Wednesday, September 21, 2011

TFA Fights Back

I was wondering where local TFA was all this time.

We'll find out out tonight's School Board meeting as it looks like at least five people who signed up to speak are TFA.  One, Lindsay Hill, is the executive director of TFA in the Puget Sound area, and another is one of the teachers hired for SPS, Kenneth Maldonado. 

I note that there are still four places left on the speakers list.

I also note that the action item for the conditional certifications has changed under Alternatives:

Do not authorize application for conditional certificates for these candidates.  This is not
recommended as these candidates have been through the school-based hiring process and were
recommended by the school-based team to be hired.  Failure to authorize a conditional certificate
would result in a school-based decision to hire a particular person being overturned. 
Furthermore, failure to authorize will require a new hiring process, which could result in
disruption to the classrooms and schools where these candidates are already teaching. classrooms
not having teachers on the first day.  (The blue part is the change and the red is the old wording.)

This is precisely the argument we expected to see about changing any of the subs (and I suspect many are TFA but we'll find out soon).  

The timeline has changed as well:

These two candidates will be in the classrooms as substitutes pending approval of their
conditional certificates by OSPI.  Approval by OSPI has been taking approximately 3-5 days, so
it is expected that their conditional certificate would be granted by the end of the second week of
school.beginning of October.  


Is October really 3-5 days away?  Just asking.

This should be interesting.  

79 comments:

dan dempsey said...

So why doesn't the Action Report say:

A request for conditional certification will require the Board to pretend that a careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps has taken place.

The Law states: The professional educator standards board encourages in all cases the hiring of fully certificated individuals and understands that districts will employ individuals with conditional certificates only after careful review of all other options.

==========
Look for lots of TfA anecdotes tonight. Watch how many directors choose to ignore the requirements of State law.

dan dempsey said...

"One, Lindsay Hill, is the executive director of TFA in the Puget Sound area,"

and what is Lindsay Hill's annual salary?

and how about Ms. Ortega who facilitated this scam?

Little wonder TfA wants $4000 per year per candidate and hopes for hundreds of candidates.

Jack Whelan said...

Did I miss something? Isn't the immediate issue whether Enfield will reveal who the anonymous donor is? If so, who is it? If not, does the board have any choice except not to grant the conditional certification?

dan dempsey said...

And Now a few words from Norm Rice in August of 2010.... HERE.

Norm here is what research really shows=>

"the students of novice TFA teachers perform significantly less well in reading and mathematics than those of credentialed beginning teachers,"

Mr. Rice has correctly identified a significant problem... but he has completely failed to analyze its cause.

dan dempsey said...

Jack W -- the mystery donors are from the Seattle Foundation. Norm Rice to the rescue.

Oddly, the Seattle Foundation announced their TfA plans in August of 2010 ... but only stepped up as admitting to be donors in the last 10 days or so.

Maureen said...

It occurs to me that for each TFA Corps Member hired there were probably half a dozen certificated candidates who were interviewed for the same position. I suppose it would be a lot to ask for a couple of them to testify to the Board tonight about their qualifications. Maybe some of them have friends who would be willing to come forward and let us know who the next best candidates were? {I'm guessing not all of them were burnt out losers who read the newspaper and beat the children.} It would also be nice to hear if they are now unemployed or if some other principal snatched them up.

Anonymous said...

Kinda ballsy for a brand new (conditional) hire to get up and speak at a board meeting--which indicates that this young man is aware he's representing (and supported by) a bigger organization ($$$$$) than his would-be employer (and small fish by comparison), SPS.

--I hope Bree's husband doesn't become a role model

Looks Like Hardball said...

They put these folks in classes before names of donors were released. Then, they try and blame the board.

Anonymous said...

To: "I hope Bree's husband doesn't become a role model"

I don't think Mr. Maldonado's appearance at the board meeting should be looked at as "ballsy" or arrogant or dismissive of SPS. Perhaps he wants to share his background and his energy and desire to be an excellent teacher, in an effort to put parents' minds at ease a bit. After all, the recruits are not mired in some plot with the TFA organization to take over the world; the recruits just want to teach.

Mr. Maldonado is at my kids' school, in my son's grade, in the classroom next door. He seems like a really nice, smart guy and by all accounts is doing very well...

--SusanH

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jack, Seattle Foundation, via several generous donors, is paying (I think you missed that thread). And yes, they can/will grant certification.

The issue here is how many TFA recruits are working as subs and will stay on in their classrooms on the "already in the classroom" excuse.

dan dempsey said...

Good question about what happened to fully certified applicants interviewed for the 5 positions where TfA teachers were selected.

My son was recently hired in Oakville, WA to teach first grade. They had 150 applicants to teach first grade. There is no WA state teacher shortage and the Board has not performed a review of all options for closing the achievement gaps.

The Board has in the past ignored policies and laws. Likely they will be ignoring laws again tonight.

Anonymous said...

I am very skeptical about generalizing a couple of emails from Aki parents as an indication of broad support for TFA by parents at Aki.

Concerns were raised on this blog about why Aki's principal was such an eager participant in TFA in comparison to other principals in the district.

All people in power have their deputies and supporters (and/or parent reps on hiring teams). Trashing current or former teachers at Aki by a few of these possible toadies as a means of justifying an experiment on the students at the school is not a scientific way to glean parent support for TFA.

Also, I want to reiterate that most new teachers (not just TFA), and many experienced teachers,
go way over the top to support students on their free time. Out of humility and decency, I'm not going to list my out-of-school time mentoring, tutoring or soliciting support for my students and their families over the years.

