroom management, ed law, pedagogy, content...plus some months student teaching, or practicing under a teacher) and "expanding the hiring pool" by letting people with only eagerness and commitment spend just a couple of years in our poorest classrooms before bailing out?
(continued)

seattle citizen said...

(continued):
And lets not forget that it IS the poorest children who are targeted by this. TFA makes no bones about it (though the superintendent denied this: When Director Patu asked why only schools with poor students would be getting TFA, the superintendent said that it was NOT a district mandate that predominantly poor schools hire TFA, schools themselves are free to hire whom they will...even tho' TFA's sole mission is to go into schools with poor children in them.

And now we see, of course, that it is the schools with more poor children in them that are getting TFA: Aki Kurose, to start.

The superintendent KNEW that the plan was to get TFA into schools with poor children; heck, the district sent TFA a list of these schools. Yet the superintendent COULDN'T say this to Director Patu, she had to say that any school could hire TFA.

The Ninth Circuit wonders the same thing, as do I: Why would we give uncertified teachers to our poorest children? The 9th ruled it was an infringement on the civil rights of those children, and I agree. (Furthermore, there are of course students who excel in those classrooms, and these students will get the uncertified, short-termer, deer-in-the-headlights, overworked and overstressed TFA instead of a certified teacher, along with the rest of the students. TFA argues that its people are "best" for "poor" students and minorities, that somehow TFA can "address the acheivement gap." But what about children in those classrooms who are already succesful? Should THEY get an uncertified temp?

This points to the grand fallacy, the sales gimmick of Reform: Whole schools must be destroyed in order to address the propagandized "data" gap of only part of the students; individuals who struggle are the reason for cheapening and simplifying the education of EVERY student.

Anonymous said...

According to my reading of the hiring freeze, candidates recommended by 4 pm today will be placed in their to-be-hired school as substitutes. Contracts would be offered after enrollment was confirmed.

What's unclear is whether the desired candidate, working as a substitute, could be displaced by a another displaced teacher during staffing adjustments.

parent

zb said...

"Seattle Public Schools’ number one priority is to have a teacher in every classroom on the first day of school."

Ugh, that this should be followed by, effectively, a "but, we're not going to do it; we plan to fail at our 'number one priority.'

And, I suspect a plan that is going to affect the most vulnerable students, in special ed and in the socieconomically distressed schools.

Infuriating.

Anonymous said...

What's up with all the twin/multiple complaints? We have a guaranteed assignment plan. Twins, if their aboslute first priority is "being together", may have that wish met at their local school without any fuss nor muss. The complaint here really is that "twins" don't get some sort of advantaged enrollment option at an option school or special program. Neither does anybody else. Not to mention, the whole idea that a middle schooler can't spend the day apart from a twin. Sheesh. What would you do if you had a real problem?

-give it a rest

not a twin said...

Did sibling linkage mean that multiples had an advantage in option schools? That only one had to win the lottery and all got seats, potentially bumping out other lottery participants? Was that a fair lottery?

Should option schools have sibling priority at all?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the assessment that the twin complaints need to stop. They should not get any special treatment when applying to an option school.

If it is so important that they stay together (#1 priority) - then you have your neighborhood assignment.

If you believe that the option school provides a better education (which is not true in Rufus X's case - as both sites are APP/Spectrum locations) - then you take your chances.

-Another Mother of Twins

zb said...

My feelings about the concepts of TFA are anything but black and white. In fact, my first introduction to the program was at its inception. Then, I saw a "best and a brightest" student join the program, learn to teach, and become the kind of teacher whose students (and parents of the students) track her down years afterwards to tell them how she changed their lives.

My problem with what the TFA program has become is that it's transformed from what I thought it was -- an entry point for people who weren't sure they wanted to teach, taking on jobs for which there was an under supply of qualified candidates. In that original version (and I don't know if it ever was that, but it's what I thought it was), I thought it served a potentially useful role.

Now though, it seems to have transformed into developing a temporary workforce, as an alternative to drawing highly-qualified teachers into the profession and then allowing them to become expert classroom teachers. My evidence in this belief is 1) entering Seattle at all, where we do not have "unfillable" positions and 2) the growth of the program in general, including the 20% figure Dorothy cites, but also the Walmart donation, and the expansion into more and more "markets."

