Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Seattle School Board Meeting - My Testimony Tonight


About TFA – what a long, strange trip it has been.  It seems apparent at this point that our former superintendent didn’t have any real donors lined up – she just assumed they would materialize.  Another in the long list of mistakes she made.

It’s good to have that settled except that the press release doesn’t make it clear whether Seattle Foundation is paying for two years or one.  I tried to get confirmation from Communications but they said they didn’t know and I should ask the Foundation and I have been trying with no success.  It might be good to iron out that point.

One delicate issue is that the Seattle Foundation named several donors.    Among them are two that have contributed heavily to the campaigns of the directors running for reelection.

I would just gently point out that it is one thing to have campaign supporters who you know care about particular issues or programs.  It’s another thing altogether to have campaign supporters who not only care about a program, but are paying for the program to be in the district.

You have to be your own best ethical judge but it gives me pause.

On a separate issue, I sent you all a copy of an e-mail I sent today to Mr. English, the district’s legal counsel.   He had stated at a committee meeting that there was some confusion over where $20M was from the sale of several district properties.

Mr. English let me know that (1) the money is in one of two places and (2) there will be a status report at the Audit and Finance meeting in October and a full accounting in November. 

He was unable to answer my question about whether the regular payment on the albatross that is this building is going to happen on time.  My understanding is that the CEP fund is where that payment money comes from and the likely place the proceeds from any property sales would have gone. 

Now I’m not a Board member but if I were,  and there was ANY question about where $20M of taxpayer dollars had gone, I wouldn’t be waiting until the second week of October to find out where it was.  And I certainly wouldn’t wait until November for a full accounting.

If we learned anything from the last school year, it is to NOT take anyone’s word that something is done unless you, yourselves, see it happen.  This is not disrespecting anyone’s work or saying they are being less than truthful – it is your fiduciary duty as a director.

We hear a lot of talk about accountability and transparency.  We hear that the district has learned much from the state audits.  We hear that there are systems and checks and balances in place so we don’t have these kinds of missteps.

I would get out ahead of this one if I were you.  You owe it to the students of this district and the taxpayers of this city.  That money needs to be accounted for by next week, not next month or the month after.  

End of statement
CEP = Capital Eligible Projects - a separate fund that keeps the money from sale/rental/lease of properties and investment earnings.  It allows for a variety of capital projects, initiatives, etc. that typically aren't covered in levies. 

There were several donors to the Seattle Foundation TFA fund.  Three of them,  Matt Griffin, Evelyn Rozner and James Faulstich, have contributed heavily to all the incumbents' campaigns.  (To point out, the average campaign contribution is usually between $25-100.)

Mr. Griffin gave Maier and Sundquist $1K each and Carr and Martin-Morris, $2k each.

Ms. Rozner gave Carr and Martin-Morris each $2k and Sundquist $1k.

Mr. Faulstich gave Carr, Martin-Morris and Sundquist each $250.

Peter Maier has the largest campaign fund at $37k, followed by Sundquist at $28k, Harium at $22k and Carr at $20k.  

All of the challengers are well under $10K except for Michelle Buetow who is at $13k.   

More than 50% of Sherry Carr's campaign has come from 10 people/households including Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife. 

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

"It seems apparent at this point that our former superintendent didn’t have any real donors lined up – she just assumed they would materialize. Another in the long list of mistakes she made."

Susan Enfield, not MGJ, was the TFA district point person. The emails made it clear that TFA was barely on MGJ's radar.

Enfield also promised what she didn't deliver at the last board meeting. If there were no donors lined up, Enfield is at fault for a lie.

Invoking the ghost of MGJ might be a good way to establish rapport among uneasy bedfellows at the meeting, but the facts don't fit here.

--TFA is Enfield's baby

WenD said...
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WenD said...
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WenD said...

Mel, I appreciate that you are listening to those who feel the message here is sometimes hard to listen to, but please don't feel you have to obscure the reality of the work you do: investigate, question, and expose. It's too bad that reality isn't always nice, or that the truth in question isn't constantly twisted.

The current board didn't see a conflict when Maria Goodloe-Johnson sat on the MAP board and signed a contract for their test. Do most of rest of us think this is a conflict? Based on countless comments, YES.