Most teachers who stay in the profession do this without talking about it. The fact that TFA perpetuates itself by yelling from the mountaintop about putting in extra time for students in no way, shape or form makes them unique.

It does however, look self-serving and prideful. I hope the public quits falling for this distorted narrative and recognizes that it is part of their marketing game.

--public servant

dan dempsey said...

The law asks that the Board know about the prior experience applicants for conditional certification have working with children.

Seems like Mr. Maldonado's testimony is very appropriate.

Charlie Mas said...

The Board will be violating the law, but if they don't vote to approve the conditional certificates they will be in breach of their contract.

The state will never try to enforce the law, but you better bet that Teach for America will try to enforce their contract.

seattle citizen said...

SusanH wrote that "the [TFA] recruits just want to teach."

Then why don't they demonstrate a long-term commitment to teaching by doing the hard work of taking classes, student teaching, and get a certificate? Like all the other CERTIFIED applicants for the positions the TFA non-certs took?

It's not like they are in "hard to fill" positons: They took jobs from certified candidates (no lack of candidates, which is one condition for conditional cert) or are filling a hard to fill specialty area (the only other condition...)

So hey, if they want to teach, do what all teachers do and do the hard work to become a teacher.

Anonymous said...

During the Bush II and Reagan administrations, there were drinking games to play during Presidential speeches while these ... fibbers ... fibbed.

What about the TFA drinking game? For every mention of 1 of their catchy kool-aid buzz words "enthusiastic", "dedicated" ... you have to ... not puke in your mouth?

When you look at whatever was good and whatever is good about TFA, and you look at the cult like manipulation of young out of college 20 somethings, you have just another case study of how a well meaning idea turns into a protection racket for the bo$$e$.

Due to the bo$$e$ social class, I am sure the Harvard Business School wouldn't define them as a racket!

IAmNotACrook

anonymous said...

"Kinda ballsy for a brand new (conditional) hire to get up and speak at a board meeting--which indicates that this young man is aware he's representing (and supported by) a bigger organization ($$$$$) than his would-be employer (and small fish by comparison), SPS."

Or maybe he is just passionate about his beliefs?

signed, glass half full

anonymous said...

"I am very skeptical about generalizing a couple of emails from Aki parents as an indication of broad support for TFA by parents at Aki."

Agreed, but by the same token I am very skeptical to generalize that Aki families do not welcome TFA recruits. So far I haven't heard one Aki parent speak negatively against TFA.

-glass half full

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Most new teachers are "passionate" about their beliefs but they:

1)have a single employer to please
(not a second one who is promising them all kinds of goodies and opportunities in two years, like entry into Goldman Sachs); and

2) don't have to go to a school board meeting (before they are hired) to prove they have any experience working with kids--because their teaching certificate already shows they have previous experience beyond the circus

...one shot for "passionate"

signed, the idealistic realist

anonymous said...

"SusanH wrote that "the [TFA] recruits just want to teach."

Then why don't they demonstrate a long-term commitment to teaching by doing the hard work of taking classes, student teaching, and get a certificate? "

Maybe they don't want to be long term, careen teachers? Not many do. Sadly, the salary is paltry and the politics are unbearable. But if they want to teach temporarily, and a hiring team of competent teachers, parents, and a principal feels they are the best candidate for the job - more power to them.

Plus the average retention time for fully certificate teachers is 5 years. FIVE years. Not all that much higher than TFA recruits.

Hmmm. Something to think about, huh.

Just sayin'

anonymous said...

"It occurs to me that for each TFA Corps Member hired there were probably half a dozen certificated candidates who were interviewed for the same position. "

Maureen why do you think the certificated candidates didn't get the job? Seriously. They are more qualified than a TFA recruit. All candidates are are interviewed by a hiring committee in the building. So why do you think the more experienced candidate didn't get the job?

Is it a district wide conspiracy to get TFA in?

Or could it be that the teachers that are still available by tier 3, or are in the reserve pool are just not desirable for whatever reason?

There has to be a reason that a TFA recruit that costs a fee and is less experienced (in most cases) and no certified, is hired over a certificated teacher?? I am seriously curious as to why and how this happens?? I'm not a conspiracy theorist, so I'd like to hear from someone at the building level (blt or hiring committee)???

-glass half full

Melissa Westbrook said...

This issue of whether Aki Kurose parents want TFA or not begs the question; do they even know this is what is happening? I kind of doubt it. But there's a fix for everything.

Anonymous said...

"a hiring team of competent teachers, parents, and a principal feels they are the best candidate for the job"

This seems to be the norm, which is why there have only been (what?) 4-5 hires, mostly concentrated at one school.

--What's up with Aki?

Anonymous said...

@Seattle Citizen,

I'm afraid I don't know that much about education politics, but one of my good friends is a TFA alum who is a dedicated life-long teacher in SPS. So that's what I know. A smart, talented person who started in TFA and continues to work for us. She probably won't weigh in here though, because 1) she's too busy with work and family, and because 2) it's such a hostile crowd, there's really no point.

--SusanH

Another glass said...

Melissa,

Are you saying that the parents at Aki are too uniformed, uninterested or uncaring to know that there are TFA teachers there and/or that if they do know, they don't know/care/bother enough to want them out?

Because that sure sounds like what you're saying. I know many parents with kids there and they're not only aware but ok with TFA. To imply that they don't without having any clue whatsoever if that's true is very...patronizing.

seattle citizen said...

