Sunday, August 21, 2011

Seattle Schools Meetings for August 22-27, 2011

Tuesday the 23rd
Audit&Finance Committee meeting from 4-6 p.m. (for Audit issues)
Agenda reflects these items:  capital performance audit follow-up, update on Pottergate, update and action plan on yet another audit, intro of Internal Auditor, schedule of departmental reviews, more School Board policies updates (HR)

Wednesday, August 24th
Board Work Session on Technology in Schools from 4-6 p.m.

Thursday, August 25 
Audit&Finance Committee meeting from 4-6 p.m. (for Finance issues)
Agenda reflects these items: financials update, community schools report, daily attendance issues, budget update

Saturday, August 27
Community Meeting with Director Kay Smith-Blum from 10-11:30 am at the Douglass-Truth library, 2300 Yesler Way at 23rd

Anyone attend the Parent Summit or Martin-Morris community meeting on Saturday? 

9 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

The minutes for the Curriculum and Instruction Committee meeting of June 27, 2011 have now been posted to the District web site and they are disturbing.

The Committee recommended that the Highly Capable Grant application be advanced to the full Board for action - despite the fact that the Committee never saw the grant application and neither did the Board. So what kind of review could they have made of this document if they never saw the document?

The Committee agreed to advance the Wallace grant for introduction and action by the full Board despite the absence of any emergency and despite the absence of any explanation for the expedited action.

The Committee heard about adjustments to the school reports, but there is no description of these adjustments in the meeting minutes so there is no record of these adjustments. Mr. Teoh is just now seeking input from principals on the school reports (over a year since they were released) and he said that the district will soon seek input on them from the public (more than a year after they are released). The Committee - astonishingly - suggests that Mr. Teoh share the school reports with the Board when they are done. Ummm... that seems an unnecessary action by the committee. Surely Mr. Teoh had no plan to keep the school reports secret from the Board.

Dr. Anna-Maria delaFuente came before the committee to give some definition to the expression "walk to math", but could only say that it was not an official term of art and that it could have multiple meanings. This explanation could have been done by email - it did not require a meeting - and it lies well outside the Board's governance responsibilities. The Board has no business meddling in this matter.

The committee recommended that the Board move forward with the appointment of the new members of the Disciplinary Appeal Council as required by policy. The term of office of the previous members expired at the end of the school year. This was an appropriate action and a timely one, but I'm not sure what review, if any, the Committee provided.

Cathy Thompson came to explain how Seattle Public Schools conducted interventions. First, I'm not sure what legitimate role the Board has in this matter. Second, the interventions, as described in the minutes, are atrociously misguided.

If you have ever been to one of these meetings then you have some idea of the desultory way that Director Martin-Morris runs them. They jump from topic to topic, appear to have no prior knowledge of any of the topics, and appear to have no real interest in any of the topics. The Committee doesn't do anything but automatically push everything to the next step. The Committee adds nothing of value, conducts no authentic review, and sets no standards. It's just a checkpoint that actions need to pass through on their way to the full Board.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, they amended the grant approval to "submit." Meaning the Board gave permission to submit it rather than approve it. (Check my School board meeting coverage where I discuss this issue.) Clever, no?

The Wallace foundation one is so promising but I can't understand a $1M grant...to form a plan. What happens if we don't get the next batch of money (and no guarantee that will happen)?

Dorothy Neville said...

Hah! I haven't seen the minutes yet. At this month's C&I, Harium praised the minutes from June.

Wallace foundation. Seemed legit to intro/act, but unfortunate. Should have better foresight, but hard to tell when getting grants. Supposedly this was on their radar for a while, but first I had heard about it.

School Reports!!!1 OMG! Charlie, do you know what the ideas were? Principals do NOT want school climate data on the report. Would be great for real estate to be used for something else. Cathy Thompson agreed. We haven't "contextualized" it whatever that means. And Cathy's example was that a principal hired to be "turnaround" and he/she "rocks boat" and therefore makes staff angry. Why should that be on the school report? They don't want it there!

Charlie Mas said...