Susan Enfield's handling of honest TFA questions has been dishonest. You can't describe it any other way. Without any other explanation offered, I think it's clear that she's been dishonest because she was hiding an obvious conflict of interest until the deal was done.

Reality hurts if you don't want to hear it. That's all I can say about those who've complained about the tone on this blog. There's tone, which is a subjective thing to behold in this format, and then there's honest disagreement based on airing of facts.

You and others are doing tireless work. You don't stand back because you're afraid your sensibilities will be offended. Our school district is being taken away from us. There isn't a NICE way to say this. The donors with money aren't coming forward and defending their access based on facts. If they did, Enfield wouldn't have to dodge the facts and hide their involvement. I'm comfortable saying she lied.

Change when necessary, based on fact. That's all I want.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Actually, I was told this was the case about MGJ and the donors.

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

it may not be illegal for a person to donate to a board directors campaign, and also fund TFA which that same board director has to vote to allow or not allow in our district, but it sure is slimy. At the very least I think it is a huge conflict of interest. If I were a board director and found myself in that position I think I would abstain from voting.

Something doesn't have to be illegal for it to be really slimy.

Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Yes, but how long has MGJ been gone now? Why did Enfield act like there were donors in the wings that she would reveal after the approval of the TFAers?

In other words, why wasn't Enfield transparent? Why did she mislead?

--the buck stops with Enfield on this one

StopTFA said...

I agree that, for once, MGJ is not the culprit. There was a "gentleman's agreement", so to speak, that fees would not be a problem. When they DID become a problem, the CYA began in earnest (CYA-cover your *ss).

Does this make a difference to the majority on the board that will rubberstamp this hot mess. Doubt it. Still, what can we do but express our outrage that rich folks drive "policy".

What kills me is the continued effective of emotional entreaties, particularly Mr. Maldonaldo's, who apparently had no problem with having folk stand up an plead his case. IF I HAD MENTIONED HIS NAME, I'm sure President Sundquist would have admonished me accordingly.

StopTFA said...

And don't get me started on TFA's grand poohbah of Research from Stanford. All about the scientific approach, that X number studies are looking at TFA as we speak. OMG! As a numbers type from Stanford myself, I'd say that is a freakin' waste of research dollars. Spend it on support, tutoring, PROVEN methods to close the achievement gap.

Sitting across from TFA's token rainbow coalition, I must say that I would love to challenge them to an arm wrestle. Do I sound emotional? Hell Yes! What a bunch of idealistic lightweights! Sorry, reminds me of Gary Locke, famous son of immigrants, full of sound of fury signifying nothing.

If Mr. Maldonado and Co. want to help the unfortunate so much, WTH is wrong with Alternative Route 3? Huh, Alt rte 3? is right. That rte does not involve being "teacher of record" with little experience. Oh yeah, the problem is they don't get the deferments, scholarships, job offers Kopp and Co. can rustle up with a call to Congress or two.

Whatever. TFA and SPS would not have flown in the Rainbow Coalition but for the damage public disclosure has done to their standard way of doing business...

StopTFA said...

New profile pic

Anonymous said...

Never fear, TFA Sucks! These particularly gaudy, American touchy feely moments don't last for long. They are just Hallmark Card moments.

The board elections are around the corner, SEA has voted "No Confidence" in Steve Sundquist
and the truth about Susan Enfield's character has surfaced during this debacle.

--you can call a pig "Princess" but it's still a pig

dan dempsey said...

So how did the TfA vote turn out?

Who voted Yes? and any NO's or were there abstentions?

======
(end of testimony)
To approve tonight’s TfA action report will require the Board claim a careful review has been performed, when nothing could be further from the truth.

..... Low Income students deserve teachers with full certification. The Superintendent has failed to tell the truth … the Board should not join her in this TfA deception.

seattle citizen said...

Six "ayes";
One abstention (Director Patu)

StopTFA said...

Go figure.

dan dempsey said...

So I'll need to watch the meeting video to see what happened to Director DeBell's concern about the Supreme court and speech and Big Money driving Board actions and policy.

Years ago my dad told me "you can't beat city hall".

Guess he was preparing me for the School Board that ignores state law.

someone said...