I see that change as being part of the, yes, "wallmartification" of education, and I do not believe that will be good for public education in the long run. I think it will be devastating for the majority of schools, the ones that do a good job now and I think the evidence that it improves the situation at the schools that are not doing a good job is simply not there (i.e. Aki Kurose).

Charlie Mas said...

So the whole benefit of the District's contract with Teach for America was to broaden the hiring pool. As a result, the hiring pool of about a thousand applicants has been supplemented by an additional 35. Have I got that right?

All of this just to add 35 names to the candidate pool?

Anonymous said...

All this to add 35 names?

All what? A few emails, and a few dinners doesn't sound like a lot to me. Might be a big deal to those who love reading email. But not in reality.

-another parent

zb said...

There are a few questions asked here in the comments of those of us who are seriously troubled by the entry of TFA into SPS schools. One of them is what we would do if the "revolving door" worked (say, at Aki)? My first question would be to want an answer of "worked" means. Test scores (though not irrelevant) aren't enough. But, more importantly, it's not enough if one or two teachers, in a particular year accomplished something. We'd need to see that first year TFA teachers at Aki were consistently performing better than the teachers they could have hired in their place. That is, not the comparison that "Not Black/White" cites, that she'd rather have a "first year TFA teacher than a first year teacher who isn't TFA." Because, of course, the goal can't be to compare the best TFA teacher to the weakest alternative teacher, but, the average TFA teacher to the average teacher without TFA. It's not impossible that the average TFA v average other possibility could come out positive for a school like Aki. But, there's no evidence that it would, and, if in some future study it did, the study would say little about what it means to the rest of the schools (in seattle citizens comparison, that the problem at a few schools are being used to disrupt education for everyone).

My strongest opposition to the current TFA model stems from the belief that teachers get better, much better, after a few years. I think that anything that leaves us in a constant state of having most students taught by teachers with less than five years of experience is going to reduce the quality of teaching. I think TFA is contributing to that problem, with the goal of developing a pyramidal workforce in education (as, for example, in academic science or major law firms). In science, at least, many will argue that the system "works" (in the sense that it gets us the most science for the least money), but even there, where the system is long established, people are starting to question whether that's really true. In science, it works at least partially because of the international characteristics of the workforce. In education we wouldn't (largely) have that benefit, so I'm wary of the solution "working." (in the short term, but certainly in the longer term, since I hope that someday TFA won't be the only game in town for Harvard graduates who don't want to go to law school).

TFA would probably get much more of my support if a 5 year commitment was required. That would require students applying to consider whether they really want to teach, would allow the students to have at least some time with a trained teacher, and would decrease the overall size of the pool. Then, we could do the experiment of whether an alternative teacher certification would produce as good, or better teachers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Another parent, if you read the e-mails you can see hours and hours of work and machinations for this effort. That's time that Enfield, Ferguson, et al should have been doing other real work. It's not just a few e-mails and a few dinners.

ZB, Bill Gates feels the same way about the time commitment for TFA. He has stated that he would like to see it be 3-5 years to get more people who might stay teachers. (Never let it be said I didn't ever agree with anything he said about education.)

zb said...

I can see a minor issue with the sib linkage issue with respect to twins at option schools. Presumably in the one standard practice with option schools, one would apply to an option school (like TOPS or Pathfinder) for an eldest child and then have the sibs follow along (with the sib tiebreaker). In the case of twins, without a "linkage" guaranteeing spots for both the twins, one twin needs to spend a year at another school.

But, the alternative, used in NY schools (and there was an article about it in the NY times, I think) of giving twins 2 shots at getting in (either one gets in, the other gets) in doesn't seem fair. But it seems reasonable that they should be able to apply as a single unit (i.e. they get one shot at winning the "lottery", but if they win, they take two spots at the school). Of course, if such an option existed (does it already?), it should be available to any family that wants to move two or more kids into an option school.

Rufus X said...

I'd like to point out that Option Schools and choice through open enrollment are not the same. Our situation does not involve Option Schools at all - strictly open enrollment/open seats. I don't and have never expected policy to be written to include every single rare exception. I was under the mistaken impression that those rare exceptions would be met with a commitment to resolution, not a hardlined "if you don't like it, just enroll your kids at the local school and have them work 1-2 grade levels below" - The same school we were trying to avoid through open enrollment. I wouldn't call that a resolution, though it does fall in line with enrollment's intent to force students into neighborhood schools, and their focus on capacity management vs. academic rigor.