@SusanH,
I'm a bit hostile about the law being broken, yes. The state tells us that conditional certs can be granted after a district has exhausted all avenues to a) fill a lost (no certified applicants for the job: The principal of South Shore just said at the board meeting that there were 98 applicants for the position she filled with a TFA person. She swept aside the certification classes and student teaching of 97 CERTIFIED TEACHERS in favor of a TFA person)or b) they are hiring for a specialry they need for which there are few certified teachers (auto shop, for instance)

Damn straight I'm hostile: TFA and the district, as evidenced by email threads, organized the bring of TFA to Seattle even though there is no shortage of certified teachers and they aren't specialists.

So why then TFA? Evidently, they would like to diminish the value of certificates. If that's what they want to do, then discuss it and change the law. But this state demands fully certificated teachers in front of our childrens' classrooms, and Seattle is not following that law. Makes me hostile against TFA, you bet. NOt against the idealistic (but porrly trained) young people who join, but against the organization and the district for allowing this charade to move forward.

anonymous said...

"This issue of whether Aki Kurose parents want TFA or not begs the question; do they even know this is what is happening? I kind of doubt it.


Do you have anything at all to base this assumption on Melissa? If not, it is so patronizing that it could not possibly be taken seriously.

-glass half full

seattle citizen said...

Another Glass: It's a pretty fair statement that wealthier people are more active and knowledgable about schools (if they have an interest.) Poorer people are less apt to have time or resources ("savvy"; knowing who to talk to, where to look) to be active and/or learn about educational policy, in their schools or in the district...or state..or nation.
It's not disrespectful to state that obvious fact; it's just the truth.
How many parents of Somali children have a high level of knowledge about and interaction with Seattle Schools? Not a lot. That is absolutely not a derogatory statement, it's just true. They might not know English, they might not have transportation or computers, they might be struggling economically. Heck, this is half the reason some students at Aki (and in other schools) DO struggle.

Melissa's statement is a true generalizaion.

Beyond that, just because some people at Aki want TFA, that doesn't change the fact that this is a public DISTRICT, and policy pertains throughout; not does it change state law, which requires a certified teacher in every classroom except for conditions which Seattle hasn't met.

seattle citizen said...

glass half full, your "patronizing" accusation doesn't hold water and is a deflection from the issue at hand, which is that, typically, Aki parent/guardians most surely ARE less informed about the school system than people in wealthier, whiter schools. It's unfortunate that that is the case, but it is no doubt true, for a number of reasons I stated above. It's not patronizing to state the truth, unless one is trying to step on someone else, which Melissa most certainly is not.

anonymous said...

There have now been two posters in this thread alone who have had first hand experience in SPS with TFA teachers. By their accounts both teachers are not only doing well - but they are thriving.

Should we discount these first hand accounts? Discredit them? Should we just lump them into the poor uninformed people group?

I don't think so.

I think there are many avenues for finding great teachers. And it seems that for the folks on the ground, and in our schools, TFAers are doing well. It actually appears that only bloggers (and a few insecure teachers) are bothered by TFA.

Just something to think about.

Glass half full

StopTFA said...

Mr Maldonado, who is decidedly passionate and emotional about the poor, can testify if he wishes. I take issue with Principal Keisha Scarlett getting up to the podium and purporting to speak for Principal Williams (at Aki) and "one" set of parents trumpeting the wonderful awesomeness of TFA.

I can get emotional too. If I were a board member, a business person, a parent, who is not fulltime in the education business, I would do well to rely on evidence and data, NOT emotional testimonials (with lots of "I" statements) when deciding on hires and district business.

Time for a new board.

Anonymous said...

Dan said, "Look for lots of TfA anecdotes tonight. Watch how many directors choose to ignore the requirements of State law" at the top of this blog.

Sounds like this Oprah moment was fulfilled with the appropriate poster children from TFA.

--Dan Dempsey rocks!

seattle citizen said...

Glass half full,

You write that you "think there are many avenues for finding great teachers."

Great! As well there might be! But Washington State law says that the avenue is a certificate (which, in my opinion, not only provides a much deeper preliminary preparation through coursework and student teaching, but helps solidify that person's commitment: They've done the hard work.)

If the people of the state of Washington want to discuss this issue and change the rules regarding who we put in front of our classrooms, then let them. But you'll note that not one Director addressed this issue tonight. They all said, "If principals and site-based teams decide this is the right person, let them hire them." NONE of them addressed the illegality (oh, I know, they've made up some end-run aroud the law...especially noteworthy was the quick legislation nationally abrogating the Ninth Circuit's decision that putting poorly trained, or "conditionally certified" people in front ofthe poorest students was a violation of those students' civil rights..but this does not change the fact that teachers are supposed to have certificates in order to apply.

Here's another thing: Say somebody with a resume walks in off the street, gets an interview, is "hired" - Well, they CAN'T be: TFA has a lock on the process - ONLY TFA conditional certs are available here in Seattle, due to the contract SPS signed. So your assertion that somehow anyone the school might decide to hire is just fine doesn't work, because they HAVE to be TFA.

Lastly, I just realized that the UW has given up its ability to make its own choices about who it lets into its programs: IF a person becomes TFA (through THEIR interview process; then IF that person gets hired, then the UW HAS to take them!

It's crazy all around: The email thread that showed such disdain for law and policy; the tossing out of the merit of certificates by our Board tonight ("Principals make decisions, certs don't matter")...The whole process of TFA's entrance into SPS is an end-run around democratically enacted policy and law, and it stinks.

seattle citizen said...

"It actually appears that only bloggers (and a few insecure teachers) are bothered by TFA."

