The first item on the Action item portion of the agenda was the conditional certification authorization for TFA hires.
As it turns out, only two names were put forth. You may recall, that there were 3 names (plus 1 other person but already she has a teaching certificate but joined TFA anyway). One of the hires was withdrawn and I gather that the SEA raised some concerns about the hiring process on this particular person. So it was announced that there will be another round of interviews for this position in the next couple of weeks and I assume this person will apply again.
Holly Ferguson, the new (deep breath) Executive Director of Partnerships, Policy and Strategic Communications, got up to answer questions. She explained that the hiring process included a review of applications materials, references, hiring committee, etc. )I will have to defer to StopTFA about Ms. Ferguson's statement about whether the recruits are highly qualified under NCLB and OSPI. There is a nuance to it and I'm not sure if Ms. Ferguson explained it clearly.) She did not state if they were enrolled in the UW's U-ACT program which is part of the condition of hiring them.
Betty Patu asked if they had certificates (she was a little confused on the process). Ms. Ferguson said no, that the Board has to approve their hire and then OSPI will approve their certificates. Betty asked if they had taken a required test, the WEST-E and Ms. Ferguson said that TFA had told the district "that they either have taken it or will be."
What? The problem here is that the next testing is in mid-September after school starts. If parents have to accept a teacher with 5-weeks training, they do get to at least make sure they have done everything required of them to get conditional certification BEFORE school starts.
Betty asked about see the test scores which seemed to surprise Ms. Ferguson who said she could find out.
Kay Smith Blum said her comfort level was low because of the lack of a definitive answer on whether the candidates had fulfilled the requirements. She said it would be good to have a process in place to verify if candidates had met standards. Holly said it was a "great idea" and she would get that piece into the pipeline.
Really? This is new idea to have verified that all teachers in the district have met the requirements under their certification and it can be demonstrated that it is so? Isn't this what HR does?
Then Sherry Carr asked about the TFA fee and who was going to pay for non-math/science recruits (as Washington STEM is paying that fee). Holly said there was going to be no impact to SPS on that area. Susan Enfield, visibly unhappy, said that there was a source. Sherry said well, do they want to remain anonymous? Enfield said no but the donor would be revealed when hires are made.
Honestly, is this a state secret? A donor has committed to paying but doesn't want their name revealed until the hires are made? My money is now on the Bezos Foundation (with an outside chance of Seattle Foundation). Part of me wonders if it is a single person, though.
Kay stated that her initial yes vote for TFA was to give principals options but with no definitive answers on the requirements being met that she would abstain from the vote.
Betty said she was the only one who voted against TFA and said she felt that the district had laid off first and second year teachers and they should be the ones offered these jobs. She said she, too, would abstain.
Steve Sundquist said he "absolutely supported TFA in SPS" and that all the reasons stated for bringing them in were still "broadly true" (whatever that means). He went on to say that TFA has more people of color and that the PESB had approved their application.
Sherry thanked the SEA for bringing up their concerns over the last 24 hours (I'm assuming this is in reference to the one candidate who got pulled).
So the vote was for 4-0-2 (Carr, Sundquist, Maier and Martin-Morris - for; there were no "no" votes and two abstaining (Smith-Blum and Patu). Director DeBell was not present. I have to wonder what his vote would have been.
So in spite of the fact that there was no definitive answer about whether these candidates have met all the requirements, four Board members, all the incumbents running again, voted yes.
This is again a case of taking staff's word for something (which they did with Silas Potter and Fred Stephens and look where that got us).