Wait - they don't know what happened to $20 million!!!???? 20 million???!!! Seriously? Wow just wow...

dan dempsey said...

Little wonder the Directors do not wish to talk about the requirement for a careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps....

Especially to recently spend $800,000 on HS math Textbooks and $400,000 on Professional Development ... lose an appeal in Superior Court .. get that over turned in appeals court .... and then get the results below:

 all :: LowIncome ::

71.8% :: 59.4% == Roosevelt

60.8% :: 57.6% == Shadle Park
53.9% :: 56.6% == Franklin

56.5% :: 55.0% == Ferris
56.7% :: 46.7% == North Central
60.4% :: 45.3% == Lewis & Clark
46.1% :: 43.7% == Cleveland

53.2% :: 42.0% == Ballard

44.3% :: 41.0% == Rogers
56.4% :: 31.7% == Nathan Hale
30.7% :: 29.9% == Garfield

35.5% :: 28.2% == West Seattle
30.4% :: 23.2% == Chief Sealth

36.0% :: 17.9% == Ingraham

7.4% :: 8.5% == Rainier Beach HS



The above list shows pass rates on the End of Course Algebra test EoC#1 for students who took an algebra class in 2010-2011. Column 1 is the pass rate for all students and Column 2 is for low income students. In Seattle low income students are 43% of the population in Spokane it is 55%.

This list is ranked in order by low income student pass rate.

Notice the position of each of Spokane's 5 high schools on the list.

So President Sundquist please tell us about the careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps. When did it happen? and what was found?

Please explain your continued support for a pathetic math program.

Anonymous said...

STOP TFA,

You must indeed be mad for writing this: "Sitting across from TFA's token rainbow coalition, I must say that I would love to challenge them to an arm wrestle. Do I sound emotional? Hell Yes! What a bunch of idealistic lightweights! Sorry, reminds me of Gary Locke, famous son of immigrants, full of sound of fury signifying nothing."

I would be considered part of that "rainbow coalition" just from my appearance, but I would not want to be lump together as if I have no mind of my own. It maybe a casual phrasing that shouldn't offend, but I tell you the constant pejorative use of it goes beyond annoying.

Please ,I would ask you to defer from thinking just because there are different hues present mean we have no free will to think and act on our own unless told by our "betters".

- a different bird

Maureen said...

Video of the School Board Meeting is up now. It seems to me they are getting it up quicker these days. I wonder who to thank?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of a different bird and one who should not be taken for granted is Board member, Director Patu. I am thankful to have her represent us in this district.

-a different bird

dan dempsey said...

On the video ....

OMG -- Watch Peter Maier at 1:25 +
He mentions a whole raft of stuff that he considered... but the law is NOT one of the things he mentions. He mentions a wide achievement gap but nothing about the careful review of all options to closing the achievement gaps.

1:29+ KSB no mention of state law and no mention of any careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps -- Yet she sees no reason not to move forward with hiring these two persons.

1:32 Carr speaks of Peter Maier doing a nice job of describing the process I went through. Achievement gap is not improving .. I do not see TfA as an overall strategy for closing the achievement gap. but it is a legitimate tactic in pursuing closing the achievement gaps. {{So if this is not an overall strategy for closing the achievement gaps .. hum??? what about the law?}}

Where there were issues that were raised they have been addressed. -- {{Well not the issue of the violation of the state law raised by several in testimony.... WOW Great job of ignoring testimony and the Law}}

1:33:30 Harium Martin-Morris this is the right thing to do and that is why I am supporting this action..... WOW he has no use for state law either.

134:30 DeBell ... I believe that all the components of the contract are in order. {{He makes no mention of State law either.}} Ultimately we are talking about five teachers I think this is a valuable experiment and a reasonable one to pursue. .... Goes on about the leading edge and a passionate young man while never mentioning State Law or the required careful review.

137:30 Sunquist .. also completely ignores state law and testimony. So he will support the action.

=========
So why would anyone vote for directors that ignore testimony and the state law?

Six Directors made a decision NOT to respond to testimony about state law .... and to ignore the requirements of state law by voting for this action.
=========

All directors take an oath of office to support the constitution and laws of WA State.... we clearly have 6 directors who do not do this. .... Oligarchy is established and republic is gone.