You mean the huge majority of teachers that voted against TFA in their caucuses on Monday?

You mean the many, many people that, when they have learned a bit about the process, and the tossing out of a meaningful certificate, express dismay?

Ah, yes, those few. I guess most people want as a lawyer someone who has passion but hasn't passed the bar; a doctor who is idealistic but hasn't yet studied for the MCATS; heck, an auto mechanic who "loves cars" but has taken none of the lengthy tech programs that teach about modern automobiles...Yes! As long as they are passionate, it's all good!

Most people don't believe this: They want their professionals to come into the profession with some knowledge about it.

dan dempsey said...

It appears that the Board not only ignores state law, it also ignores those who mention state law.

So when was that careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps..... watch the board continue to ignore that question as well.

The SPS only uses the gaps to provide cover for predetermined actions.... There has been no careful review as required by law.

Every incumbent director seeking reelection should be tossed out in the coming election.

WOW, if a director ignores the law and answering significant questions of those giving testimony ... then Where's my republic?

==========
Note I did not receive a single response from any director by email to the several data emails sent to directors. The Directors do not wish to discuss the law they are violating. Either in email or at the Board meeting.

CT said...

Glass-
I've met and know several former TFA people. All perfectly nice, all with good intentions. However, only one of them came to the realization that parents were trusting her with their children's future and she was not properly prepared for the classroom. She quit the program, moved back to Seattle, then enrolled in a proper certification program. She now teaches in a district up north, and is happy with her decision. She has been a source of TFA info for me, as well as a fairly strong critic of that organization.
The other 2 pretty much did their 2 years and moved on. Of these two, one was a young guy who managed to antagonize pretty much everyone in the math department with his arrogant attitude ("I don't have to put up with this, I have other options")' and the other was a nice young woman who was assigned to teach first grade, but had no idea how to teach reading, a crucial skill at that grade. She was what we call a Frank Schaffer teacher, meaning she used lots of worksheets. Again, nice person, not unintelligent, but definitely lacking some prerequisite skills.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Do you have anything at all to base this assumption on Melissa? If not, it is so patronizing that it could not possibly be taken seriously."

I didn't say (or mean) Aki parents didn't care. I meant (and this is true at every school I know of) that principals don't generally inform parents where teachers come from. New to teaching, transferred from another SPS school, came from another state - does your principal?

I meant that no school is going to go out of its way to tell parents they have a TFA teacher - TFA doesn't like that.

Maureen said...

I've just started listening to the testimony at the Board Meeting.

One thing I have to admit is that TFA is great at providing Corps Members (CMs)who show up looking good and staying on message. If I had absolutely nothing else to do, I would watch the testimony of the last group of CMs (from last fall?) and the ones from yesterday and reverse engineer the talking points TFA distributed to them. This year they were clearly asked to address isssues of collaboration with veteran teachers and show some respect. They also made sure they had someone to check off the research bullet and a few who are parents. It is really nice when you can count on your people to stay on message.

Melissa Westbrook said...

It was a bit funny Maureen because they seemed to be under the impression they had to be there to make sure this went thru. The Board already okayed the other ones so why not this one? The irony was virtually no one offered opposition to it just some careful observations. But I guess they got spooked when it got put off.

I'll have a wrap-up in a different thread.

suep. said...

A few observations from watching last night's public testimony...

I found it ironic to hear these TFA corps members refer to 'veteran teachers' so often, and as resources for them, when their very operation implicitly (and in some cases, explicitly) markets itself as an antidote to more experienced teachers, and in some cases, are being used by TFA, Inc. and the anti-union ed reformers to elbow out these same veteran teachers for their jobs.

I found it curious that these supposedly wunderkind TFAers rely so heavily on coaches and mentoring from regularly trained teachers. I know all new teachers need mentoring. But the repeated emphasis on this need for help in last night's testimony sounded like an admission that the TFAers are not ready for prime time.

Which leads to another issue: the fact that these TFAers have no in-class experience means they may need a lot more hand-holding than more fully trained teachers with student-teaching experience, and if their more veteran colleagues are expected to offer that, then who is compensating the veteran teachers for this extra effort, and why are we paying $4,000/year extra for these novices who need so much help?

I found it telling that the Stanford TFA researcher touted TFA's "strength as a leadership pipeline" -- not its strength as a teacher training and retention model.

I agree with Maureen that their talking points have clearly changed from last year's unseemly "we're the best and brightest and we alone care about closing the achievement gap!" to a slightly more humble tone (indeed, "humble" was emotional recruit Mr. Maldonado's refrain), and one former TFAer admitted that she "did not going in think I knew how to teach after 5 weeks of training."

And yes, they did round up a more ethnically diverse sampling of TFAers this time around.

But there were still some "Rah Rah Me!" comments ("I feel that I made a huge positive impact on my students") and laundry lists of all the extra things they said they do (or did -- most of them aren't teaching anymore) for their students -- efforts that are no more above and beyond what I see teachers doing for their kids in my children's schools everyday.

Overall, what I thought was most telling is the fact that, one entire year later after the board voted to approve the SPS contract with TFA, TFA still felt the need to make their case to the board and public for their worth.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
StopTFA said...

anonymous, repost with a handle or it will be deleted under blog rules....

StopTFA said...

Reposted for anonymous:

I won't attack a TFA teacher for wanting to make a difference in society. Good on them.

But if anyone is naive enough to not see through the smokescreen of TFA's propaganda and intentional effort to discredit traditionally trained teachers and propagate the notion that if only traditional teachers had the same "go-getter" attitudes as TFA folks, there'd be no achievement gap and no need for unions, then I think some folks are in dreamland.

