Tuesday, December 27, 2011

More Superintendent Talk from the Times

Lynne Varner at the Times once again is chiming in with some very similar words on finding a superintendent.  She speaks of superintendents past.

"Each left behind lessons that maybe we're now ready to learn."

NOW?! It's only taken our district a decade or more to learn some important lessons?    And when can we expect this learning to take place at the Times?

She speaks of John Stanford who is now practically a saint in this district.  John Stanford is a lot like John F. Kennedy. We don't really know what their potential or vision would have realized and we have deified them to the point that makes little sense.

Then she reflects on Olchefske:

"But the money guy who said no to rewarding mediocrity stumbled when he failed to track $34 million in spending."

I don't know what parallel universe Ms. Varner is living in but $34M is NOT a stumble. And, she should read her own paper because Olchefske is ALSO the person who got us into the massive debt that is the district headquarters.

"Three years later, Manhas headed for the exit amid community anger over school-closure plans recommended by two separate citizen committees to save money and efficiencies. "


What two separate citizen committees? I served on the first one but the second set of recommendations came straight from staff. And guess what? That second set was wrong and then when Goodloe-Johnson took her turn, we then found out that we NEVER should have closed the most recent schools. The district cost us money instead of saving us money.

I find it troubling that, opinion piece after opinion piece, Ms. Varner makes errors and never corrects them.  It is wrong to send out untrue information into the ether.

She goes on to the present day:
Knowledgeable speculation is that her departure was spurred by division on the board about her leadership goals and plans.
Really? Given she had NEVER publicly talked of her goals or plans for the district, how could the Board have known anything?

And, it looks like the Board survey results are out but I didn't receive any media press release nor is there any info at the district website.  It says results are to be announced at the Jan. 4, 2012 Board Meeting.  I'll have to e-mail the Board for a copy of the results since they seem to be handing them out early.
"Two-thirds picked a strong superintendent over a strong board."

Please understand that the third option to this question - "I want a strong Board AND a strong Superintendent" - was rejected by Elway and the Board took it out. What would the real answer have been then? We'll never know.

No one is asking for perfection. But the Times seems to ignore or look away from the fact that this district has been mismanaged for a decade. They excuse every single financial scandal, they pretend all is well.

We need a well-managed district so we can get on to the REAL business of educating students. But when the powers that be muddy the waters with their own agenda and beliefs, we find we never get to that place.

How about advocating for transparency and accountability rather than perfection?

Update:  Charlie had the very best line:

Leadership isn't about forging ahead on your own. Leadership is about inspiring people to come with you.

88 comments:

Anonymous said...

Varner has shown once again that she spends too much time sitting on her duff on Fairview Ave. Her lack of details on district operations over the past 10 years means she can't write a coherent let alone accurate editorial on how to move forward.

-critical-

mirmac1 said...

The fact she has an "advance copy" of the survey results demonstrates, once again, that the Times is simply the mouthpiece for the Ed Reform militia.

I'm wondering whether this crowd thinks they'll be able to play Brian Rosenthal like they did Linda Shaw on a regular basis. Countless times Shaw got the scoop in exchange for "favorable coverage".

someone said...

Just out of personal curiousity - I looked to see how many Supe jobs were currently available out there - Ed.Week's job section has 39 postings dating back to Sept. - looks like Seattle isn't the only town with problems keeping a Supe - maybe Ms. Varner needs to learn some research skills...nah - that would take away all the fun of reading her columns ;o)

wv says dragn - fire breathing, or asleep at the wheel ;)

Anonymous said...

Varner needs to stop blaming the new board for Enfield leaving the district. The old board could have stopped the erosion in math that took place under MG-J and Susan Enfield. Our district is much worse off with the Everyday math and Discovering textbooks that land too many kids into remedial math in college.

We need a superintendent who is sharp on academics and uses appropriate data to improve the achievement gap and help students learn.

If Varner talked to more parents she might see that there were many objections to the status quo in Seattle Public Schools. That is why we have two new board members.

S parent

Trish Millines Dziko said...

CACIEE was the other committee that recommended closures as part of a bigger improvement package.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks for that Trish but CACIEE was not tasked to figure out closures nor were any done as a result of it (until Closure and Consolidation but we were not asked to use the CACIEE report in our work but should have).

Anonymous said...

I often wonder what it will take to get the Times to come up with a new school editorial writer. It's not just that I disagree with Varner most of the time (which I often do). It's that increasingly she makes little to no sense in her writing, or comes to a conclusion that offers little new. In this case it's the former. What exactly is she trying to say? Surely there are sharper writers out there.

I think I'm especially cranky today because I see what a dramatic upgrade in Times reporting happened when Rosenthal took over for Shaw. We need the same on the editorial side.

savvy voter

Anonymous said...

P.S. Good to see Trish on the blog, as she has not posted in a while. Trish, I admire you. Instead of sitting around and pontificating about the best sort of Ed Reform (I have to admit that in addition to Varner I am sick to death of LEV, though I started out as a huge supporter), you got your hands dirty and live the difficult reality of reaching all kids every day at your school. Thank you.

savvy voter

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Thanks savvy voter. I hope you (and anyone else reading this blog) can find time to visit the school this year. We're always looking for authentic feedback so we can get better at what we do. Shoot me email: trishmi@techaccess.org and I'll send the tour schedule.

The Ed Reform movement is very complex and needs folks at all layers--from policy to community to school. I don't like the policy stuff because by the time a really good policy/bill/legislation gets approved, it looks completely different, generally has no teeth and takes forever to have impact on the ground.

Being on the ground at the school level is as you appropriately called out a "difficult reality". One minute you think you're on to something, the next minute you figure out you were only half right. It's worth all the work though and we're going to do it again in Renton.

Folks on this blog have said it before, but I think it's worth mentioning again. There is no "one way" to improve academics for kids because all kids are different. Instead there are multiple ways and there should be some repository for educators to easily grab onto so they can be up and running quickly on whatever methods they choose.

One thing I will say that matters regardless of what kids you're talking about and that's the belief systems of the adults in the building. If they don't believe in the kids and the overall approach the building has agreed on, then the effort will be a failure because kids can tell how genuine you are and will respond accordingly.

dan dempsey said...

savvy voter,

Looks like you are a believer in VAM for the Times.

So what Value has Ms. Varner Added? Can it be Measured?

Your Rosenthal comparison was perfect.

Anonymous said...

leveraging "someone said..."

Take a look at the number of Doctorates awarded in education vs. the numbers earned in various sciences ...

Table 303. Master’s and Doctoral Degrees Earned by Field: 1980 to 2009

http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0303.pdf

The data would suggest that there are plenty of people, times 100, with the credentials to apply for Seattle's top job.

The biggest obstacle will probably be coming up with a list which isn't too big - and we'll probably get Seattle list of criteria that lacks focus and attempts to appease every faction and which is filled with all kinds of conflicting goals ... but, We'll Have Consensus!

This is an important job and it is an important decision, but

AdvertiseOnCraigsList

peonypower said...

After today's editorial I called to cancel my subscription to the Times. I found out that you can have a "protest hold" on your paper with a complaint that goes straight to management. I complained loudly about the education coverage and specifically about LV's column. Probably won't mean much but it was nice to know that my complaint was typed and sent up the food chain.