A distinguishing characteristic of a republic is that the law applies to everyone and is used.

dan dempsey said...

Sherry Carr said:
I do not see TfA as an overall strategy for closing the achievement gap. but it is a legitimate tactic in pursuing closing the achievement gaps.

So does the district have an overall strategy for closing the achievement gaps?

Apparently NOT.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dan, I note that TFA has now gone from being a "strategy" in closing the achievement gap to a "tactic." What's interesting is that TFA has never done this in any verifiable way but they still say it will help.

StopTFA said...

a different bird

Yes I was/am MAD! As a Jesse Jackson delegate to the state convention in 1988, I'm nearly a founding member of the real thing. TFA has a thing about making token appearances and pulling the emotional heartstrings. They send broadcast emails to their alumni network, exhorting them to come out and win another one for the Kopper. Their researcher made a point to mention their "leadership pipeline" last night (like Rhee?). These leaders of tomorrow are the Gary Lockes of today.

I applaud you if you are former TFA and do not participate in the groupthink. You may well be in the minority.

Dora Taylor said...

I would suggest channeling the anger and frustration that all of us feel in terms of this vote into getting the school board challengers elected.

They need our support whether it's foot power, getting the word out to neighbors and friends about who they should vote for and of course all of the challengers can use donations.

It's time to get rid of these folks and move on out of the shadow of G-J and all of her whacked ideas and ways of "managing".

dan dempsey said...

The District is increasingly less and less interested in responding to questions raised by the public. In fact the district is actively marginalizing input.

At one point in time there were a few tables available for the public to use. Last night 8 tables were reserved for SPS occupancy by the district and the public had one.

In the Carla Santorno era, I once made posters to place on the walls that contained a data display. I was not allowed to use "Painters tape" to hold them up. As a result my adhesive failed and these posters wound up in a pile.

Last night I came with Student performance data from Auburn and Seattle to place on the walls and was equipped with both "Painter's Tape" and a supply of poster wall putty. I was told that placing posters is not appropriate for a Board meeting and is not allowed. I could only place my materials on the one table available.

StopTFA said...

Sorry for my pejorative tone. My blood runs hot!

Here, I changed my picture. Hope this helps make amends... : )

dan dempsey said...

Ron English speaks at 115:45

I've been asked to speak to four issues that have been raised in correspondence to the Board.....

Why was Mr. English not asked to speak to the legality of the Board's failure to perform a careful review of all options for closing the achievement gap and yet proceeding with a Conditional Certification application.

These Directors certainly received more than one email from me .... I guess my submissions do not meet the standard of being worthy of any reply.

dan dempsey said...

Melissa said:

I note that TFA has now gone from being a "strategy" in closing the achievement gap to a "tactic." What's interesting is that TFA has never done this in any verifiable way but they still say it will help.

Shhhhh.... quiet ....

The Board members still believe in Fairy-tales.

Charlie Mas said...

Director Carr's review of the steps the district leadership has taken since the bad audit troubled me deeply. Nearly everything she said was untrue or skewed to create a false impression.

I'm going to have to review her presentation closely and provide commentary point-by-point to make my meaning clear, so it's something I'll have to do this weekend (if I get time), but I'm really motivated to do it.

If I can get it done today or tomorrow I may try to share it with her at her Saturday community meeting.

Her whole talk was deeply, deeply troubling. Does she really believe that they have made an appropriate and adequate response to the audit? Does she really think that they have moved with due urgency? Does she really think that they have fostered a "culture of compliance"?

dan dempsey said...

Does she really think that they have fostered a "culture of compliance"?

Hard to foster a culture of compliance while ignoring State laws and public testimony. .... Sherry is a good role model for oligarchs.

Where is my republic?

Anonymous said...

No worries Stop TFA. I suspect if we ever meet face to face, we may find we have more in common that this exchange. I like both your avatars, though the cuddly kitten is very beguiling and sometimes you have to enchant a little to get what you want.

I'm not a TFA supporter. For me, the confusion of CEP fund is more troubling.

The post that Mr. Mas opened up for diverse voices was telling. There are many of us who have been silent and are looking for more than a change of board members. We are looking for alternatives outside of SSD. I think it is because after so many years, so many Superintendants, living through the revolving seat of Board directors, and the churn this blog documents so well, the status quo is still strong and remains obdurate.