TFA is here, and it's been baked in the cake for 2 years at least that they would be here, because LEV & Co. want them and this Board gives LEV & Co. what they want, period.

In all likelihood, maybe one in five or ten will stay on as a career teacher, while others hop up into administrative or private education industry jobs at 6 figures, then possessing the inside knowledge and street-cred earned by 2 years in an urban classroom.

This also means constant churn of teaching staffs in struggling schools, constant new hiring and training, and many people not staying in the classroom long enough to become a really good, experienced, career teachers.

And who thinks this is a good idea? If any pro-TFA person can tell me how this model is sustainable or desirable, I'm all ears. But "Great Teachers, Gone After Two Years" is not an ideal I can embrace if I care about the sustainability and longevity of public schools.

Anonymous said...

You don't see Tacoma teachers putting up with TFA. You also notice that they kept control of class sizes, salaries and the administrative attempt to control hiring by standing up to the bully.

SEA is MIA. There are no checks and balances in this district. An educators' union helps keep a lot of this mess from even trying to rear its ugly head.

Some of the orchestrated public testimony last night was a low point in self-indulgence. That young man who just got hired is still crying because he worked with some people in poverty during his last year of college, which made him re-think his career goals. We have educators in this district who were in the killing fields of Cambodia, grew up in gang violence, were in refugee camps and on and on and on.
They got their certificates the legal way (or are IAs and are working on their currently working on their certificates while they work full-time and raise families), don't go public to advertise themselves or their painful histories but serve their students with dignity and devotion.

The parent who spoke about the rampant use of "I" messages being used by these folks instead of facts about summed it up. There is a whole lot of narcissism attached to this TFA enterprise, from Wendy Kopp to Tom Stritikus.

Get rid of the school board--including the wimpy Michael DeBell.
Put Kay Smith-Blum on notice. And by all means, get rid of the narcissist-in-chief, Susan Enfield.

--Betty Patu continues to demonstrate dignity and wisdom

dan dempsey said...

Director DeBell apparently has no concept of the legal requirements for the Board to apply for conditional certification of TfA members.... His statements at the Board meeting show that in his opinion "a valuable experiment" is sufficient grounds to request "conditional certification" for TfA members.

Director DeBell took an oath of office in which he swore to uphold the constitution and laws of the State of WA... apparently he not only ignores testimony and the law but also his oath of office.

What a Board -- Seattle is currently stuck with.

Now we will get to see if Randy Dorn at OSPI is any better.

StopTFA said...

Betty Patu for President!

dan dempsey said...

Melissa said:
" The irony was virtually no one offered opposition to it just some careful observations. But I guess they got spooked when it got put off."

Not quite I stated significant "legally based" opposition to this TfA proposal at the last board meeting, but since the Board periodically ignores state laws... like who cares?

On Nov. 3 we will see if the Appeals Court Division I will decide that the Board needed to comply with the requirements of RCW 28A 645.020 in regard to providing a timely transcript of a board action and a certified correct transcript. ... In Seattle it seems that members of the insiders club can ignore laws without any consequences. There are two separate actions to be dealt with:
1... School closure decisions (Sundquist was instrumental in closing Cooper)
2... The $800,000 New Tech Network contract approval.

In number 2, the case was dismissed by the judge when Attorney Stafne stated it was not possible to construct a case when the board did not provide a certified correct record as required by law on which to build a case. The Judge ruled in favor of the district.... WOW TYPICAL ...
..."Within twenty days of service of the notice of appeal, the school board, at its expense, or the school official, at such official's expense, shall file the complete transcript of the evidence and the papers and exhibits relating to the decision for which a complaint has been filed. Such filings shall be certified to be correct."

... but like who cares in Seattle?

Charlie Mas said...

Melissa wrote:
"This issue of whether Aki Kurose parents want TFA or not begs the question; do they even know this is what is happening? I kind of doubt it."

Another glass responded:
"I know many parents with kids there and they're not only aware but ok with TFA."

I'm curious. HOW did the parents at Aki Kurose know that the school hired two Teach for America corps members as teachers? Was it announced in some sort of school bulletin? Did they learn it by reading about it in the newspaper? Did they get the news about it from the School Board agenda? Was it leaked from the hiring committee?

Or did they learn about it from this blog?

If people know this, HOW do they know it?

Another Glass said...

Charlie,

Most Aki parents I know don't care for your blog. They've read it, but they feel it blames them for any and all failings there or at any other S. Seattle school. I don't know many S. Seattle teachers who do either, though I know fewer teachers than parents.

The common refrain I hear from any of them is "Why don't they come to our school and see it for themselves?" or "They haven't talked to ME."

They also think that there is a lot of angst by well-meaning non-S. Seattle residents and/or non-low-income, and/or white people about schools and kids they aren't actually involved in, and without talking to them about what THEY'D want to change.

I haven't quizzed them on how they know about TFA but people down here don't live in a bubble. It's been in the news, so I'd guess that's where they first heard and then began to talk about it amongst themselves. I don't have an Aki kid myself anymore but many of my kid's friends go there so I know plenty of parents.

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

Melissa and Charlie, I think Another glass is on to something.

Since you consider yourself reporters, why not ask the AKI and RBHS PTSA's for a meeting and interview them on how their community feels about TFA recruits in their schools? Ask them how their community feels about charters as an option in the south end. If they are pro charter, ask them what kind of charter would be appealing. Ask them if they feel their schools need improvement or if they think they are functioning fine just the way are. If they feel that their schools do need to improve ask them how they think the district could accomplish the improvement, what they'd like to see, and what they think might work.