Anonymous said...

Right on, peonypower!

Pissed

anonymous said...

Yes, Trish, thank you for all that you are doing with TAF! There are some very lucky Federal Way and Renton kids!!! Wish TAF would have worked out in Seattle, and found a home at Rainier Beach. What a loss for us here.

Keep up the good work!

someone

seattle citizen said...

Trish,
You write that "The Ed Reform movement is very complex and needs folks at all layers--from policy to community to school...."
and later write that
"There is no 'one way' to improve academics for kids because all kids are different. Instead there are multiple ways"
Could you clarify what the "Ed Reform" movement IS? You indicate that "it" needs us, but what is it?

This relates to your other comment, that "there are multiple ways" to improve academics as each kid is different.

To me, Ed Reform seems very monolithic, with some set goals: "Standardized tests" (used to evaluate some (few) aspects of student learning and teacher teaching); charter schools ("free-market" or "consumer choice"); school flexibility (hours, curriculum, etc); deunionization, and, tied to the evaluatory tests, the "merit"-based systems of making teachers more like the private marketplace, where the better "scores" they get for their students, the more they're paid (or at least not fired!), coupled with what appears to be the opening of a pipeline of cheaper, less experienced and less trained...non-certified teachers that would, in this model, fill the trenches at the lower end of the pay scale and, by competitive pressure and deunionization, cause more expensive, more trained and more experienced teachers to teach more to the test in order to compete.

In other words, I see "Ed Reform" as going in the opposite direction as your "multiple ways" - Ed Reform reduces learning to test scores, and thereby limits educator action by its market-driven focus.

Trish, what, in your opinion, is the "Ed Reform movement" that needs us? Is it organized? Is it a few key tenets? Who leads it? Why?

Word Verifier is TRISHR than Trish?!

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Seattle Citizen, we have a system that needs to be course corrected. How to do that is the $64K question. There are many ways to slice and dice this thing. One thing I know for sure is the people who are actually doing something instead of talking about it have the edge right now. Some of the doers are getting things done in a way you and I might like and some are not.

Personally I don't believe that a single test can tell the whole story about what a student knows. It's the system we live in right now because it's cheaper and it's easier. When we started TAF Academy we knew we'd have to play in this sandbox, but we put a premium on creating a quality learning environment where students had multiple ways to demonstrate their knowledge. Now after three years I can say our students can demonstrate their knowledge in multiple ways including in standardized tests.

I think the real ed reform movement should be around multiple measures of achievement, teacher development (pre and in service) and principal development.

StopTFA said...

Question: Is it true that the TAF Academy hired TFA teachers this year?

StopTFA said...

Never mind, I can always find out myself...

TFA for TAF with creative financing too!

seattle citizen said...

Thanks for the thougtful response, Trish. You write that "...we have a system that needs to be course corrected."
I'm wondering what you mean. It is true that many students still don't graduate, or don't have the skills they might want or need, depending on what job or school they choose or is forced on them upon graduation, but is this a fault of "the system"? If so, what systemic aspect to you attribute this to?

I believe is it is not the fault of a system but of individuals IN the system. I'm mainly happy with "the system" (elected officials in cities, using taxpayer funds, decide policy; superintendent manages principals who manage educators, each responsible to the policy the elected board enacts.)

I'm wondering what you mean by "the system needs to be course corrected." What are the basic, foundational pieces of public education that need to be "redirected" (to borrow a sort of disciplinary term from Response to Intervention!)

You also write that
"...the real ed reform movement should be around multiple measures of achievement, teacher development (pre and in service) and principal development."

I agree, but only where students, teachers, principals, superintendents and boards all operate on the assumption that every kid IS different, that there are many ways to learn, teach, manage teachers...In other words, I'm afraid that "the sandbox" (simple yearly or quarterly tests designed around some few "standards") has become, increasingly, THE metric.

I'm glad that TAF has seen fit to make sure it includes multiple measures, and, incidentally perhaps, "scores well" (because THOSE are the metrics looked at, now, by those ourside the school...with the money...) By your account, TAF uses a variety of teaching techniques to address individual need...as it should be.

Word Verifier is going for a PERIDE, a peri-ride, an aimless ride around...

StopTFA said...

"By your account, TAF uses a variety of teaching techniques to address individual need"

Seattle Citizen,

I remain skeptical that a TFA hire (of which there is more than a few) can learn differentiation with the minimal discussion of this topic in their summer academy; which consists of:

One 3 hour lesson focused on "Understanding Disability and the Continuum of Services"

Two pages in textbook discuss Academic Language development.

One 3 hour lesson focused on meeting the needs of ELLs

Four pages in a textbook, chapter entitled "Supporting English Language Learners"

Four pages cited above. Six pages on "Differentiating Instruction". Twelve pages on "Supporting Students with Special Needs", fourteen pages on "Supporting English Language Learners"

Eleven pages in Learning Theory is on "Learning Differences and Special Education".

But then again - what are the demographics of TAF? Are there any children with disabilities or ELL needs?

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Stop TFA, since you already knew the answer to your question, I'm not sure why you asked other than to do a "gotcha". Yes, we hired 2 TFA teachers. One for biology and algebra. The other for pre calc, physics and engineering.

TAF Academy is a neighborhood school with demographics that mirror the surrounding schools. We 11% special ed and about 2% that qualify for ELL services. You can find all that on the OSPI website.

Anything else you'd like to know, I'd be happy to provide. We are a transparent organization that shares warts as well as successes.

StopTFA said...

Well, I did my checking and got the answer myself. Margo Kinneberg and Emma Miller. Except I believe the latter quit two months into the year. That last point is not intended as a "gotcha" but if it turns out to be, so be it.

I found the FWPS emails discussing TFA's "creative financing" for district contributions quite interesting. That was pretty much what was going on in Seattle, until Norm Rice was browbeat into "paying" the fees "directly to" TFA.

Seeing as how I don't mind doing some research...I am interested in the types and levels of disability present among your students. My educated guess is predominantly Asperger's, but will make the usual inquiries.

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Stop TFA, why is it so hard for you to believe that someone can work with a district to start a school for typically underserved students? Is it not possible for this action to be good?

TAF Academy does not cream students, we don't have an application process, we accept all students. All we asked is that we don't have more than the district average of SPED and ELL students.

Why don't you come visit the school and see for yourself?

StopTFA said...

Of course it can be good, IF highly-effective teachers (which translates into experienced teachers) are provided for these underserved students. AND if any and all comers can attend. Too often, among "choice" or charter schools, the high-needs child is the can kicked down the road.

seattle citizen said...

Stop TFA, I found this part of the emails between TAF and WaSTEM, et al, interesting. Here we have Carolyn Landel of Washington Stem:
"...met with Lindsay [Hill, of TFA] on Friday and learned that given the challenges they are having with a 'vocal minority' opposition, they are being quite creative with the districts to try to minimize the burden on districts and ensure their corps members have an opportunity to be considered for available positions. If you have a corps member you hope to hire..."