Chris S. said...

Another parent,

Melissa said it, but make no mistake, there was lots of tax-payer-funded FTE at SPS and UW COE going into all that wheeling and dealing and ethical contortionism.

The UW had to design a whole new program. And TFA might pull the plug if they don't get those 35 hired. A great deal for TFA, a sucky deal for everyone else.

StopTFA said...

We know that UW's start-up costs are $80K, not including salaries. The UW Education Outreach has a "Risk Opportunity" fund and, since we now know Stritikus is a "betting man" (not with his money, mind you), will carry the potentially under-enrolled over-extolled TFA contingent for years 1 and 2. Regulators at the PESB and OSPI have, with bated breath, plowed the field for TFA. On what grounds? Based on what reproducible results? In reality, there's a helluva lot more urgent and effective measures SPS should be investing in. Not dinners at the next uber-chic eatery uptown.

CCM said...

Rufus X,

Now I'm confused - you say that you applied during Open Enrollment to avoid a school that would have your kids working 1-2 grade levels below where they test - but Thing 1 is APP - so he/she is guaranteed a spot at one of the two middle schools. If you are in the boundary of that APP school, then Thing 2 is guaranteed a spot as well - and would be placed in Spectrum if you enrolled in the program on time.

My take from your post was that you were using Open Enrollment to apply to the APP school that is not your geographic school - in which case - you took your chances and lost.

Hamilton and Washington are both packed full - due to their large boundaries and the large, and ever-growing, APP cohort. Not likely that Thing 1 would have ever been accepted to the non-geographic assignment - regardless of what enrollment was telling you.

I have yet to hear of the district switching APP assignment even one time in the past three years since they split the program at the middle school level.

Really no reason to - right? - as they supposedly "aligned the curriculum" and each school is equal (other than the "shininess" of Hamilton).

Anonymous said...

CCM - I don't know the details of the twins' placement, but a family choosing APP at Hamilton doesn't necessarily live in the neighborhood assignment area for Hamilton.

If you live in the Eckstein neighborhood, Hamilton is the designated spot for APP, and Eckstein the designated spot for Spectrum. Should you choose Spectrum, the assignment would be at Eckstein, but there is no guarantee of a Spectrum placement, even if you apply on time during open enrollment.

a reader

Rufus X said...

@CCM - It is confusing and complicated, which is why we did our best to fill out our open enrollment forms for both students in such a way that this wouldn't happen.

The timeline in short (and possibly clear as mud):

*Both students were spectrum in 5th grade at a K-5 school.

*Thing 1 tested into APP during 5th grade, applicable starting 6th grade

*Prior to open enrollment period, both students received an initial assignment of general ed to their neighborhood middle school.

**Rising 6th grade Spectrum designated students have to go through open enrollment for a Spectrum seat at their neighborhood assignment middle school, regardless of whether the Spectrum designation is new or existing for said rising 6th grader.

**Rising 6th graders new to APP have to go through open enrollment for new APP assignment even to their pathway school.

(Why this is not an automatic assignment prior to open enrollment, I do not know - I don't set enrollment policies.)

**There is no sibling linkage form for schools that are NOT K-5 or K-8. This seemed to be a source of confusion in the enrollment dept because I got different answers from different people, and in the end all agreed that there was, in fact, no sibling linkage form for our students - only for K-5/K-8.

*We filled out our forms with the goal that both would wind up at the same school in their respective programs.

*Thing 1 was assigned to regional APP pathway school (2nd choice on the application) and put on wait list for 1st choice (APP non-pathway).

*Thing 2's assignment remained to general ed neighborhood school, wait listed for the 1st choice school's Spectrum (i.e. same school as Thing 1's 1st choice APP waitlist).

*Thing 2's Spectrum wait list moved, was offered and accepted a spot at 1st choice school, which freed up a general ed seat at the neighborhood assignment school.

