Saturday, August 27, 2011

Updates on This Week's Threads

I got some feedback from a couple of readers about my thread, Why TFA is Dangerous for our District, about not redacting the name of the candidate that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and Wendy Kopp, head of TFA, were discussing.

I understand those readers reasoning but I also reason that if it was a personnel matter, SPS should have redacted it.  I also believe, from reading the e-mails, that the person was actively involved in discussions and so likely knew his name was being discussed.  We can agree to disagree on this point.

However, I will be writing to Ron English, General Counsel, on this issue of redaction.  I feel I should let Mr. English know about them so that if there was an error, it can be corrected in any public disclosure documents going forward.

Also, over at The Stranger, they have called the Position 3 challenger win for Michelle Buetow.  I have to agree. I have been tracking the results every day and the gap between Michelle and John Dunn (about 176 votes) has not budged.  As I previously reported, at a 150 vote difference AND less than a quarter point difference, a recount would occur.

By the final day (August 31), it is possible that Michelle's vote count could remain the same and John's close the gap of 24 votes to get to that 150 vote trigger but I doubt it will happen at this point.

The other analysis I will make is that in the early days after August 16th, it seemed that the votes favored most incumbents (save Sherry Carr who continues to slowly drop).  But all this week, any additional votes seem to favor the challengers.  This is quite striking in Position 6 where Marty McLaren's total, as well as challenger Joy Anderson's, slowly rose.

In all races but Position 1, the combined totals of just the top two challengers would beat the incumbent.  In Position 1, the combined totals of the top two challengers are abut 48% with Peter Maier at 51%.  That would seem to be the closest race. 

Please use this thread to comment on Director Smith-Blum's community meeting if you attend it this morning.

25 comments:

Dorothy Neville said...

I thought you said that a recount trigger would be 150 votes AND less than quarter point difference. Michelle's lead has never dropped below a whole point. So there is no reason to expect a recount.

Melissa Westbrook said...

You're right; forgot that part. I'll correct it.

Sahila said...

I wouldnt feel bad about anything you've posted in relation to TFA and its hangers on/deform wannabes, Melissa...

see this:

TFA goes after teachers' unions in a new way

Dorothy Neville said...

In order to trigger a recount, the difference in votes would have to be closer to 40 votes. No new ballots arrived on Friday. No more than a handful will arrive next week.

Anonymous said...

It would have been a violation of the Pubic Records Act to redact Greg Wong's name from emails between DJG and a third party from whom she was asking to "spread the word" about a position for. What isn't subject to disclosure under the PRA is an actual job application or materials submitted with a job application. Remember, the PRA is read to be very broad and the exemptions for withhold read to be very narrow.

-Also works for a govt agency

Charlie Mas said...

I went to Kay Smith-Blum's community meeting today.

The District is going to have to spend the next two or three years un-doing the bad decisions made during the past three years.

They will need to re-open at least two and possibly three elementary schools in West Seattle.

They will need to re-open an elementary school in the Central area.

They will have to strengthen advanced learning programs that they have worked to dismantle.

They will have to strengthen alternative schools that they have worked to dismantle.

They will have to restore some diversity in the curriculum that they have standardized.

North-end elementary APP is going to have to be at Lincoln for at least two years (possibly longer) as they select and prepare a building for the program in the north-end. The top prospects are Wilson-Pacific (if the District doesn't need it as a middle school) and John Marshall - possibly as an APP 1-8.

The District will form an Advanced Learning Steering Committee - similar to the one they disbanded five years ago - just as they promised to do three years ago.

Lowell is standing half empty, but the District isn't apparently allowing students to enroll there. Or are they? It's unclear.

NOVA and S.B.O.C. will have to move out of Meany for at least a year (maybe two) as Meany is renovated. When the renovation is complete, only the S.B.O.C. will move back. NOVA will have to find another home. The top prospects are TT Minor (if the District doesn't need it as an elementary school) and the Mann Building.

As I wrote. The District is going to have to spend the next two or three years un-doing the bad decisions they made during the past three years. We need to replace the Board because assigning that work to the same people who made those bad decisions would be a bad decision.

zb said...