Interesting...
1) I guess Federal Way and/or TAF has a different contract with TFA, allowing them to "head-hunt" for people to fill teaching positions: "If you have a corps member you hope to hire" implies that TFA people in Fed Way don't need to go through the interview process, or if they do, it's for show only as they have been pre-selected. Tough luck for the certified teachers applying, I guess...
2) TFA, WASTEM, and districts are playing footsy together to make sure TFA gets what it wants. So we've seen collusion between TFA, SPS, OSPI, and now WaStem and Federal Way/TAF, all meeting and talking and reinterpreting WAC and changing funding sources...all so non-certified people can take the place of certified teachers. As we saw here in Seattle, one school "picked" its non-certified TFAer out of a pool of almost a hundred certs and hired that non-cert. Nonsense! Why is TFA gaining such access to our state government and PUBLIC schools?
3) Nice to see " 'vocal' opposition" has been messing with the conspirators trying to get TFA into WA. Seems like it's been a non-starter here in Seattle: Let's keep it that way.

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Seattle Citizen, your assumption #1 is incorrect for TAF Academy. There was a full interview process. We simply agreed to include the TFA candidates in the interview pool if we found some we were interested in.

StopTFA said...

Given that the terms of the revised FWPS TFA contract are here for perusal, I'll go out on a limb and suggest that the SPS CBA is more restrictive than FWPS'. Given that I'm kind of busy, I would urge any and everyone to check. However, I will state, emphatically, that the FWPS Superintendent Neu appears FAR more concerned about the impact TFA hiring has on the morale of FWPS teachers, particularly those impacted by RIF, than our soon-to-be ex-Supt. It was the dichotomy between Neu's and Enfield's positions that particularly affected my feelings regarding Enfield's refusal to pursue or accept an invitation to be the permanent Supt. Neu appears particularly concerned on the affect TFA would have on the morale of the lion's share of his staff.

Not sure Ms. Dziko's thoughts on your points one and two. As to your third point: Yes.

StopTFA said...

BTW, I don't think this guy is TFA, but I may be wrong. Is this a Leap Year?

seattle citizen said...

Trish, can you comment on your rationale for hiring TFA over fully certified candidates?

Which two of the state mandates for emergency cert apply:

1) no candidates applying (shortage) or
2) specialized talent.

Why TFA?

Anonymous said...

Did one of the two hired TfA teachers quit her job? If so, what did your school do about the vacated position? If so, did it give you pause about hiring TfA teachers in the future? If so, why didn't you mention that the teacher threw in the towel in your post about the TfA hires you made this year?

These questions are for Ms. Dziko and are not gotcha questions because I don't know the answers to any of them.

--enough already

seattle citizen said...

Speaking of TFA leaving after a couple of months (and hey, we used to argue that it was bad that they left after a couple of YEARS!), the document StopTFA linked to says that "xxxxx was hired at Madrona [K-8; Seattle]before losing [her/his] position because [she/he] wasn't considered highly qualified..."

So Madrona hired a TFA but the TFA wasn't highly qualified. I hope they found that out before the school year started....

The document StopTFA links to says that Federal Way wanted to pull out of its contract with TFA. It says that they were worried how it would look to real teachers, who would be displaced on the same day as a planned press release extolling the new partnership with TFA ("Sorry! You're laid off! If only you were one of these bright shiny TFAers we're about to hire...")

Trish Millines Dziko said...

I'm going to attempt to answer your great TFA questions by first talking about the history of our hiring process. First and foremost, please recognize that we have a unique learning environment (fully interdisciplinary project based learning, STEM, etc.) that requires a certain kind of teacher to make it work. We set out to find teachers who know their content area and those who are entrepreneurs willing to learn new things, fully collaborate and discover new ways for their students to learn. We need teachers who can not only interact with students and staff, but can also interact with the various professionals who come on campus to participate in the teaching and learning process. We cannot work with teachers who are only comfortable working in a traditional learning environment. As you can imagine, that profile is not very easy to find for all grades and all subject areas, so we know that we'll have a mix of experienced teachers as well as those new to teaching.

Our first year we had an unhealthy mix of experienced and new--4 new and 3 experienced. One of the new teachers who came from a traditional college of education quit two weeks before school started. We replaced her with another new teacher who came from Chicago. Year two we got better at the timing on finding more experienced teachers and year three we hit it out of the park. Along the way we lost six teachers either by their choice or ours. Right now I can say we have an amazing teaching staff that has found their groove and continue to work through all the things required to build and nurture the learning environment we've invisioned.

This year we needed to fill two spots: precalc/physics and biology/algebra. As a small school located in a suburban school district, we have to get creative with how we find teachers because they're not just knocking on our door. We felt we had enough experience in our core of teachers and a solid professional development program to absorb new teachers (regardless of where they came from).

When we heard that Federal Way signed a contract with TFA, we saw it as a possible resource for teachers. We selected a small group from a larger pool to interview just like every other teacher that applied. We were all very disappointed (and frankly pissed off) when one of the teachers quit in October. She was doing as well as any first year teacher. We had a month's notice to find a new teacher and we found a guy (not a TFA person) with experience whose time as a substitute became a huge part of his actually "interview". Of course he has a steep learning curve because he came in after the summer PD. The remaining TFA teacher is doing quite well. She teaches precalc, physics and engineering to our juniors and seniors.

Will we work with TFA again? I'm not sure because that's the call of the principal. He's on the ground every single day and he'll use this experience to determine his next steps in hiring for the future.

Again, I would invite any of you to come visit our school. We have student led tours twice a month. If you come on a visit for educators you'll have a chance to talk with teachers and get to some of the nitty gritty on what it's like to teach at TAF Academy. Just let me know: trishmi@techaccess.org

StopTFA said...

What I am not clear on is whether TAF is covered under the FWPS CBA? Or perhaps it's one of those "innovation" schools we've been hearing so much about. If FWPS teachers agreed to go along with an MOU like the one SEA is trying to foist on members, then is it any surprise that FWPS has more TFA than SPS? But perhaps that's part of the "course correction" that started this conversation....

Anonymous said...

Ms. Dzito states:

We had a month's notice to find a new teacher and we found a guy (not a TFA person) with experience whose time as a substitute became a huge part of his actual(ly) "interview."

It seems like a rather convoluted way to say that this guy has a teaching certificate and some solid classroom experience.

However, he had to prove himself
in a teaching situation prior to being hired because he didn't have the summer PD (when that was all that the TfA hires had in total pedagogy training, plus no classroom experience).

Irony can be so ironic.

--enough already

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Enough already... enough already.

StopTFA said...

Yes, stop when it's enough already, which I hope to gawd is soon.

I would say the people have spoken: Charters, no; TFA, WTF? Graft and corruption among public officials, get the hell out; Rubberstampers, begone; Corporations and rich donors with "free speech" rights in campaign financing, best government money can buy; Like Fannie Mae and Freddic Mac in bed with the ten largest banks, PESB and OSPI get the hell out of bed with TFA and your legislative board chairs' biggest financiers.

WV: After a glass of wine, these actions would be "sperfet"

seattle citizen said...