Then report back here.

That would be very very welcome.

flea

anonymous said...

Sure Melissa, a principal may not announce in the school newspaper "welcome our new TFA teacher", but I'd guess when they introduce the new teacher to the school community (in the school bulletin or at a PTA meeting) they mention their background. Every time we get a new teacher or principal some background is given IE: Mr. X will be joining Whitman MS and will be our new 6th grade math teacher. He comes to us from the Renton school district where he taught 7th grade math for the last 8 years.

Aki and RBHS are the target schools for TFA. TFA has been in the news regularly, and on the agenda at multiple school board meetings. It has also been the subject of almost every other post on this blog for the past year. Further, the hiring committee at RBHS would have had to hire the TFAer. The hiring committee is made up (partly) of community members, the PTSA would know about it too. And the PTSA is made up of community members. And lastly, Betty Patu is a damn good board director, and she has regular community meetings. I'd guess she is telling AKI and RBHS families to keep TFA on their radar.

Really, TFA is no secret. Word gets around.

flea

Melissa Westbrook said...

Another Glass, interesting. Because I don't know many Aki parents, I know many SE parents who do read the blog and find it useful. I guess there is a difference of opinion everywhere you go.

I do keep in touch with the RBHS PTA and I feel like they help me keep on track.

I may not have talked to the parents you have but over the years I have asked many parents "what do you want?" because frankly not many people do.

But I'm happy to try to set something up at Aki. I have looked and I haven't been able to find any updated info on their PTSA leadership at the website. (They list officers from 2009-2010.) If you know someone on that Board, please give them my e-mail and ask them to contact me.

Right now there is only TFA at Washington, Aki Kurose and South Shore. Unless RBHS has some subs who are TFA, there are none there.

Anonymous said...

Desperate parents will always, overwhelmingly support something else, behind door number 2, compared to what they have currently. Charters, TFA teachers, or almost any Ed Reform goal can be sold to people living on the edge, because their hopes and desires are so easily manipulable when they are anxious.

If a group is not given enough so that it has something to stand up for and defend, it will "fall for anything." And that's not on them. It's on all of us, especially those in JSCEE. WSDWG

NLM said...

I love it. Parents who don't agree with the majority here are now dupes who fall for anything.

anonymous said...

Now you are getting it NLM. That's why they had to create a special thread for people who don't agree with the masses. If you don't agree with the masses you are either misinformed, naive, low income and don't know any better, or problematic.

tired

anonymous said...

And BTW the masses only refer to the regular posters on this blog, which I don't think is even close to representative of the views of the families of SPS or throughout the country.

tired

Anonymous said...

tired, you forgot the accusation that you might be a plant by or even one of "them". But it sure does get tired hearing that those poor uneducated, low-income, minority folks are just too stupid to know what they want. That hasn't been my experience at all.

Also tired

Melissa Westbrook said...

Tireds, sorry you feel that way.

But I really would like you to show me where anyone said:

"..poor uneducated, low-income, minority folks are just too stupid to know what they want."

Because I know for certain Charlie and I never said that. So can you tell me where you read that here?

seattle citizen said...

NLM, tired, and also tired:
Nicely spun! Forget arguing something on its merits, just attack your opponent as somehow elitist, uncaring, patronizing...How often we hear that sort or response. While many on this blog argue points cogently (if passionately) the three of you merely fall back on the oft-repeated mantra: "They shout us down! They thik the poor are idiots!"
Please tell us where anyone on this blog has said "parents who don't agree with the majority here are now dupes who fall for anything."
Or:
Where there are "masses" on this blog. Among the regulars, I note that there is a wide diversity: Geographic, economic, Special Ed, Gen ed, ALO, pro-charter, anti-charter, etc etc. The only truly unifying thing on this thread seems to be astonishment at how our Board doesn't follow policy, and how it rubber-stamps the admins.

Get real. No one on this blog thinks "that those poor uneducated, low-income, minority folks are just too stupid to know what they want." Show us where someone said something like this. Otherwise, you're just deflecting the arguments, attacking the commenters here instead of offering cogent and substantive rebuttals.

Your insults are themselves mean-spirited. Play nice!

seattle citizen said...

I note with some dismay that TFA relies heavily on the poor these days for its very existence. Whilst once it SERVED the poor, it now uses them, and minorities, and trumpets itself as some sort of saviour. We see this everywhere, lately in a few recent posts where people on this blog who discuss things are accused of thinking the poor "stupid."

It's too bad that TFA has become so big for its britches that it thinks it is the only organization that cares about poor and minority students. Many regular commenters on this blog ARE poor, have been, ARE minorities, have worked hard WITH minorities to end social injustice of the gravest sort, yet TFA runs in and says, WE can fix this, and all those people who complain about how we got here hate OUR poor!
It's frankly tragic, disrespectful, and mean-spirited. Oh, how I wish it would stop.

NLM said...

Citizen- this is not a single issue (TFA) problem...there is ample evidence that some regular posters feel they know what's better for kids than their parents, educators, and community leaders. When you see comments (repeatedly) such as...

"If a group is not given enough so that it has something to stand up for and defend, it will "fall for anything."

"This issue of whether Aki Kurose parents want TFA or not begs the question; do they even know this is what is happening? I kind of doubt it."

"I am very skeptical about generalizing a couple of emails from Aki parents as an indication of broad support for TFA by parents at Aki."

