Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Tuesday Open Thread

So sorry, it slipped my mind.

Now what could be on your mind?  Any predictions perhaps?

There is a party at Rosita's by Green Lake from 7-9 p.m. for the challengers and all are welcome to come.

32 comments:

John said...

Anybody else finding this site to be really slow since the redesign?

Jack Whelan said...

I went to hear Susan Enfield talk to the PTSA at Ingraham last night. She’s very impressive, and I have to say that much of her language could have come out of one my stump speeches when I was running for Position 2. She talked about getting the central office out of the way of schools to let them flourish. She talked about how charter schools have become something different than they were originally intended to be, experiments in innovation. She said she has too much to worry about without getting concerned about the charter school debate. (but she did bring up this mysterious business of “innovation schools”).

She talked about how important alternative schools are to the life of SPS, but also that many of them of stopped being alternative She talked about how important it is for not just students but families to feel a deep sense of connection to their schools. And on several occasions she distanced herself from MGJ, to talk about work not done, messes left behind to be cleaned up. She defended the MAP testing as the only way we can know whether students are making progress, but she said these scores should not be used to determine whether students graduate or not. (Their connection to teacher evaluations didn’t come up.) And, of course, she talked about there being no money and how it’s only going to get worse.

Some of these points were made in response to questions from parents, others from her laying out her description of the Four Pillars for transforming SPS during her tenure. The first, and to me the most troubling "pillar" , was to change the role of principals to be head teachers who would be spending more time in the classrooms rather than doing administrative work. Yes and no.

Here's why it's troubling: I am a teacher, and I am always looking for all the advice and help I can get, but I go to people I know who are proven, excellent teachers—not administrators. If I had a principal in my building that fit that description, I think this would be a good change, but let me ask any teachers out there: how many schools have you worked in where you came to think of the principal as the person who has the knowledge and expertise to help you to do a better job? Aren’t you more likely to turn to another teacher rather than to a principal?

The idea of principals as head teacher must be linked to the idea of excellent teachers being promoted to a head teacher position, not just telling administrators that they now have to evaluate work many didn’t like doing or were never very good at themselves--which is why they went into administration. The fact is that while many principals are excellent, quite a few don’t have a clue about what makes a good teacher or what good curriculum choices are, and they become too reliant on the opinion (or pressure) of those above them in the hierarchy or on a mechanical rubric than really using good judgment that only comes from experience in the classroom.

Susan Enfield framed this discussion of the changed role of principals in language that was all about improvement and collaboration, but looking at Martin Floe sitting there across the room, and remembering his problems with Bree Dusseault pretty vividly illustrates how this system can be abused. I’m sure Ms. Dusseault’s official job description was all about helping principals to improve and all about collaboration, but it still came down to her single, biased, inexperienced judgment as the basis for firing Floe last year, a decision that Susan Enfield defended until the Ingraham Community pushed back.

How is this new role for principals going to be any different? How will it prevent abusive principals from harassing teachers rather than really helping them? Ultimately the teacher evaluation process has to move to a genuinely collaborative process that involves other teachers and the input of parents. Leaving it to one person makes teachers too vulnerable to abuse.

Johnny Calcagno said...

About the slowness of the site after redesign...

I tested the site under OSX and Windows 7 with three different browsers. Under both OS, performance with Chrome was best. Firefox and IE under Windows 7 were pretty slow and jumpy to scroll long pages (e.g. our comment threads). Firefox and Safari under OSX weren't too bad at scrolling, after an initial lag.

I'll try to do a little bit more research on this...

Eric B said...

I have a friend who has a child who wants to take Latin in high school. The child lives in the Ballard attendance area, and Latin is currently only offered at Roosevelt and Garfield. Since the chances of getting into either of those schools is between slim and none, what's the procedure for getting a new subject taught in a high school? Is it a matter of convincing the principal to add a class? What documentation of demand for the class would we expect, since we wouldn't want to have a classroom with three kids? Do we have to petition the Board/JSCEE staff/regional director?

I know about the issues of equity between schools, how NSAP only offers vanilla when some people want strawberry, etc. I'm curious about the process here to fix this individual problem.

Thanks!

Charlie Mas said...

The site is slow because you can't move forward until the calendar loads.

anonymous said...

Hale announced today that effective immediately they will be offering credit retrieval courses in all cores subjects. Classes will be held at Hale, after school, and are the online type -supervised by staff.

Cost $50, or $25 for FRL students.

Not the best, but something.

daf

Charlie Mas said...