Trish, you write that TAF is so unique that it "requires a certain kind of teacher...who know their content area...who are entrepreneurs [there's that free market terminology again] willing to learn new things, fully collaborate and discover new ways for their students to learn. We need teachers who can not only interact with students and staff, but can also interact with the various professionals who come on campus to participate in the teaching and learning process. We cannot work with teachers who are only comfortable working in a traditional learning environment."

Umm, hello, that describes most teachers I know: Knowledgeable in content, constantly learning new things, interactive with other adults...

Oh, and they've had a year or so of actually studying special ed, pedagogy, ed history, curriculum...and they've student taught for some months...AND they have the cert, the legal requirement in this state.

Trish, could you narrow it down for us? What was the justification for the "emergency certs" given to your TFAs who have no cert? Was it that no one applied for your jobs, or do they offer some particular skill (auto-shop; computer programming....) that is a rare category in a cert?

Surely you must have filled out the form asking the state for a waiver of cert, allowing you an emergency cert....what did you put down for the reason you hired someone without a cert, leaving all those teachers who worked hard for their certs in the lurch? Why TFA? The qualities you list above are the qualities expected in just about any certified teacher.

mirmac1 said...

SC,

I agree. I found those arguments particularly insulting and contrived. What, are teachers like "wha, ah kent talk no perfeshunals"?

Anonymous said...

The attacks on Ms. Dziko are evidence that some on this blog aren't at all interested in learning anything about the reasons some are involved in education reform and why "activists" are sometimes considered to want the "status quo".

For example, I was unaware that teaching project-based learning with a STEM focus in all subjects is taught in all colleges of education and thus has every traditionally certified teacher ready to take on such an assignment. I guess it's not true, but it's easier to slam someone who looks outside the box for instructors.

Ms. Dziko has invited you people to visit her school and see what it's like. But you'd rather pile on with "gotcha" questions, denigrating her choices and going so far as calling her a "conspirator". Doesn't make anyone seem the least open-minded. All that's left is an attack on STEM and project-based learning, but that critic has been quiet on this thread.

TAF does amazing things. Why don't you go see for yourselves? ASK the teachers what is different about the school. ASK the principal. ASK the students. ASK the parents. Look at the projects. They have exhibits every few months and they are open to the public. That's what I did. And what I saw was nothing like traditional schools.

There are several nontraditional options for students to do their work in class. They work in groups for everything from history to art to science. Kids who are ahead simply ask if they can go do other work elsewhere or work with another class. There are no special names for this and parents don't raise holy hell if a student with a different ability is in their kid's classroom. And so much more.

Make me

--Sad for Seattle

Melissa Westbrook said...

I am still hoping for the day when SPS reaches out to TAF and finds a way to bring them into our district. They have proven methods and work very hard.

Am I happy they hired TFA? Nope, but they are a private entity and can hire whoever they want.

The fact is that SPS dropped the ball on this one.

Trish spoke up to clarify something that Lynne Varner said in her piece. She invited anyone to come visit her school. I'm not sure she expected anyone to jump down her throat so what's up with that?

StopTFA said...

I disagree Melissa. TAF is its own Harlem Children's Zone in the NW. It benefits from state funding, as well as over $1.3M from the Gates-Allen bunch. Based on the FWPS website, its operating budget works out to $553/child while much other FW schools like Star Lake are at $123/child. The demographics for TAF are essentially the same with Star Lake and Sacajawea, except that latter two have an even higher rate of FRL students. Star Lake has more SpEd and is nearly 25% ELL.

Yes, its "private" in that it handles "talent management". According to OSPI, TAF did not meet 100% HQT, while the other schools mentioned did.

I'll leave the test score analysis to Dan Dempsey but at first glance the results were underwhelming.

So unless you want to be beholden to the Gates' and Bezos' of the world, I wouldn't be so hot to sign them up.

Anonymous said...

Sad for Seattle,

You are spot on. Ms Dziko has been quite honest re: TFA's experience. To focus on TFA and not look at the whole school leaves a very myopic view point and reflects more on the one note naysayers. The obsession over TFA does nothing to address the problem in our schools. Reading this thread has left me cranky because certificate teachers have taught my kids and of those teachers, about 4 are great, the majority are ok, and then there are about 6 that I wish just would retire or find something else to do besides teaching. Some of the principals shouldn't be principals either and should go back to teaching or better yet, go get a proper MBA and then they can find folks who talk like them.

I wish our schools were run more like TAF, not fixed monolithics. Even our alt is not so alternative anymore. I'm glad there are fixers out there working hard on the ground looking for solutions, willing to try new things, new approach, and move one when things don't work out.

Lilliput

WV: is agaststs

Trish Millines Dziko said...

StopTFA, who are you anyway? I'm out here in the open, talking about successes and failures and never ever claiming that TAF Academy is perfect or has all the answers. I'm sharing what we're doing and why. Open book.

All I see you doing is lobbing bombs at folks from behind your keyboard.

I have a lot of questions about your intentions, but I'll reserve them for when I meet you in person.

Since you like to challenge people so much, here's my challenge to you: Move from behind the comfort of your keyboard and come out to TAF Academy. And until you do, don't write another word about TAF or TAF Academy.

Can you work with that?

Dorothy Neville said...

-Enough Already,
I took TMD's PD comment to mean TAFs PD in collaboration and project based learning, nothing to do with TfA summer school.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I am a TAFA parent and I couldn't be happier with our choice to send our child there. I've never seen a group of kids happier to be in any school anywhere, public OR private. I have two older children and between the three have had kids in three states and have experience with public, private, Parochial and home school.

At TAFA teachers routinely stay well past "closing time" while at the private schools I've seen them on the road as the last bell rang. Kids BEG to stay late to do extra work. ALL the kids are accepted-REALLY-it is the first time that my child, always an "outlier" at her other schools, has been fully accepted. If kids need extra help, there is a period every day where they can get that. If they wish to work ahead or need a challenge, they get that too.

I could go on, but suffice to say that it's an amazing place. Sure we had some questions, my husband in particular, but we did the obvious thing by VISITING the school and seeing it for ourselves. It's totally worth the drive.

TAFA Mom

StopTFA said...

Lilliput, so this is not about TFA but about mediocre teachers and principals that need to retire??

Ms Dziko, please tell me where I've misrepresented anything? I went to the OSPI and FWPS websites as you recommended. Was the donor information on the TAF website incorrect? Is it necessary to question my intentions? I haven't questioned yours.

I have not directed any insults at Ms Dziko. And, frankly, I don't appreciate being accused of "gotcha" blogging. I have quite literally thousands of pages of information to slog through to come up with the facts (and opinions) I write about.

It seemed to take a few iterations to suss out TAF's hiring approach and their attitudes about teachers from a "traditional learning environment". I do appreciate Ms. Dziko's frankness relating to the annoyance and damage of a teacher quiting mid-year (certainty worse than quitting before the school starts). I am happy for the students that there was an experienced teacher available to pick up the ball.

seattle citizen said...