"Remember, the PRA is read to be very broad and the exemptions for withhold read to be very narrow."

Yup. Sometimes administrators try to push on keeping more info out of the request, but WA has a very broad public records law which has been solidly reinforced by the courts. Challenging attempts at keeping info closed have almost always been successful (with narrow exceptions). Agencies still try, resulting in more challenges, but the force of the law is not with them.

UW just made a big public records settlement in the "Baby Einstein" case, acquiescing to the release of the information and paying 100K + in settlement.

Those who work at public agencies need to be better educated about the laws on public records. E-mail has been a particular bugaboo, with people saying things in email without thinking about the fact that email is a searchable record (unlike talking with someone you've buttonholed at a conference).

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

At the meeting, what were the special education topics?

Reader

Anonymous said...

Charlie, when you present things in this way I am never sure if they are your conclusions or if (in this instance) KSB stated that this was the case. Did she say these things at her meeting? Or are you concluding this? Thanks!

Curious

Anonymous said...

Or rather, some things I can tell are you speaking, and some things I feel like may be things KSB said, but some I am not sure...

Curious

In the know..... said...

zb is right on. The District did not err in providing you the email without redacting the guys name. As you said in another post, Melissa, emails are public records (unless they involve giving or receiving legal advice). People should be mindful at all times about what they put in emails if they work for a govt agency, and also if you send an email to a govt agency (I should say "public agency" because many public agencies do not realize that they are governments as well). It could all end up on the front page of the newspaper.

Look at all those emails about the Pottergate issue. No one was complaining about lack of redaction then.

StopTFA said...

Here's a twist on the redaction issue. I requested the West E test results (P/F) for anyone who's indicated they'll be entering a UW alternative route program in the fall. I received six whole records with names redacted. The redactions were based on RCW 42.52.050 which reads, in part:

"A person's "right to privacy," "right of privacy," "privacy," or "personal privacy," as these terms are used in this chapter, is invaded or violated only if disclosure of information about the person: (1) Would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, and (2) is not of legitimate concern to the public."

First, whether a "teacher of record" in a high poverty/high minority school has demonstrated competence in the subject they are slated to teach is of legitimate concern to the public. So, even if it is "highly offensive" to a reasonable person (of which I'm obviously not one), the public has a legitimate concern particularly since the district apparently does not.

Maureen said...

Stop TFA, would the principal (and hiring committee?) know if the candidate had passed the West E?

Anonymous said...

The princpal can ask if somebody has taken and passed the West-E, and they do. The West-E isn't the only road to "highly qualified". And different states use different tests. Being around for a while, teaching in your subject area, will also earn you "highly qualified". Lots of candidates don't know whether or not they are "highly qualified" since HR bestows it on employees without their knowledge.

-on the interview team

StopTFA said...

On the interview team,

Now is a good time for those on hiring teams to know the criteria to hold those who apply for jobs at their school. For those at Title 1 schools and teaching core academic subjects:

(b) Teachers new to the profession. A teacher covered under §200.55 who is new to the profession also must—
(1) Hold at least a bachelor's degree; and
(2) At the public elementary school level, demonstrate, by passing a rigorous State test (which may consist of passing a State certification or licensing test), subject knowledge and teaching skills in reading/language arts, writing, mathematics, and other areas of the basic elementary school curriculum; or
(3) At the public middle and high school levels, demonstrate a high level of competency by—
(i) Passing a rigorous State test in each academic subject in which the teacher teaches (which may consist of passing a State certification or licensing test in each of these subjects); or
(ii) Successfully completing in each academic subject in which the teacher teaches—
(A) An undergraduate major;
(B) A graduate degree;
(C) Coursework equivalent to an undergraduate major; or
(D) Advanced certification or credentialing.

Washington State requires the West E if you do meet any under (ii).

HR does not "bestow" HQ on anyone. District HR is required to report to OSPI on teacher HQ data several times a year. They must answer specific questions relating to whether a teacher meets the NCLB definition of HQ. HR staff is derelict in its duty if it forwards a non-HQ applicant to school hiring teams, or improperly reports a teacher's status.