The assertion that "If you are in the boundary of that APP school, then Thing 2 is guaranteed a spot as well - and would be placed in Spectrum if you enrolled in the program on time" is not accurate - different programs and no sibling linkage. Even if we had skipped the out-of-boundary school choices - to have them at the same school would have required 1) Open enrollment application for APP at pathway school as 1st and only choice on open enrollment form (since Thing 1 is new to APP), AND 2) That same APP pathway school's Spectrum program as the 1st and only choice for Thing 2's open enrollment form. Even in this case, there would be no sibling linkage and Thing 2 has no sibling preference at all (if that even still exists) since Thing 1 was not already enrolled there (again - new to APP).

*Today, if we wanted to put thing 2 on the Spectrum wait list for Thing 1's school, Thing 2 would be at the end of the line since it's past the deadline (which is understandable). It is just as unlikely for that wait list to move since there are 7x as many kids on the Spectrum wait list there as there are on the APP wait list at Thing 2's school.

Yes it is confusing, and yes we, as you put it, "took (our) chances and lost." I guess my point is - does it really have to be this confusing? In the eyes of Enrollment Planning, the short answer is no, just enroll them both in their neighborhood school that does not serve (APP) and does not have enough seats for (Spectrum) their respective academic programs. Or separate them. I could understand the separation if the APP and Spectrum programs were not available at both middle schools. But they are.

As I said from the start - we filled out the forms correctly, we played the game by the rules set up by enrollment, and we still find ourselves in this pickle with no recourse w/o movement on waitlists. It is frustrating, and despite what Give it a Rest thinks, it is a REAL problem. Not a problem for the vast majority of families, not one I'd expect many to understand, but a problem. Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Charlie Mas said...

All this damage to the relationship with the teaching corps.

All this damage to the relationship with the community.

All this strum und drang at Board meetings.

All this political activity on both sides.

This whole thing should have been handled differently. Either it just should have been rejected out of hand as worthless or the superintendent should have just signed the deal without a Board vote. This never should have come before the Board because it is a hiring issue - which is a management decision, not a governance decision - and the contract is for far less than the $250,000 that requires Board approval.

CCM said...

Rufux X-

Good God - that is confusing. I have read your post several times and I still don't think I completely follow. I did think that APP assignment was automatic to pathway school (and it sounds like that is where your APP eligible ended up as it is a guarantee if enrolled on time).

Thinking that 1st choice for Spectrum should have been pathway APP school to have a better shot at having both at the same school. Making non-pathway APP school first choice for both most likely wasn't the best choice in hindsight.

Much luck to you this year - and hope it all works out.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

Steve and Co. were courted by TfA--it was all over the emails. Getting buy-in from the board established credibility, and gave political cover to Enfield and, later, Strikius.

Remember, this program was almost an afterthought for MGJ. Susan and Janet needed to establish allies.

By the time Enfield was made interim superintendent, Steve and Co. were on board and Enfield could look like she was just following through on a plan with consensus.

Then, these emails surfaced and Enfield was revealed as the ringleader.

Regardless of one's political bent, there was a whole lot of mess going on behind the scenes here and Susan Enfield has been the unmistakable operative.

--ethics is how you behave when you think no one is looking

StopTFA said...

Not to mention that the Board would have to approve applications to OSPI for "emergency" out-of-field teachers for core subject areas (unless TFA does wood shop?). By getting the Board to give the okie-dokie to the TFA MOU essentially took away (from anyone with less than half a spine) the ability to vote no on an application for conditional cert.

Jan said...

Stop TfA said: Not to mention that the Board would have to approve applications to OSPI for "emergency" out-of-field teachers for core subject areas (unless TFA does wood shop?). By getting the Board to give the okie-dokie to the TFA MOU essentially took away (from anyone with less than half a spine) the ability to vote no on an application for conditional cert.

Charlie -- the above is, I think, the reason why the Board vote was required. The contract REQUIRES the board to seek/support conditional certification for any CMs who are hired. Once they sign it -- if they DON'T vote to support conditional certification, they have breached their contract with TfA and can be sued for not living up to their part of the bargain. Personally, I suspect that Dr. E and Janis would have been charmed to just show up for a bunch of radio interviews and "announce" that the golden children had arrived -- but they need to make sure that the Board would be contractually obligated to carry the conditional cert water, once the behind-the-scenes pressure and fiddling around with hiring pools, etc. had ensured that TfA CM's were hired.