Eric B, the student should contact the principal to request the class. Each principal has their own criteria for deciding what classes to offer and how many sections. They have some discretion in this, particularly with electives - and World Languages (yes, even Latin) are electives.

If the effort to have Latin added to the schedule fails, the student has other options. Trying to get into another school is one choice. The class may be available online. It might be available through Running Start. The student could pursue any other means of learning Latin and then seek credit under the newly adopted Credit for Proficiency policy.

StopTFA said...

Jack Whelan,

Now principals or "head teachers", as some would put it, may also benefit from alternative routes to "Top Boss". Jennifer Wallace, Executive Director at the Professional Educators Standards Board (that also regulates school administrators) was careful to ask TFA and KIPP what REALLY was needed to be a principal. They say two years teaching, tops. What a load of BS.

someone said...

Actually - it's slow even AFTER the calendar is loaded (via IE/Windows 7)

seattle citizen said...

Eric B, Charlie outlines one good method of trying to get Latin, nolo contendre...here's another:

Find a teacher whole would be agreeable, survey for potential population to fill the roster as much as possible IF a class gets offered, and ask the teacher to take it to the Instructional Council (IC). I believe all schools have them, they are a sub-committee of the school's BLT (Building Leadership Team) or site council, which "governs" the building (where downtown will let them; where the principal will yield some power to BLT; where there is, in fact, an active BLT that truly governs with parents, students and community representatives as voting members...)
IC can agree to such an offering, and push for it in BLT and to the principal.
Other allies (or foes) might be the counseling department - It is their job to juggle 1500 students x six periods a day = 9000 individual slots for students in a given day's schedule...In other words, if you find twenty five (or more, these days) students who want to take Latin, can all those students be scheduled, say, 4th period? Scheduling considerations are certainly an issue when starting a class.

On the flip side, the more electives the better. Students typically have four core classes and room for two electives - I'm all for offering a wide variety.

Oh, and you'll need a teacher who knows Latin, ipso facto.

Lux et veritas! Omnia extares!

Patrick said...

This site seems to load pretty fast to me. Firefox with FreeBSD.

dan dempsey said...

It takes about three years to really clue into what is going on with teaching and your school...... Five to seven years would likely be better.

No problem being a principal without knowledge of the classroom from being in it....... read about it. ... I am sure the Broad Academy has volumes of materials ready to turn execs into principals.

John said...

Sorry to return one more time to the boring topic, but the site seems fine on my Windows XP computer using Google Chrome, just slow on Internet Explorer 8. Go figure.

We now return you to the interesting conversation already in progress...

(WV - "unmend" - Good one.)

Steveroo said...

The site is fast enough with Firefox/FreeBSD (with annoying blogger.com and gstatic.com scripts turned off). It would be a lot faster without the automatic inclusion of the calendar and other cruft on every page.

The calendar could be on the calendar page. People with slower PCs would benefit the most from that.

Anonymous said...

What's the scoop on the number of TFA candidates who were placed in Seattle? I hear that many of the 35 who were recruited to come to Seattle, and participated in the summer training were not placed. Some have left, but others are hoping for placement next year.

(zb)

Jan said...

Jack -- good points. Many of the best teachers are really teachers at heart, and want nothing (or as little as possible) to do with administrating. While it is possible to find both a master administrator and a master teacher in the same person, I think what Dr. E needs to do is just make sure that schools have both -- even if not in the same body. In many cases, the best service a principal might do, in dealing with a teacher wanting intensive teaching help, would be to cover the class of the expert teacher for a few hours here and there -- so that he/she could work intensively with the teacher seeking help -- or arrange the classes in such a way that the two can otherwise work together.

I DO think it is a positive -- if you can get it -- to have principals who are great teachers, because I think it helps them to understand teachers' issues better, and leads to their being held in higher esteem by the faculty than they would be if they were only average (or worse) teachers, but with great administrative skills.

(And I also believe that in some instances, the best principals/school heads are actually social workers -- or from that line of work -- as long as they "know what they don't know" -- so they don't get in teachers' ways, they are great problem solvers/service delvery types.

dan dempsey said...

Hey ZB,

Just for you.... Here are the 6 TFA corps members teaching in the SPS that I know of from the Action Reports =>

http://www.school-truth.com/TFA-6members.html

The plan for the Legal Appeal is to either get the Board to withdraw from the TFA agreement, which will make this a one year experience. OR have the Court terminate the Agreement.

Here is Joy Anderson's TFA appeal filing.

dan dempsey said...