I'm not trying to nail Trish. I have heard that Taf DOES GOOD WORK (tho' if one sticks to the metrics that the state and others seem to limit themselves to, such as HSPE scores, et al, it might be that they are no better at THOSE than many other schools.) I appreciate TAF's focus. I appreciate that they have many dedicated educators (as do plenty of other "traditional" schools, and many alternative schools, as well.) My questions to Trish focused on TFA because TFA is a breach of law in Seattle, and I was wondering if it was at TAF, as well. I am truly wondering why TAF (or any school around here, for that matter) can just skip hiring a certified teacher, as law requires, and hire someone outside the certification process.

Did we here in Washington suddenly decide to change the certification law and I am unaware of it? Did we voters, or our elected officials, deem it un-necessaary for prospective teachers to have a certificate?

Seattle has not made a convincing argument as to why they needed to bypass certificated teachers: What was the "emergency" required as rationale? No one seems to know. TFA has, evidently, that certain je ne sais quoi that allows it to be "special," or outside certification, and I'm wondering what it is.

Trish has built quite a school, and there's no doubt about that. I congratulate her. But she has outside money, has the ability to bypass hiring practice (therefore rendering our state's certification process meaningless) but otherwise it doesn't appear that she is doing anything we can't do in the public system. There are already available soem alternatives to "traditional" schools, and publics are free to propose programs - it's our board and admins who hold the keys to that, but I wouldn't bypass THEM; they are our elected officials regarding our public schools...

TAF seems wonderful, no reason for me to visit to be aware of that, but my question is around TFA and how TAF bypassed certificated teachers to procure it.

Trish, care to answer? Why not hire a certificated teacher?

Anonymous said...

Stop TFA, you made your points fluently on this blog. But you do tend to bash anything and anyone who remotely acknowledge TFAs differently from your prespective. I personally don't see a need for TFAs in Seattle schools. On that I agree with you. My point is just because teachers are certificated does not make them suited to teaching. Just because they are TFAs does not mean they are all worthless or there isn't a place for them in a limited way.

TFA has been a distraction that takes away from the real conversation about our teachers, how can we help them improve, how can we produce better teachers, find alternative pathways to draw experienced folks (career changers) into teaching especially in areas like science, math, and technology. It is here I wish our teachers and their leaders would speak and offer solutions. One of the better thread on this was when people wrote in of their experience, frustration, and solution in trying to get their teaching credentials timely and without the overwhelming debt. The systemic problem described within our sclerotic teaching institutions is telling. To open it up, shake it all around, and find a better way to train our teachers, now there's an obsession worth sinking our teeth into.

Lilliput

StopTFA said...

Okay Lilliput, sorry if I came across as bashing.

Yes, TFA is a terrible distraction from Washington's already existing plan on how to improve teachers. To bad OSPI and the PESB agreed to this plan with the Feds, then promptly abandoned it. You will find this exhaustive plan (which includes reducing and/or eliminating conditional certificates) here.

Trish Millines Dziko said...

SC, I already answered your questions "Trish, care to answer? Why not hire a certificated teacher?" by explaining our who hiring process. Clearly you didn't like that, so I'm not sure how to help you here.

I think Lilliput said it best: "My point is just because teachers are certificated does not make them suited to teaching. Just because they are TFAs does not mean they are all worthless or there isn't a place for them in a limited way."

If you have issues about certification, etc., then take that up with the Federal Way School District. TAF Academy is a public school in their district. I'm sure they'd be happy to have somebody who doesn't have kids in their schools or live in their district questioning their processes and procedures.

SC, I don't know how else I can make you happy and I'm not inclined to try anymore. Sorry.

seattle citizen said...

No worries, Trish. You have made clear that you consider TFA to be a perfectly reasonable alternative to a certificate, no extenuating circumstance needed, apparently.

But the state requires a statement of those circumstances that merit bypassing the regular certification process, and I haven't seen those circumstances explained here in Seattle, or in your description of your hiring practices.

But no matter. It's nothing personal. I believe that the law, as written, requires a cert in the classroom. You evidently don't. But we can disagree,

Jan said...

seattle citizen: I don't like TfA. I think that, had it kept to what I have heard was its original purpose (a sort of peace corps-ish effort to put energetic, caring young adults into schools with NO available teachers other than maybe emergency certs who didn't want to be there and didn't care), I might have liked it. But I think it now operates under false pretenses, makes claims that it cannot back up (or that are outright false), and is hooked into a national ed reform campaign that is both expensive and very damaging to student learning.

That said -- I guess I think Trish and others have a point. If I were a fabulous college professor (and had earned my chops teaching -- not just doing research and publishing) -- and showed up at a high school asking to teach honors courses in my field to juniors and seniors -- I wouldn't be allowed to, because I hadn't been through some school's certificate program -- and to me, it makes no sense. It feels far more like a "barrier to entry" into the profession (like cosmetology and barber licenses) than a really useful, essential base for a career in the field (like medical and dentistry licenses).

I think there is a huge, and very interesting, discussion that could be had on how we train teachers, how much we charge them for the privilege, etc. Particularly since teaching is not like medicine (you don't graduate and then immediately have the ability to pull down a sizeable salary to repay student loans), I would love to see it become more like "reading for the law" used to be -- where seasoned, master teachers (or well run schools) took in candidates and put them immediately into training in classrooms -- with the idea that they would learn on the job, backed up by reading and video lectures on those topics that don't lend themselves to learning by doing. The return to the schoos (and the kids) would be immediate. The cost to the teacher candidate would drop to almost nothing. New teachers would learn very quickly whether they REALLY wanted to be teachers (and stay with the program) or not -- without wasting their money (and everyone's time).

I don't want to run willy nilly over the law -- as I think TfA in Seattle has done. But what really bothers me about TfA is NOT that they don't have the piece of paper to wave -- it is that they are not as well qualified (REAL qualification -- as in they don't teach as effectively) as most seasoned teachers -- AND in many cases -- they don't really WANT to be teachers long term (as witnessed by the mass exodus from the program in years 3 and 4) -- in which case, the kids are getting the short end of the stick, and so is society -- for all the time and money put into training short timers. In its current guise, TfA simply is not a good deal for ANYone -- except the TfA corps member -- who gets paid work for the first few years out of school, and a great resume line when they walk into Goldman, or Chase, or Apple, or wherever their next (REAL) career move takes them.

dan dempsey said...

Hey Jan,

I've heard this story a lot.... and I do not find it to be true.

If I were a fabulous college professor (and had earned my chops teaching -- not just doing research and publishing) -- and showed up at a high school asking to teach honors courses in my field to juniors and seniors -- I wouldn't be allowed to, because I hadn't been through some school's certificate program -- and to me, it makes no sense.

This is exactly why "Conditional Certificates" exist.

The Superintendent just check marks a box to indicate....

I confirm that the following is true:

The applicant is highly qualified and experienced in the subject matter to be taught and has unusual distinction or exceptional talent demonstrated through public records of accomplishment and/or awards.

The story you told of the "University Professor" certainly meets this "conditional certificate" qualification.

Consider that is the box that Enfield checked for every TfA corps member .... instead of the box the Board authorized her to check.

I learned that OSPI accepts all this stuff as absolutely true because the Superintendent confirms that it is true. After all Dr. Enfield signed the application confirming it to be true.

==========
By the way .... I taught with this University Professor in Bellflower, CA.