Many of you here have written quite exhaustively to identify problems this district faces and provide solutions to fix them. Little improvement here and there, but overall we are no better off as a district.

- a different bird

StopTFA said...

Agreed.

Bird said...

Wait - they don't know what happened to $20 million!!!???? 20 million???!!! Seriously? Wow just wow...

What's the story on the $20 million?

Did I miss a previous post on this subject?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bird, I'll write in a separate thread but the issue is that at two different committee meetings, it came up that some money from the sale of district properties appears to be, well, misplaced.

I asked about this and Ron English, legal counsel, stated it was in one of two places. As I told the Board, at my house, that's like saying, it's in the attic or the basement.

There seems to be some concern because (a) it's not clear where those funds are and (b) that how we are paying off the headquarters and is there going to be an issue with the next payment (around $2M).

That they cannot definitively state where the money is should give us pause and realize that all the systems and structures they are putting into place are still not quite there.

Mr. English said they would have an answer at the next committee meeting in October with a full accounting in November.

From where I sit and based on the past history over the last year in the district, not good enough.

The money should be accounted for sooner than that and if it can't, someone better 'fess up.

Yes, I did tell the State Auditor.

Bird said...

Perhaps you'll put this in your thread.

But the obvious question is, what is the board's reaction on this?

Was it ho-hum, sure, we'll figure it in November? Or was it let's light a fire under the staff and get this sorted now?

Also, the next obvious question is where is the trailing press on this (i.e. the Times and KUOW).

If it's even in question, given the track record in the district, the news media needs to get on this now.

Does pushing the full accounting out to November benefit the Board incumbants?
Is that intentional?

dan dempsey said...

"Many of you here have written quite exhaustively to identify problems this district faces and provide solutions to fix them. Little improvement here and there, but overall we are no better off as a district."

- a different bird
=================

As long as directors continue with the usual MO of refusing to intelligently apply relevant data to improve the system, there will be a continuation of "little improvement" and the district remaining in a less than satisfactory condition.

Given the SAO's reports and the Board actions ... if any of the four directors up for reelection are reelected.... Seattle voters could well be the stupidest in America.

dan dempsey said...

The "Legal" Ball has been passed to OSPI decision-makers,
My letter of 9-22-2011 ==>
----

Dear Educational Decision-makers Supt. Dorn, Ms. Jones, and Mr. Kanikeberg,

The Law on application for Conditional Certificates and Limited Certificates was clearly not satisfied when the seattle School Directors with 6 affirmative votes moved to request conditional certificates for two teach for America members on 9-21-2011.

WAC 181-79A-231 was completely ignored by the board and legal counsel Ron English.
Emails were sent to the Board that contained significant data. Testimony was given on 9-21-2011 on the law.
The District has failed to respond to any of it.

The Video for 9-21-2011 is now available at:
http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/watchVideos.asp?program=schools

In regard to achievement gaps and this request for conditional certification consider the following:

Dr Carol Simmons testimony at: 8:10
Dan Dempsey testimony at: 29:25
Sea VP Jonathan Knapp at: 51:45

The Board evades the legality issue in total. In fact statements made by six directors show this to be an experiment and not in anyway considered to be an overall strategy for closing the achievement gaps.

----- A guide to directors statements on video=>

On the video ....

OMG -- Watch Peter Maier at 1:25 +
He mentions a whole raft of stuff that he considered... but the law is NOT one of the things he mentions. He mentions a wide achievement gap but nothing about the careful review of all options to closing the achievement gaps.

1:29+ KSB no mention of state law and no mention of any careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps -- Yet she sees no reason not to move forward with requesting conditional certification for the hiring these two persons.

1:32 Carr speaks of Peter Maier doing a nice job of describing the process she went through. Achievement gap is not improving .. "I do not see TfA as an overall strategy for closing the achievement gap, but it is a legitimate tactic in pursuing closing the achievement gaps." {{So if this is not an overall strategy for closing the achievement gaps .. hum??? what about the law? what about the requirement for a careful review of all options?}}

Sherry states "Where there were issues that were raised they have been addressed." -- {{Well not the issue of the violation of the state law raised by several in testimony.... Sherry does a great job of ignoring testimony and the Law}}

1:33:30 Harium Martin-Morris this is the right thing to do and that is why I am supporting this action..... Harium has no use for state law either.

