Last night was interesting because the Board meeting was split into halves; one half the shiny and prepped TFA folks and the other side ...the rest of us. What was interesting is that TFA seemed to only want to clap when TFA folks spoke while the rest of us knew the (polite) drill and clapped for everyone. You notice these things when you've been to a lot of these meetings.
I'll just go over the speaker testimony and do a separate thread on the latter half of the meeting.
The first speaker, as always, was a group from one our high schools, this time Franklin. The young man gave an impassioned rap/poem (and I'll contrast this "passion" later with the "passion" that was alleged to have been shown by Kenneth Maldonado, a TFA sub at South Shore). This young man was not emotional but allowed his feelings to show through his words and tempo and expression in his voice. He spoke about being a student and learning. One line stuck with me, "Never allow negativity to stick needles into our hearts and minds." Bravo.
Carol Simmons, a long-time educator and social justice activist in our district (way longer than me) spoke next. Speaking about TFA, she pointed out that Socrates and Plato were not young at the height of their teaching powers. She also asked the Board what other measures they were using to close the achievement gap besides TFA.
One TFA speaker talked about TFA as a "leadership pipeline for education" and said there were 45 studies underway about TFA.
One theme seemed to be how much they felt they contributed as teachers. This is great but honestly, I'll bet every new teacher believes they have contributed greatly to their classrooms. I'm not sure this is a selling point for TFA. Another theme is how they would all love their kids to have a TFA teacher. I think that's fine but 1) no one gets to choose their child's teacher and 2) TFA doesn't like schools to tell parents their teacher is TFA. It's interesting how much pride they have in the organization but it's to be kept from the parents of the children they teach.
Chris Jackins pointed out that a couple of the incumbents, when they previously ran, had said they would be "adverse" to selling district properties but got on the Board and changed their minds. (Chris takes extensive notes - I'll believe him when he says that's what was stated.)
There was also a TFAer named Emma Hong who I recognized (I think) as a former teacher at Eckstein who was well thought of there. Sheba, another former TFAer, stated that she didn't go into her classroom after five weeks of training thinking she knew how to teach. That's quite a statement given that the children in the classroom and their parents all expected to have a teacher who DID have that belief.
Then the Ex Director for the Puget Sound TFA spoke and said a couple of interesting things. She said that their TFA recruits had gone out in the community and met parents but I was confused about how they did this. She didn't explain. She also said they wanted to "proactively address the achievement gap" again, whatever that means. And again, no proof that TFA has ever done that in any school or any district.
Then we had Mr. Maldonado. Watch the tape. I'm not sure about his ability to string two sentences together. He got very teary talking about his work with a non-profit that helped homeless people and that it changed his mind and he decided to work "in the education sector." I thought that was an interesting choice of words for someone so worked up emotionally. He didn't say teacher which would have been the obvious thing.
A co-president from Garfield got up next to talk about the capacity issues there. He said that this year started MUCH more smoothly than last year. He said they had 25 new staff and it was a credit to the administration that they all got off to a good start. (That's a lot of new staff.) He said the enrollment was at 1740 instead of 1800 like last year BUT that the school had been built for 1650 and they felt it should be that size. He asked them to consider a cap on enrollment at Garfield.
What a kettle of fish that would be. Good luck with that.
Then we had the principal of South Shore, Keisha Scarlett. Here's where it got tricky and the Board tossed their so-called testimony protocol out the window. She go up and talked extensively about hiring Mr. Maldonado. She mentioned he was her daughter's teacher, that his "missionary zeal" was why TFA should be in SPS, that there were 98 applicants for the job, that he "knocked the socks off" the hiring committee and that the average length of time those applicants had taught was one year so he was "in the range."
Having little to no experience teaching is NOT in the range of one year of teaching.
My real issue is that at the beginning of the Board meeting, Steve Sundquist explains the rules of testimony. They are up on the screen during the entire time that testimony is given. One of the rules is
"no comments on personnel matters."
Ms Scarlett broke that rule several times and yet President Sundquist said absolutely nothing. I can only assume that those "rules" are guidelines and now the door is open for ALL to comment on personnel matters including hiring committees. I was quite dumbfounded that he allowed her to continue in this vein but fine, now we know.
SEA President Olga Addae spoke about the Series 5000 Board policies and made an observation that Charlie often makes; it doesn't matter WHAT a policy states if the policy is not upheld.
SEA Vice-President Jonathan Knapp explained that conditional certification was for shortages (there are none in Seattle) or people with exception abilities (none shown so far). He explained that is why there was a vote of no confidence in Steve Sundquist. I would say that makes sense if the Board knows what the reasons are that a conditional certification can be used and then went against those reasons.
The other thing that struck me is that I think the TFA folks thought there was going to be some mass uprising against the conditional certs (which there wasn't). The district already hired some TFA folks so, to me, the horse is already out of the barn. I certainly disagree with that action but what can be done at this point except to point out, as I did, that the district should not try to get any more people in via the sub pool and then say "oh they're already there better keep them" and have the busy principals say, "whatever."
If they DO end up doing that, well, I certainly would expect to see ALL current subs hired full-time because otherwise that would look like favoritism.