"I hope the public stops falling for this distorted narrative"...would that public be SusanH (above)?

What other conclusion would the average bear draw?

I also deeply resent your comments about the poor and minorities being used by TFA. Maybe I shouldn't but I take that personally. You don't think for me, speak for me, represent my interests or have the faintest idea what my values are and neither does TFA.

I've found, here as elsewhere, that I have a lot more to fear from people who claim to have my children’s best interests at heart than those who openly declare themselves an adversary. Saying you volunteer with ethnic minorities or you used to be poor is like saying I knew a black guy once. At the end of the day, that is not your life.

No matter though, it really doesn't matter what 'those people' think or say. They must be uninformed, misrepresentative of their group, or acting as a tool of the enemy. It's impossible for 'them' to think for themselves or formulate a cogent argument without being mean-spirited (pot meet kettle). And yet, would folks be so quick to discount the input of 3 or more L@L parents who all share some variation of the same perspective?

Whatever. I keep allowing myself to get sucked into this and it's time for me to bow out. Enjoy your echo chamber. Peace.

anonymous said...

NLM, I learned a long time ago to never read Seattle Citizens comments, and never ever respond to them. You will get sucked in, and be frustrated, but you will get nowhere. Ever. Better to just go bang your head on a cement wall - all night long.

tired

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, I just want to state that I said I doubted that Aki Kurose parents don't know about TFA because TFA wants it that way and not because Aki Kurose parents aren't keeping up. But the district isn't announcing it, TFA doesn't want it announced so you'd be hard-pressed to know if you didn't read this blog or have your ear to the ground at the school over the summer.

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...

Melissa, why do you think you know about TFA, I know about TFA, and hundreds of other families know about TFA, but parents of children at Aki and South Shore don't? What makes them different from you and I, and the others? Do you think they can't, don't, or won't read? Or watch the news? Or listen to the radio? Do you think they don't attend board meetings? Do you think they don't sit on their schools PTA and hiring committees? Do you think they don't talk to their kids teachers? Or talk to other parents in the hallways? Do you think they don't go to Betty Patu's community meetings? Do you think the principal of their schools don't introduce the new teachers?

If you look at the Aki Kurose website you would see that every teacher has a bio and picture proudly displayed - and almost all of them list their experience and education. They don't seem to have anything to hide. I'm not sure if they have updated the bios to include the TFA teachers yet, but surely they will not exclude them.

http://akikuroseacademy.org
/Aki_Main/Staff.html

The info is out there.

tired

anonymous said...

I just googled TFA in Seattle Schools and quickly found that there has been plenty of news coverage and articles about on TFA coming to SPS:

TV: both KOMO and King 5 covered the topic

Radio: KUOW

Blogs: West Seattle Blog covered TFA, and of course SSS does all the time.

Newspapers (w/articles on TFA):

Central District News

Rainier Valley Post (announced the 2 new teachers)

Crosscut

The Stranger

Seattle Child


If TFA wants to hide (and I'm not so sure about that they do) it's not working. The information is out thee and is plentiful. And it appears that even small regional newspapers like Rainier Valley Post are covering it.

I think the families in the area know.

Maybe it's time for that meeting with the AKI PTSA. Find out what they know or don't know first hand.

RL

seattle citizen said...

Well. NLM has evidently bowed out, but I'll respond anyway: NLM writes:
I also deeply resent your comments about the poor and minorities being used by TFA. Maybe I shouldn't but I take that personally. You don't think for me, speak for me, represent my interests or have the faintest idea what my values are and neither does TFA."

Let's take the example of the Our Schools Coalition. It was formed by Reformers for the sole purpose of pubishing the results of a supposedly neutral survey about teacher quality.

This group, OSC, was cmposed almost entirely of minority groups. You can bet that very few of the membership of these groups knew what OSC was: Their leadership, in an attempt to gain bargaining power, signed on.

How do I know this? I was a member of one of these minority groups, and no one asked me my opinion about joining OSC.

I joined the group to gain knowledge, to gain leverage, to help the group have a voice. But leadership of these groups often make their own decisions, based, perhaps on their own personal place or "power" and maybe not so much on the interests of the group.

Tom Wolfe writes about this in an essay called "Mau-Mauing the Flak Catcher." How do minorities gain "power" (which they have, indeed, been unfairly denied)? By forming groups that can be used as voting blocs or as leverage when white liberals say, "This group backs us up; we all feel badly about the condition of this group; so we must be legit, we speak for the oppressed."

So OSC purported to "represent" minorities, just as TFA does.

It's a snow job, perpetrated on people eager for SOME sort of progress. Listen to the TFA people at board meetings - ""I increased my student's standardized test scores X percent." Minorities are told that these scores actually represent an education, and, desperate for a level playing field and political power, allow themselves to be part of "groups" that, with their leader's personal drives for power and access, are manipulated by such entities as OSC and TFA.

I find it disheartening.

But NLM has "bowed out" and "tired" doesn't read my comments, so perhaps we can expect no rebuttal.

seattle citizen said...

@tired -

"I learned a long time ago to never read Seattle Citizens comments, and never ever respond to them."

Indeed, it would be hard to respond to them if you don't read them. So that's a wise policy!

StopTFA said...

RL,

Shoot, you forgot to mention the Times and Crosscut even brought out the Dean of the UW College of Education to give his expert opinion. Did any of those news outlets point out the secret machinations to get TFA here? KUOW was the only one to delve into the corruption.