Richard Napier, chemist for about 20 years at University of Florida. Began teaching first year algebra in Bellflower CA ... Richard got credit for all his school credits... top of salary schedule for credits and 0 years of public school teaching experience. He was amazing and was teacher of the year his second year.

Eventually Richard even taught a Chem class and an honors Chem class.

Here is Richard's youngest daughter and the reason he wound up in SoCal was her acting... Here is what occupies her athletic time now=> Basketball

==========
Ask any board member or the superintendent to name ... an unusual distinction or exceptional talent demonstrated through public records of accomplishment and/or awards for even one TfA corps member.

There was no demonstration of this nor did the Board authorize Enfield to check that Box.

The only public record I could find on those applications was not being charged for breaking a bar window and paying $424. This is probably not the exceptional talent that merits a "conditional certificate".

Charlie Mas said...

It's funny.

So much of the problem with the Education Reform movement, the organized and funded part, is that it refuses to see students as individuals.

It would be a shame for those fighting for recognition of students as individuals refused to see teachers and principals as individuals. I don't care for the practice of considering these folks in job lots, one group called "certificated" and one group called "Teach for America".

If a certificated teacher failed in any way, would that reflect poorly on all other certificated teachers or the teacher certification process? I doubt it.

Let's not round people up and brand them like cattle. Instead, let's regard each human being as an individual with gifts and faults which are their own and no one else's.

The organized and funded Education Reform movement often casts their opposition as supporting the status quo. We reject that label and insist that we want a change, but a different kind of change. I'd like to see more of that.

If there was an honest hiring process and the people charged with the decision honestly found candidate A a better choice than candidate B, then I have no basis to second-guess that decision. I'm sure that there were hundreds of tiny factors that contributed to the decision - as there is for any hiring decision. Sometimes the decisions work out; sometimes they don't. It's a human system and cursed with human error and the uncertainties of human futures.

I'm don't have the duty of hiring teachers at TAF Academy, but I think that their track record indicates that, for the most part, the people doing that job are doing it well. I think they have earned the trust placed in them and we should continue to extend that trust.

We have to trust the caring professionals on the front line to make good decisions and we owe it to them to provide them with the freedom to make the best decision possible.

seattle citizen said...

I'm with you on supporting the trust at schools, Charlie. But not when a process (certification) is bypassed willy-nilly, so as to render it meaningless. Jan suggests we are ripe for a re-evaluation of the cert process, and that is probably true, given new teaching methods, etc. But it appears that TFA has become merely an end-run around the process we, the citizens, have (through our officials) set in place.

Regarding grouping TFAers: I am sure there are plenty of potentially excellent teachers amongst the TFAers. I'm not trying to single them out. My problem is with the process.

Along with Dan, I disagree that a college professor can merely switch over to teaching - that IS why there are certain things we want by way of preparation - special ed knowledge, ad dev, etc. If the college professor has some unique area of skill, and there is a demand for that skill not being filled by a cert, then yes, give the prof a try on a conditional.

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

Trish, thank you for being part of this discussion but it is fruitless. If I were you I'd bow out about now and not go down the rabbit hole. SC and Stop TFA are completely closed minded. They have an opinion and are shut down to any form of discussion. They are not reasonable or rational and won't consider a word that you have to say even though you are in the trenches slinging the mud, doing the dirty work, and learning what works (and what doesn't work). They are simply not interested in in broadening their perspectives. You might as well go bang your head against a wall about a hundred times - you'd get more satisfaction out of that.

Please don't let any of them discourage you from doing the work that you are doing. Many of us do appreciate your commitment.

Funny thing is that SC has stated (in past threads) that he is an SPS teacher. To me this really helps me to understand Trish's desire to include TFA teachers in the TAF candidate pool. I'd take an inexperienced but willing to learn, open minded TFA teacher over an experienced, certificated teacher, that was completely closed minded and shut down to learning and change, any day. Any day.

Someone

anonymous said...

And I should add that I think this closed minded mentality is exactly why charter schools will eventually come to Seattle. To many people refuse to try new things, work together, and have an open mind. If we can't work together to reform our district in a holistic, grass roots kind of way, someone else (IE KIPP, et al) will do it for us.

Someone

seattle citizen said...

Someone, did I not say that I am open to examination of the cert process? Is being concerned about an end-run around that process being "close-minded"?

Yes, it would take some convincing to get me to believe that someone with little training and no experience is a better hire than someone with training and experience. If that makes me close-minded, so be it.

But I guess character assassination is a tactic in your play book, so carry on. It's a common tactic for those unwilling to debate a topic on its merits, so do what you need to do.

seattle citizen said...

"Too many people refuse to try new things, work together, and have an open mind. If we can't work together to reform our district in a holistic, grass roots kind of way, someone else (IE KIPP, et al) will do it for us. "

But plenty of people do plenty of things all the time to work together and try new things. This is a red herring. Are you unaware of the various and sundry things educators, admins and others do all the time to change things up?

Yet another tactic: Complain about a non-existent problem in order to bolster your argument.

But you have a point: If Reformers come in from the outside, and use their money and their connections to make end-runs around process in order to do what they want to do without the input or vote of those impacted...That would be a problem. See the current hub-bub over the WPTSA being manipulated by Stand For Children - no "working together" there - just an undemocratic manipulation in order to get what Stand wants. Forget working with parents and teachers - Stand (A4E, LEV, OSC, etc etc etc) know what's best, they're going to bring it to us, there will be no discussion, there will be no modification....THERE'S crappy engagement and collaboration for you. In the buildings, people collaborate all the time.

StopTFA said...

Someone,

Closeminded? because I have facts not talking points? Facts I drew from public records, OSPI, FWPS and TAF's school profile? Perhaps I should just expound on closing the achievement gap and on the complexities of ed reform? Who's more on the ground than families and teachers? We don't have $1M of Gates money. We don't even have textbooks! Yeah, what do we know.

I'm an engineer and expect reason and logic to prevail. Pulling a recent college-grad and figuring they know how to teach "project-based learning", well that's a gamble that pays off, apparently 50% of the time. Sh*t! even grad school at Stanford doesn't teach how to teach "project-based learning".

I'm a voter and taxpayer and expect laws and regulations to govern. The extent that state regulators, institutions, and district officials went to subvert federal and state law to grease the skids for this org is ridiculous. Is that important? Or does the end justify the means? Placing well-intentioned but undertrained young people in classrooms with disadvantaged students should be what this is all about, right? Even of it means driving dedicated, trained and skilled teachers to say to hell with this I don't need the disrespect.

As for Charlie, who's casting aspersions at TFA teachers? I sympathize with a young person who recognizes her mistake (for that is what she said, according to my reports, "I have made a terrible mistake". Who among us in our early twenties did not do the same?) But take a look at the TFA twitter feed. It is non-stop marketing "sign up now", "save the world!", "make a difference". Just substitute University of Pheonix or Cappella University in there and it's a constant barrage of marketing. On the org level, it's not about the kids, it's about getting that market share, baby.

But Someone is close-minded and will be happier in charter schools with undertrained, underpaid, high-turnover teaching staff? Wait, I didn't say that because that would be mud-slinging.

Happy New Year at your new charter school!