The Randy Dorn recall sufficiency hearing will take place in Pierce County Superior Court before Thanksgiving. Joy and I have each received the recall synopsis from the AG's office.

Here is the Dorn Recall filing.

Anonymous said...

someone said...
Actually - it's slow even AFTER the calendar is loaded (via IE/Windows 7)

....I second this, running with same system.

Excrutiatingly slow

dan dempsey said...

iMac 24" (fairly old model 7,1)

Mac OSX 10.6.8 (NOT LION)
Safari or Chrome
very fast
Comcast high Speed internet connection

dan dempsey said...

So polls close in 10 minutes .... Will any challengers win?

Will it be an incumbent sweep?

The Times appears to be a propaganda paper ... running a dis-information campaign.

Sahila said...

fast for me... running latest ubuntu with firefox...

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...
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dan dempsey said...

Director District No. 1

Peter Maier 36609 51.92%

Sharon Peaslee 33617 47.68%

Write-in 278 0.39%
Director District No. 2

Sherry Carr 38057 54.73%

Kate Martin 31147 44.79%

Write-in 332 0.48%
Director District No. 3

Harium Martin-Morris 42140 60.66%

Michelle Buetow 26982 38.84%

Write-in 348 0.50%
Director District No. 6

Steve Sundquist 33611 48.43%

Marty McLaren 35442 51.07%

Write-in 348 0.50%

RosieReader said...

EricB, I have to say I think adding any elective in this climate is a long shot. To maximize your case, should you choose to follow the steps that others have outlined, it would be helpful to show high demand for the class where it is currently offered (are those Garfield and Roosevelt classes bursting at the seams, or at least serving over 20 kids?) DO you have a relatively solid poll of students who claim they are committed to taking Latin if offered, again with numbers that would suggest a decent sized-class?

If you don't already have a teacher identified at the school who can teach it, personally I wouldn't take the time to try to do anything. Given how thinly-staffed our high schools are these days, I can't imagine a principal would make "knowledge of a relatively obscure language" a hiring priority.

Sorry to be a downer.

dan dempsey said...

Common Core State Standards slammed in Alabama.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The Alabama Board of Education should rescind last year's approval of national core standards in math and English, known as Common Core, because the new measure would actually lower the current bar for student performance, a group of educators and state officials said Tuesday.

"I'm thrilled that Alabama is finally taking a hard look at the adoption of Common Core," said Ze'ev Wurman, an engineer and business executive who said he has been involved in developing California's education standards for about two decades. His comments came during a Statehouse meeting Tuesday organized by opponents of Common Core.

The state school board could consider rescinding its approval of Common Core as early as Thursday.

"We have new board members," said school board member Stephanie Bell, R-Montgomery.

Jan said...

Eric -- I know there is a sizeable group of kids at GHS who take Latin, but couldn't give you the numbers. I hope you DO follow up on it -- first, who knows, you may be able to get together a teacher and a good group of kids and this thing will fly. Second, even if it ultimately doesn't, it is sort of like when people don't report car burglaries and minor vandalism. The city ends up reporting that things are "crime free" because they never know. If parents ask for what they want, at least one thing that happens is that you are less likely to have staff standing up in front of the board, sometime, saying that they are pulling all [name the subject] classes, because there is no demand. No one ever asks for them. My Latin is way too rusty here to end with any pithy Latin signoff -- but good luck.

peonypower said...

@Jack Whelan-
well put Jack. All of the admin in my building have about 3-4 years in the classroom and don't really know much about teaching, and definitely not in today's classroom of huge classes and diverse students. I would love to have a head teacher in every department at school who was a master teacher. Many schools do have this in a department head but not always, and usually they do not have release time to come help in your classroom.

Enfield talks the talk but does not walk the walk. Attacking gaps and raising expectations just means more work expected of a staff that is already busting its buns without any support. I have classes that are 30% special ed. students (and I am not a special education endorsed teacher) with no additional support. Ridiculous. 4 pillars - as Dr. Evil would say riiiiggghttt

StopTFA said...

zb,

The other possibility is actually requiring state employees at the UW and PESB (and maybe the HECB) to do their jobs and abide by state laws and regulations. They must also meet a higher bar with regards to ethics than certain SPS senior administrators.

Anonymous said...

http://today.seattletimes.com/2011/11/maria-goodloe-johnson-hired-to-help-failing-schools-in-michigan/

Public School Parent

mirmac1 said...

OMG! I feel for Michigan's struggling students....