Anonymous said...

So I have just learned that there is a new TFA teacher at my child's school (not Aki). Since they were not part of the board approval process, does this they are most likely already certified?

Seattle parent

Calzone said...

Not necessarily, but they might. TFA members that were hired after the board meeting will be teaching with emergency sub certificates, until they are voted on at the September board meeting. There was 1 or 2 TFA members that were already certified, 1 of which was noted during the August, but I think she is teaching at Washington?

Anonymous said...

well, South Shore has at least 1, could be more...

Seattle parent

Anonymous said...

Interesting, three anti-twin posters in a row. Same arguments with a sprinkiling of exact wording from the SPS enrollment website and forms. Hmmm, who could you be? (wink, wink.)

For zb and Rufus X who presented thoughtful statements. In Seattle multiples do not have the advanced odds of New York.

In Seattle if only one twin wins the lottery and gets into an option school, then the one that did win is withdrawn and both are reassigned to their geo school. Double bonus negative odds. No two applying as one, or each receiving a chance to be assigned and recognized as the sibling of the other.

Twins are not recognized as siblings or members or the same family. They receive zero benefit or recognition that the different aged children of the same family receive.

Instead, beat the double negative odds or play Sophie’s Choice. Which do I sacrifice for the possible survival of the other?

-With three you get a big car

Melissa Westbrook said...

Are you sure they are in TFA or former TFAers? There are a lot of former ones floating around so maybe that is the confusion.

If there are more, they need to get permission from the Board. Friday at 5 p.m.is when the agenda for the next Board meeting goes up. We can check then.

Anonymous said...

Wink, Wink... no not SPS staffer. It's amazing how many times people say that when they disagree with somebody else's position. If you want your twins to go the same school, you forget special advanced programs, you go for your neighborhood school and you take the advanced options available there or not. If you really cared so much about "twin-ness" you would do that, and the district provides for it. No, we shouldn't be giving special preference for special options, and no special paperwork is going to be "doing it right". No, nobody would assume because your child got into your regional APP that another sibling would get into a different program at the same school, or that you should get preference at that Thing 2's school in any way shape or form. And, why would anybody think they could get their APP student into a different regional APP in the first place (presumably Washington)? Local school? Remember? Sounds like you're trying to game the system, bet they think that downtown.

-SPS parent

Anonymous said...

There is no real twin preference. Assignments are made by the highest student ID number. The highest student number is truly random.

So there isn't a situation where is one gets in the other does two. It is simply that the twins are "supposed" to share one number during the open enrollment process so they have one shot at the opening. The two students have the same one chance as everyone else.

This rule/policy was intended so that families had to win the lottery once not twice.

- north seattle mom

Rufus X said...

RE: "trying to game the system" - Well, if that's what they think downtown, that would be both unfortunate and an incorrect supposition

StepJ said...

Goodness. Write an angry post and go away for a day and look what happens.

Rufus X - My apology to you. I was the angry parent yet all of the vitriol was directed towards you instead of me. I'm sorry you received the boiling oil when I lit the fire. I should have just expressed my support and kept quiet about the rest. Please let us know your outcome.

North seattle mom - They did away with the highest student id number rule this year.

Other posters - Sibling Preference has not existed for two years now. It is not a portion of the NSAP. Also, Sibling Linkage is gone. That made a quieter, unannounced exit.

As the, parent of triplets?, points out multiples obtain no portion of the sibling tiebreaker if they are the oldest/first of the same grade span.

There is no sibling preference.
There is no sibling linkage.
Multiples are processed through the system (all grades and programs) as non-related individual students.

Dorothy Neville said...

Is there really no sibling tiebreaker to option schools?

According to this there are sibling tiebreakers almost everywhere, even trumping lottery for open choice high school seats.

Only places where there is not sibling tiebreaker is Montessori and Spectrum.

StepJ said...

Hi Dorothy,

Yes, there is a Sibling Tiebreaker.

If an older sibling is already enrolled at the school - attended the school last year, and will attend the same school next year then any other siblings making application to the school would receive credit for the Sibling Tiebreaker.

This is the first tiebreaker if any seats are available at the school. It is not a near assurance of being assigned to the school like the old sibling preference.