That Passionate Teacher said...

StopTFA,

The names were probably really redacted under FERPA (Family Education Right to Privacy Act). FERPA allows for broader protection of educational records than the Public Records act. Since subject of the search is educational (test results), they may have used FERPA as an excuse for the redaction.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the reason given for the redaction is a PRA exception, though technically it was not information disclosable under FERPA. But my question is did you make the PRA request to SPS or UW? If it was SPS, then if the West-E results were included in an employment application, they should not have been disclosed to you at all, even redacted.

-Also works for a govt agency

StopTFA said...

government agency worker,

The PDR was made to PESB, which along with OSPI, receives results from Pearson, the contractor for tests. I don't pretend to seek student data nor job applicant data. So the reference to a so-called "privacy" exemption is correct, the application is not however.

Anonymous said...

side note on Pearson:

Read "Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry" by Todd Farley, 2009

Hilarious and maddening.

He gets the (Bush brother) scam exactly right. I know. I was a grader.

-JC.

joanna said...

Charlie is basically restating the results of what KSB reported at her community meeting, not just his opinion.

Anonymous said...

Joanna and Charlie,
I find it odd that you should answer a question directed to Charlie.
I think Curious has a valid question. It is difficult to understand when reading Charlies post what was actually said by KSB at the meeting and what is his interpretation of what she meant.

For example, when I read "They will have to strengthen advanced learning programs that they have worked to dismantle". That statement sounds like an opinion. I would be surprised if KSB said the district was trying to dismantle a program. Did KSB actually say that at her meeting?

Mandy

Charlie Mas said...

I'll go point by point:

They will need to re-open at least two and possibly three elementary schools in West Seattle.

Kay said that.

They will need to re-open an elementary school in the Central area.

Kay said that they probably will. This is due to new housing built or planned in Belltown and Yesler Terrace.

They will have to strengthen advanced learning programs that they have worked to dismantle.

Kay said that they had to be strengthened and described how the Advanced Learning Steering Committee would be the place for those plans to be developed. She acknowledged some decay.

They will have to strengthen alternative schools that they have worked to dismantle.

Kay said that they had to be strengthened and described how the "Schools of Innovation" initiative would be the place for those plans to be developed. She acknowledged that Alternative Learning Policy has been neglected.

They will have to restore some diversity in the curriculum that they have standardized.

Kay said that. She said the "Schools of Innovation" initiative would be the place for those plans to be developed.

North-end elementary APP is going to have to be at Lincoln for at least two years (possibly longer) as they select and prepare a building for the program in the north-end. The top prospects are Wilson-Pacific (if the District doesn't need it as a middle school) and John Marshall - possibly as an APP 1-8.

Kay said that.

The District will form an Advanced Learning Steering Committee - similar to the one they disbanded five years ago - just as they promised to do three years ago.

Kay said that. I added the historical context that there was such a committee that was disbanded and that there was a promise to create such a committee two years ago.

Lowell is standing half empty, but the District isn't apparently allowing students to enroll there. Or are they? It's unclear.

Kay said that.

NOVA and S.B.O.C. will have to move out of Meany for at least a year (maybe two) as Meany is renovated. When the renovation is complete, only the S.B.O.C. will move back. NOVA will have to find another home. The top prospects are TT Minor (if the District doesn't need it as an elementary school) and the Mann Building.

Kay said that.

The idea that the District is going to have to spend the next two or three years un-doing the bad decisions they made during the past three years is my conclusion and summary. Kay did not say that. When I expressed this summary to her (after the meeting), she did not dispute it.

Hope that helped.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Charlie. That really did help, and is very interesting!

Curious

Anonymous said...

Charlie, you skipped the first point you made:

"The District is going to have to spend the next two or three years un-doing the bad decisions made during the past three years."

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Kay didn't say that. When Melissa asked for a report-out of the meeting, and you lead and close with a subjective interpretation of the data, it's natural that people are going to wonder what Kay said vs what is your interpretation of the meaning of what she said.

mom of 4 in sps

joanna said...

Yes, I suppose Charlie did state an opinion/summary but one that was so obvious, that he didn't have to spin it even a little.