TFA would have us all swallow the press releases touting their super awesome ability to close the achievement gap. I would applaud them if 1) they weren't fronted by the very rich who feel they truly know what's best for my child; and 2) if they actually WERE effective.

anonymous said...

"Shoot, you forgot to mention the Times and Crosscut even brought out the Dean of the UW College of Education to give his expert opinion."

Sorry, StopTFA, but not everyone thinks TFA is a bad thing. Some people are eager for change, and willing to give it a try. Some people, gasp, might respect the expert opinion of the Dean of the UW College of Education. Some people might, gasp again, even respect our board directors opinions and decisions.

For every TFA hater, there is someone eager to welcome TFA to SPS. And they are not all uninformed, misguided, poor people. They are our board directors, the principals of the schools that hired them, BLT and hiring committees, foundations, and yes, the Dean of the UW college of education.

mirror

seattle citizen said...

But mirror, Washington State requires, by law, a certificate to teach. The ONLY reasons for someone without a certificate to lead a classroom are if there are no certified applicants, or if the job being filled requires specialized training, such as auto shop.
There were 97 certified applicants for a job at South Lake, and one TFA applicant. No shortage there! The TFA applicant got the job.

So it's okay to break the law to staff a building?

NONE of the 97 cert applicants, with a year or studies in such important areas as Special ed, adolescent development, pedagogy, management, etc, AND three to six months in the classroom as a student teacher....NONE of these certificated teachers were more prepared than an uncertificated person with five weeks training?

Why?

anonymous said...

It may be the law Seattle Citizen, but families are demanding change, and not just here in Seattle, but all over the state, and country. A lot of families are not happy with business as usual and the status quo. Some believe in and are fighting for change and reform. Who am I, or you, to say they are all wrong? That reform shouldn't happen. That change is the devil.

Personally, I do not fear change. I am generally open and eager to try new things. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don't. That's how I learn and grow. I try to have an open mind. And I model this behavior for my children so they too (as the next generation) will be able to function and progress with an open mind.

I get that change is hard for you. That you want things to stay the way they always have been. Maybe you fear losing your job? Or that it will weaken the union. But, you can't fight the masses forever. Reform is coming. You can either work with the community and help shape it, or you can dig in, plug your ears, and stomp your feet - and then other people will shape it.

Open your mind.

mirror

seattle citizen said...

mirror, you write that you "get that change is hard for you."
Where did you get this? Absurd. I change all the time, I like it, I believe it necessary, but changes I think are ridiculous, unfounded in common sense, shoved onto us from some muckety muck at some foundation....I'll look into that, see what's behind it, and fight it if necessary.
You go on: "That you want things to stay the way they always have been."
Wha...? Like back in...1920? 1975? 2000? Obviously a non-starter as an attack on me; see my response above.
"Maybe you fear losing your job?"
Who doesn't? I have a mortgage and a family. But that won't silence me, not will it blind me to what I think are GOOD changes. TFA, after much research and thought on the matter, doesn't meet that critieria. For me. I mean, suit yourself, "change is coming" and if you and yours somehow make ALL teachers TFA, not a thing I can do stop it. But is it good policy?

"Or that it will weaken the union."
The union is already weak,and increasingly under attack by people that seem to want no one to have retirement, health, or a living wage.

"But, you can't fight the masses forever."
Ah, the masses. Yes, we should not stop the masses, question their desires, or get in their way. The masses, being masses, are right! They were right about interning American citizens of Japanese ancestry, and damnit, they're right about TFA, too! The law be damned.

"Reform is coming. You can either work with the community and help shape it, or you can dig in, plug your ears, and stomp your feet - and then other people will shape it."

I've been a part of changes in this community for a long, long time. I've worked with and work wkith, citizens north and south. I've been helping shape policy for years, through various and sundry efforts.

Stomp my feet? Ah, yet ANOTHER diversion: Call a commenter childish. That's the ticket!

"Open your mind," you say? How about you debate from a rational platform? Rebut instead of attack me? Same old, same old....

StopTFA said...

Mirror,

My point is what the Dean is motivated to say in public is very different to what he says in private. Isn't it a good thing to be able to lift the curtain and see the wizard? If not to at least say we still think he's all-powerful despite being a wimp?

That was my point. The more information available to us to make our own informed decision the better; not to place our faith in those who truly have outside motivations and powerful masters.

Information opens the mind.

Anonymous said...

Mirror, tired, & NLM: There's a reason I put "fall for anything" in quotes. My point was the exact opposite of how you took it. I apologize if my sarcasm compromised my articulateness.

My point was that, if what you have is not working for you, and you are tired, frustrated, and anxious about when, if ever, your schools will start working for you, then alternative models and new ideas look a lot brighter to you than to folks who are happy with things they way they are. That group, by the way, will often be called "defenders of the status quo" by folks who want and embrace change.

My larger point is to maintain self-criticism and self-reflection, so we can all remember that there are plenty of folks throughout the district who do not share the same experiences we do. All of our schools are not in crisis, but a few are. One's view of reality is shaped largely based on what school they are in and the experiences they've had.

I don't intend to condescend to anyone on this blog. I do, however, challenge people to look at, and see, the bigger picture from time to time, because this district has a chronic and nasty habit of not telling or disclosing the truth to its community, constantly breaks promises, and happily creates conflict, from time to time, between neighborhoods, clusters, and schools, to achieve its agendas.

Its as simple as this: If it works, don't fix it. If it doesn't work, fix it. Some want "fixes" that others don't. All I want is for people to make informed decisions, and consider the consequences to the larger community when they make their demands.

We're all in this boat together, after all. WSDWG