Multiples making application to a school (where no older sibling attends) do not qualify for the Sibling Tiebreaker and are not recognized as related.

Dorothy Neville said...

Ah, tiebreaker and preference are distinct. Thanks for the clarification, StepJ.

Give a Little said...

Rufus X,
Capacity, capacity, capacity. That is the district line regarding all Advanced Learning problems. Not enough Spectrum seats at your middle school? Capacity. Changing yor self-contained Spectrum to cluster-grouping? It will solve capacity issues. The real fact is that SPS has too many smart kids and their parents want them challenged. The poor job that the district does with struggling kids looks even worse when the ablest kids are allowed to sore. The bad teachers look worse when the good ones get a chance to really blow things out of the water with some high potemtial kids. Principals feel bad when their strugglers take front and center and their shortcomings as leaders are starkley revealed. Make the AL kids suffer and , not incidentally, get bludgeoned for complaining, and distract from the real problems of poor kids with uninvolved parents, a disfuntional SPED program, dyslexic kids going undiagnosed and untreated, bloated central administration and that crappy food we serve poor kids that makes them even worse off.

Rufus X is trying to get what his "things" need and it's a minefield. He is a parent who has probably given a ton of time tutoring,mentoring and god only knows what else. If his twins like to be together, who but him is to decide otherwise?

Buried Under Bull said...

Give a Little,

Not to nitpick but it's spelled soar.
Anyways, you are right. The problem this district has is taking care of kids with uninvolved parents, ELL, SPED and bloated, inefficient HQ staff. Obviously, if Advanced Learning was allowed to flourish, you get more highly involved parents at schools, a return of many private school families and one would think that would be a good thing. But it's like any public project from a road paving crew to the cops. If people start standing out in a positive way it makes the shirkers and the mediocre look bad. I, for one, am so damn tired of the happy talk coming out of my school and the district that I want to barf sometimes. I mean kids are getting screwed right and left. SPED kids are not getting served, they getting(frequently) warehoused in inclusive classrooms. No work to do and no expectations for them. Disgraceful. And if I see one more 5th grader writing her numbers backwards because she is so dyslexic and bored out of her skull because she can't follow along.

I must confess I talked to Dr Sue and I felt great afterwards. But we need a problem solver at the helm, not masseuse. Stop with the pep talks, things are nit well in the queendom and the empress is not wearing much at all.

dj said...

I can't find the answer to this (or a more appropriate thread on which to post my question), but have people started receiving transportation letters yet? I cannot find my kids' id numbers right now, and it is close enough to the start of school that I would really like to know whether or not I can rely on transportation for my kids (the bus transportation provided to my oldest during her first year, eg, was impractical in terms of time, while her transit last year was reasonable).

Anonymous said...

I received a letter for one child this week, but still haven't gotten one for the other. I was able to get the info with a call to Transportation.

The ID number should be on your child's report card (at least for elementary).

a parent

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dorothy Neville said...

The anonymous query about the Source's "By administrative request, schedules will not be displayed until the first day of school to allow for scheduling adjustments." will be deleted. But to speculate an answer anyway. Many of us fear that the lessons of Garfield (and other schools, Garfield just made the press) last Fall was not learned and the issues of under-staffing will be repeated. Add to that the last minute hiring slow-down from HQ as a precaution against over-staffing, and you get a situation where many high school students (perhaps middle school as well?) will show up next week with incomplete schedules.

I asked the district about the hiring slow-down and Bob Boesche replied that there will be about 50 teaching positions that will start the year vacant, with a substitute teacher. Note that this figure includes only those staffing positions in the budget, ie, ones according to enrollment predictions. Therefore if enrollment predictions are too low, there will be even more classes starting with substitutes. He said that 50 teachers is only about 1.5% of the entire teaching core, so really not bad, really. This is business as usual and about the same number of open positions we had starting school last Fall.

Charlie Mas said...

I like the way that the central office has to subtly blame others for their failings.

"By administrative request" means, blame the principals.

I have also seem them, any number of times, blame the Board for decisions.

It bugs me in part because it's petty and in part because they are not, in fact, blameless.

TechyMom said...

DJ,
You can also get student ID numbers from The Source. If you've forgotten your password, they'll send it to you. That's what always do when I need the number.