134:30 DeBell ... I believe that all the components of the contract are in order. {{He makes no mention of State law either.}} Ultimately we are talking about five teachers I think this is a valuable experiment and a reasonable one to pursue. .... Goes on about the leading edge and a passionate young man while never mentioning State Law or the required careful review.

dan dempsey said...

The law does not sanction conditional certification for "valuable experiments".

137:30 Sunquist .. also completely ignores state law and testimony. So he will support the action.

=========

Six Directors made a decision NOT to respond to testimony about state law .... and to ignore the requirements of state law by voting for this action. In fact the Board had legal counsel Ron English address legal issues ... yet he ignored the emails and testimony in regard to the legal requirements of WAC 181-79A-231. He did not in any way address the requirements of WAC 181-79A-231.
Ron English's video is at 115:45
=========

All directors take an oath of office to support the constitution and laws of WA State.... we clearly have 6 directors who do not do this. ....

A distinguishing characteristic of a republic is that the law applies to everyone and it is used.
It is the duty of OSPI to apply the law in this case.
THE SEATTLE SCHOOLS have NOT satisfied the legal requirements that would allow OSPI to grant conditional certification in this case.
========
....

...


...
Sincerely,
Dan Dempsey

Jan said...

- a different bird:

I would love to hear more of your thoughts. Here is what I wonder (and am concerned about) -- charter schools. There are (as I see it, at least) two main impetuses (impeti?) for charters. One is the ed reform group -- which makes no bones about what it is doing -- bring in the big, national entities -- KIPP, Green Dot, etc. -- layer up the administration with for profit "charter management organizations," etc. -- and force the public sector to channel their capital assets (school buildings) and tax dollars to them -- in exchange for education done "their way" -- lots of testing, lots of suspensions/expulsions/quiet sendings away of kids who don't fit their model, uniforms, extended hours, paring away of arts, creativity, sports, etc. -- and ALL controlled by the big ed organizations. Parents can volunteer and give money -- but they have no say in curriculum, policies, admissions criteria, teacher retention, etc. It's like choosing between Chase and Wells Fargo as a bank. Yep. You have choice! But -- not so much, really.

The OTHER model is a very "from the bottom up" model -- more like what Trish Dziko is doing with TAF. It would involve a community school, with a local board, or site council, or whatever, and much more community control of what the school looks like and does. It is, in fact much more like our alt school models -- but would be more like alt schools with an MOU that is a real contract (as opposed to a bunch of Board policies that get blatantly ignored). At its extreme, it would permit wholesale replacement of policies and procedures (including those governing teacher work rules and salaries). But I think it should preclude the big, for profit charter orgs (and their managment handlers). The problems are numerous -- including -- where will you get the management expertise, once you leave the district? Can you run such a school without extra money (South Shore and TT Minor had Sloan and other sources of extra money). And where to draw the line between local control and SOME sort of civic oversight, given that tax dollars and public assets are beting used?

What I DO know, though, is that the Ed Reform crowd would LOVE to have people just throw up their hands, demand charters, and welcome in the big for profit charter companies. That is part of their strategy -- I can hear them snickering in the bushes with anticipation every time the topic is broached.

They are thrilled, frankly, when "public" schools flounder -- because it drives families straight into their waiting arms.

Cont'd

Jan said...

Washington had the good sense to "pass" on the first rounds of charterization/privatization of public schools. The verdict is in -- many take all our money, cherry pick which kids they will teach, remove all local control -- and then deliver a WORSE product. They win (because they make money on the deal). We, and our kids, lose. Of the minority that don't actually do WORSE, many do no better -- again, do we want to forgo the ability to have any say in our kids schools -- give them to for profit educators, if the educational outcome is no better?

It is like saying -- school cafeteria food is not very good -- why can't we get better, food -- and being told "great! We will give you options! Here they are -- McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy's. They now "have your money" and have built on school property. You can have whatever they sell. And now that the contracts are signed and they have "invested" -- good luck changing your mind.