Was-Someone said...

Just to be clear - the anonymous "someone" posting the recent items is not me - who has been posting for the last 6 months or so under the nomiker Someone. I do NOT share the same thinking at all. I was trying to stick to the same name but guess I'll have to change it now. :(

StopTFA said...

Oops, sorry Someone, I meant someone.

seattle citizen said...

You're still Someone, Someone. This happened to me, too, a couple of months ago: Someone else, uh, I mean another person (!) started using "Seattle Citizen" as a moniker, and when I asked, the blog admins removed those posts. I first commented to that other Seattle Citizen, letting them know I was going to do that, so they could save their comments under some other moniker.

I was just thinking about this, thinking how I'd read Someone in the past and hadn't felt that they were...character assasinators, and here we find it is indeed Some Other One.

Anonymous said...

Stop TFA,

You have done an incredible service by exposing the emails, connections and lies that make TFA its own walking time bomb.

Had Joe the Plumber come up with this plan--put untrained teachers into schools with the most vulnerable students and then, even after credible research studies have proven its ineffectiveness, expand it to districts with surpluses of highly trained teachers--the liberal masses would have gone ballistic. Can you picture Susan Enfield discussing this ridiculous plan over lunch at Dick's with a Joe the Plumber type
(my apologies to Dick's)?

This fiasco is all about money, social prestige (Wendy Kopp's thesis and her connections from Princeton) and a lot of wannabes and stonesteppers (see Susan Enfield and Strickius?--I have managed keep forgetting his name).

And, Charlie, if I didn't know better (and I don't), I'd think you have been having some social meetings with this crowd, given how your positions have flip-flopped so dramatically in the past several months, and you rarely respond when careful readers bring up your own contradictory words from less than six months ago. You are even using the same linguistic patterns as these folks, like Paul Hill and friends. FYI.

Thanks, again, TFA. Your good work led to the collapse of Steve and Peter. Allowing Susan to speak for herself in those emails you exposed (along with her
firing of Martin Floe) took a lot of us back to the middle school mean girls and we didn't like what we saw.

This whole debacle would be funny in an Onion-sort-of-way were the victims of this experiment not our most vulnerable students (mostly of color) living in poverty.

--enough already

anonymous said...

You are closed minded Stop TFA and SC because you didn't even stop to ask Trish what her experience has been?You didn't ask her what was working (or not working)? You didn't ask her what her how having professionals from the community come in and work with the students has been? How project based learning has worked for TAF's students? How Federal Way has supported TAF (when SPS wouldn't).

Take a breath. Slow down. Ask the people on the ground what they are doing, and what is working. Try to absorb what they say instead of just knee jerk rejecting everything. You just might learn something.

To not ask questions, and try to learn, is closed minded. To reject automatically is closed minded. To completely disregard all aspects of what the TAF academy is because they hire TFA recruits is closed minded.

Try listening for a chance. You just might learn something new.

someone

seattle citizen said...

someone (else) at 5:08,

Look back at the comments. Trish mentioned Ed Reform so I asked her about that. TFA was introduced so I asked her about that.

Of course I have strong opinions about those two things, and I asked her about her perspective on them.

My comments weren't asking about what TAF is doing (you'll note in my comments that I say I've heard they do good things, etc...and I have) becuase that's not what we were discussing, we were discussing Ed Reform and TFA.

I didn't "completely disregard all aspects of what the TAF academy is because they hire TFA recruits," and that you would suggest that I did is...odd. Why are you misrepresenting me?

I find your suggestions condescending, that I "Ask the people on the ground what they are doing, and what is working....Try listening for a chance. You just might learn something new."

Like I don't do these things already? Get real, and stop trying to paint a picture of me as some sort of "stuck in my ways" dinosaur (as opposed to those shiny bright Reformers, eh?) We've all caught onto that schtick years ago, and it doesn't work. Even tho' your tone is more moderate in that last comment (you sound almost...conversational!) please note that your are continuing to try to paint me as something I'm not. "Try listening!" you exhort from on high. Ha. As if I don't.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"If we can't work together to reform our district in a holistic, grass roots kind of way, someone else (IE KIPP, et al) will do it for us. "

Okay, so how is IE or KIPP "holistic"?

Jan said...

Seattle Citizen said: "But it appears that TFA has become merely an end-run around the process we, the citizens, have (through our officials) set in place."

I totally agree. The "problem" -- as I (one who also does not like the (certification) process that my fellow citizens have put in place) see it is this -- there are lots of folks out there who see "problems" with the process. That "hole" -- the fact that many people would like to see the teacher training program change/we don't like the various COEs, we think the curriculum is light on substantive knowledge, etc. -- becomes a misused "weapon" in the hands of the Ed Reform crowd. They attempt to leverage dislike of the current system into SUPPORT for THEIR system.

Well, I DON'T like their TfA system (at least not what it has morphed into). And yet, I still am not a fan of the current system of teacher certification (too expensive, too little hands on time in class, too politically correct (at least in some curricula), too little emphasis on substantive knowledge (in upper grades), too rigid, -- I could go on and on.

The goal, I think, for those who see great harm in TfA, is to find common ground with not only those who are satisfied with the current certification system, but also with those who want good, seasoned, committed enthusiastic, in-it-for-the-long-haul teachers in classrooms, but who might be interested in changes in how we go about identifying, training, and hiring them.

Because the Ed Reform folks are out there, right now, trying hard to hide their privatization agenda while they try to co-opt that same group of folks into supporting the LEV charter school proposal, TfA, Common Core standards, etc. etc. Ed Reform has all (or most of) the money. But those who are opposing Ed Reform have the facts and the data -- as well as logic. The question is whether money and political influence will drown out facts and analysis (it can certainly happen -- just look at the invasion of Iraq -- not fact based, but lots of jingoistic political enthusiasm in high places -- enough to drown out the voices (and there were many) questioning whether there were weapons of mass destruction, whether al-Qaida had any presence in Iraq, etc.

I have no problem with hiring people who are good at teaching to teach, whether they have a certificate or not. I have a huge problem with contracts that require districts to hire TfA corps members (ours doesn't but many do -- and that is their standard ask, I believe) who in some cases are NOT particularly good at teaching (yet) when there are better teachers available (which is absolutely possible in a district that has committed to taking (and paying that odious finders fee) for X number of TfA recruits).

None of this, of course, has anything to do with TAF (peace and blessings be upon you, Trish). I agree with Charlie here -- when you have great school management (like TAF evidently does), let the great managers find and hire the best folks they can find. I am beginning to wonder if maybe the whole certificate thing is at least in part, a tacit admission that we have horrible HR staffs at the District level, and insufficiently qualified principals and hiring teams at the school level -- so we have developed certification as a crutch. We CAN'T do what Charlie suggests, and just rely upon competent management to find and hire good teachers.

seattle citizen said...

Jan,
While I think the cert process could be revamped, I wonder at some of your concerns with the current system:
"too expensive" - Do you mean the grad school work? That potential certs have to pay for the credit? I don't know if I agree or disagree, but isn't the grad school part sort of like the advanced learning we expect of many, if not most of our professionals these days?