ACH! School climate is one of the few critical things that must be included on a school report.

Braessae said...

Why should that be on the school report?

Hmm. Well -- how about because parents and students WANT it there? After all, if the school atmosphere is poisonous because of a feud between principal and teachers, that is pretty damn relevant stuff to know before you put a kid there.

Now -- WHY it is toxic is also relevant. I am sure that principals (who after all, have much more control over the media spin) can "tell their story" -- "when I got here, the inmates were running the asylum, the teachers were doing nothing except showing movies during class, no one passed the HSPE, and I cleaned house in this place from top to bottom -- blah blah blah" -- and then parents can decide for themselves (after you know, leaving little tidbits of chocolate outside the burrows, hoping to lure the terrorized staff out to tell their side of the story).

Moreover, there are ways to turn around a school, and then there are ways to turn around a school. If a given institution has some teachers who are legitimately not meeting kids' needs, there are usually ways to deal with those issues without totally trashing the school climate -- and while I can understand that principals who are too stupid or brutal, or leadership-deficient to figure that out might not want to publicize it, I can certainly see why parents would want to know about it.

Funny -- the "school reports" were supposed to be all about accountability and shining lights in dark places, and empowering parents to make sure that their kids went to "really excellent" schools -- but now that it may bite the administration/principals -- well, whoops -- cant have the public knowing about the results of school climate surveys, right?

RBHS PTSA Secretary said...

Yes I attended the Parent Summit on Saturday but I could have had a V-8..... The only I found refreshing was the presentation by Erin Jones, Assistant Superintendent of Student Achievement w/OSPI regarding Cultural competency, the "Opportunity" Gap vs. Achievement Gap, etc...Oh yeah and due to the Federally Funded program called School Improvement Erin only supports SPS Cleveland, West Seattle and Hawthorne. That's unfortunate. What I found the most troubling was the presentation by the Family Levy group.....we already know the types of services you provide & WE NEED THEM - THANK YOU! I truly didn't care to hear about the various stories, situations, etc. I needed more meat and less "filler".
I did have a very brief opportunity to follow-up w/Bernardo Ruiz, Manager of Family and Community Engagement regarding a program that was communicated by Veronica Gallardo during the Ethiopian Community Coffee chat back in June. Apparently SPS will start a new program this fall that allows students to receive 1-4 foreign language credits if they can test to prove they can fluently speak and write the various foreign languages vs. taking the classes to receive the credits. I wanted to find out how this is being done and why it has not been openly communicated. I sent a follow-up email.......no response yet. I won't say it was a complete waste of time because I did make some connections w/regards to the works happening at Rainier Beach high school but that's about it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks for that, RBHS Sec'y.

none1111 said...

Anna-Maria delaFuente came before the committee to give some definition to the expression "walk to math", but could only say that it was not an official term of art and that it could have multiple meanings. This explanation could have been done by email - it did not require a meeting - and it lies well outside the Board's governance responsibilities.

So why on earth would Walk To Math be brought up so formally? What's the big board-level interest in WTM? Here's some speculation:

Walk To Math is slated to become the new model for what we've known as Spectrum. It's already happening, right? Then just dice up APP a couple more times and sprinkle it around the city to take the place of Spectrum. Look how they can kill APP in 3 easy steps. It only takes 4-5 years and a fully compliant rubber-stamping board (and a few evil administrators).

Do my words come from frustration and anger? Sure, that's what SPS does to rational people.

no name on this post said...

Braessae said After all, if the school atmosphere is poisonous because of a feud between principal and teachers, that is pretty damn relevant stuff to know before you put a kid there

Oh, were you at Lowell last year? (wink)

Funny -- the "school reports" were supposed to be all about accountability and shining lights in dark places, and empowering parents to make sure that their kids went to "really excellent" schools -- but now that it may bite the administration/principals -- well, whoops -- cant have the public knowing about the results of school climate surveys, right?

So what ever happened to the Lowell climate reports after all the fights about who was supposed to collect them, who got to see them in the building, and who got to deliver them. My guess is they all disappeared into a mysterious abyss.