Do I think it would be possible to come up with a charter arrangement that resulted in better outcomes? Yes -- but it would be very hard. There is a huge amount of "for profit, ed reform weight" pushing on the other side of that door. IF we turn the knob and open it a crack, can we withstand the push? I worry that we won't be able to -- partly because they will not be honest about the quality of the product that they offer, or its price (both in dollars and in kids excluded) -- and we know from the present and recent past that they have lots of friends in high political places who will help them spin their stories.

dan dempsey said...

Jan == nicely communicated. ... Alts seem preferable ... but MGJ was an Alt killer ... and Enfield is no better.... Look at her refusal of a Singapore Math waiver at Loyal Heights...

Until a much better board arrives (if ever), Stuck applies.

seattle citizen said...

Jan, you write that
"[a potential non-"reform" charter] would involve a community school, with a local board, or site council, or whatever, and much more community control of what the school looks like and does. It is, in fact much more like our alt school models -- but would be more like alt schools with an MOU that is a real contract (as opposed to a bunch of Board policies that get blatantly ignored). At its extreme, it would permit wholesale replacement of policies and procedures."

As I've written numerous times (pardon me for that!) I don't understand how a public district, with its policies, can just cut loose a school(s) by "charter."

Public schools, public money, public policy, elected Directors...Yet the notion seems to be that it is okay to NOT be part of the policies.

How does that work?

If duly elected Directors make policy on curriculum, labor, buildings etc, then hey, that's the policy WE taxpayers and voters voted on through our Directors. Why would a school be enabled to "branch out," not be subject to those policies?

By what legal foundation does such a thing stand? Yes, an MOU or charter might say, "you don't have to meet Policy X and Procedure Y," but why? Isn't the whole idea of a public school system to tax the public, provide policy and teachers etc?

As a taxpayer and a voter, I expect that the Directors will Direct: ALL schools will be under policy.

Policy can be written to allow community schools (heck, the community school model should be applied to ALL schools); why would my Board, in essence, give away that accountability and responsibity to another entity? I didn't pay taxes so they can be given to someone outside of District policy; I expect my Directors to be accountable for every iota of policy and funding.

Charters aren't necessary. Good policy, and the following of that policy, is. It might be true that there are bad policies and even those might not be followed, but would someone in favor of the charter model then expect a Board that doesn't make good policy or follow it to responsibily delegate and oversee operations, etc, to some outside operator?

If the policy-makers aren't making policy and enforcing it, how can I, as a taxpayer/voter, trust them to make some MOU or charter that gives away even more responsibility?

Anything a charter can do a "regular" public can do. If the regular schools can't, why then just change the policies.

seattle citizen said...

In other words, Jan, you write:
"[a non-"reform" charter] would be more like alt schools with an MOU that is a real contract (as opposed to a bunch of Board policies that get blatantly ignored)."

So a board that doesn't follow policy would be expected to write MOUs or charters? Who, then would enforce the MOUs and charters?

These are MY schools, and yours, ALL schools are governed by OUR policies. If the board can't even enforce these, then the answer is NOT to let that same board write "contracts" to let others do whatever with even LESS accountability to me, the public in public schools.

NLM said...

Why should a school be enabled to "branch out," not be subject to those policies?" Maybe because they don't work? If a regular school could do everything a good charter can, why don't they? What's the hold up?

The board in our old district didn't write charters either. Charter proposals were developed by outside groups and presented to the board for review/comment/approval/disapproval. Not all were approved or renewed and limits were set on the number of charters in operation at any given time. Charter laws vary by state so having a charter school in a district does not necssarily mean that the district gives up all oversigh responsibilities or control.

Dorothy Neville said...

I was at that A&F committee meeting about the "missing" 20 million and your version is not anywhere near what actually happened. In fact, Ron English was not there. So did he bring it up in Ops or something? If so, he confused it all. The money is not missing.

I will write something longer and more coherent about it if you would like, but not now. It is very late and I am up only waiting for the ibuprofen to kick in. My feet are aching and I couldn't sleep. Not surprising since I walked from Stevens to Snoqualmie on the PCT. Started last Sunday and got home today. Wednesday night while y'all were at the school board meeting, I was camped on Escondido Ridge, watched the sun set and saw the milky way.