"too little hands on time in class" - I think you mean in a clssroom (as opposed to college class), but many grad programs require up to half a year (months observing, six weeks or more student teaching.) I, too, would like more time, but the time I see added on would be mentored time in addition to the time students already do student teaching - for instance, their first year would be probationary (as it already is)but they would have guaranteed support in the form of a master teacher or mentor.

"too politically correct (at least in some curricula)" - Yes, this is true, but this is true in many of the social sciences, etc, in colleges. To change this, you'd have to revampt the whole PC thing everywhere, which would take some doing. Addiitonally, there is certainly some merit to some of the things that are "PC."

"too little emphasis on substantive knowledge (in upper grades)" - I think you are referring to content area knowledge? Hmmmm...yes, in a way there is a disconnect - some students have the content knowledge from undergrad work, some don't...It seems to be a mixed bag. But what do you do? Many people who are expert in some aspects of whatever, and might make great teachers, might be ignorant in other areas of their content area...Perhaps PD time, instead of being spent on endless "reforms" etc, were spent more on content area collabortion (which happens currently, but ata woefully slow pace as the time for it is not allocated.)

"too rigid" - Not sure I agree. There are a variety of programs, and while they have to follow certsain requisites for state cert, they do so in a variety of ways. I think you're referring to how allowance might not be made for people coming into the profession from work or whatever, and how it might be nice if it was easier for them to get a cert? Maybe, but they DO need, in my opinion, some basic background knowledge which they don't get managing an IT office or designing buildings...

anonymous said...

"Okay, so how is IE or KIPP "holistic"?"

Of course Kipp isn't holistic. What I meant was that if we want holistic, grass roots reform in SPS we have to do it ourselves. We have to find middle ground and work together. And that doesn't seem to happen very much in the over process, knee jerk "no", activist territory that is Seattle. But if we can't work together and find middle ground and forge forward (and I'm not optimistic that we can based on the comments posted in just this thread) then charters will come along and reform us their way which will be the opposite of holistic and grass roots.

To many people have a knee jerk "no" reaction to every and any idea put forth. They believe there is a conspiracy behind everything. They believe the folks offering to fund new and innovative ideas (Gates, et al) are evil and want to take over the world. They are not open to trying public/private partnerships (like TAF proposed here). This mentality of refusing to take the blinders off will be, in my opinion, our downfall.

Someone

seattle citizen said...

Someone 7:03 (as opposed to the first Someone):

There are plenty of people, here on this blog and throughout the city, who have collaborated, who do collaborate, and who will collaborate. Just not with entities who are, in effect, "outsiders" trying to manipulate opinion and process in order to get what they want. In my case, I am indeed in an uncollaborate mood with, for instance, a small group of parents I joined a couple of years back, in order to discuss and address certain problems in the district. This group was composed of parents that might be considered disenfranchized. We met many times, I spent many of my volunteer hours working with this group, then I saw its name added to the list of groups associated with Our Schools Coalition - OSC, as I'm sure you're aware, was a Strategies 360 product spun off off the Alliance to influence contract negotiations. They corralled as many of the minority groups in the city to add to their list, along with a couple of politicos. Their only purpose was to publicize a crappy "survey" that purported to support their goals, which were the same "SERVE goals our Broad superintendent "served" to the union after the union and the district had collaborated to come up with a new evaluation system. "SERVE" went much further.

So the collaborative group I had joined had, without my knowledge, become part of the Broad/Gates machine, serving as their "beard" to lend them some sort of legitimacy. There's collaboration for ya. And note also that the collaboration between teachers (as represented by their union) and the district in coming to new ideas about evaluation was almost blown out of the water by the intrusive actions of the "outside" Broad Foundation through its minion, the then-superintendent.

Lots of people can and do collaborate. The frustration you hear from me, the distrust of "reform," is solely based on the UNcollaborative actions of Gates, Broad, et al. I think I speak for many when I say that the back-room manipulations, the long, long string of them ("MAP is to evaluate STUDENTS! Oh, wait, and teachers!" or "Only 17% of students are college ready!" or "the opinion of educators don't matter!" or "those vocal minority opposition people don't matter!" or "The WPTSA, all of us, every dang parent and teacher, just luvs charter schools!....), all these power plays behind the scenes of what is OUR public school system makes me very, very leary of collaborating with THEM. I will, of course, continue to collaborate with citizens of this city who are doing the hard work to address issues as we can, but I dare say I won't collaborate with what are, really, scandalous manipulations of the democratic process.

I suspect my feelings about this are reflected in a wide range of people, people who disagree with me on some ideas and suggestions, but share my abhorrence of the games being played in smoke-filled rooms behind our backs.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, but LEV is not looking for grassroots;they're advocating for only established charters like KIPP. So mucho or innovation. And fluid, ALL our alternative schools WERE grassroots and slowly got undermined by non-innovative gatekeepers. It can be done but it's not the fault of "knee-jerk" people who don't want new ideas. We just don't want to get shot down.

anonymous said...

I don't think I mentioned anything about LEV Melissa? I'm talking about folks here in Seattle being willing to work together, try new things, and see what works - since we know some things are not working as they are. Sometimes we are right to defend our territory, but other times we need to open our minds and give new things a try - like TAF (such a loss for SPS that we ran Trish off).

Families want change and if doesn't happen one way it will happen another way. So in a way we have a choice. But that is just my opinion so take it for what it's worth.

Someone

Anonymous said...

If TFA is so illegal, why is it here? Doesn't seem those supporting the ouster of TFA have proved their case.

To me, this says it all:

One thing I know for sure is the people who are actually doing something instead of talking about it have the edge right now.

Right on. We've got tons of problems. And, a lot of duds in the classroom. Sure, not all duds, but enough to matter, enough to really add up in a negative way. If nobody does anything about this - then it will be up to groups like TFA and charters (with all their problems), not to mention TAF, to provide alternatives. So complain all you want - you're swimming in the wrong direction.

-parent

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons we chose TAFA is that as the mother of three who's had kids in schools in three different states, as the oldest of 5 siblings and the aunt to 7, I can say with complete conviction that there are MANY types of learning and MANY types of teaching and that means, to me, that there ought to be MANY ways to train, and find, teachers.

TAFA is great for my daughter and would have been for her older brother, had it existed at the time he was in school. My middle kid-not so much. A niece I have would have excelled anywhere with any teacher, while her sister is doing well now ONLY as an online-only college student due to severe anxiety. She had several "properly" trained and certificated teachers who not only didn't know how to teach her, they treated her like an unmotivated or LD student, and she was neither.

What I don't understand is that many readers and contributors on this blog are advocates of individualized instruction, yet many of you are also opposed to TFA or, it seems, some are opposed to ANY non-traditional certifications. If there should be individualized TEACHING, shouldn't there also be many methods to find these teachers?

If they are all trained the same way, why would they all be able to offer a multitude of instruction? It makes no sense. A Montessori teacher absolutely learns different child development theories than a Waldorf one does and they both learn different teaching methods than those in colleges of ed. TFA is different yet again. So why the insistence on a one true way, when there ISN'T one?

TAFA Mom

StopTFA said...

TAFA Mom,

On the matter of teacher training, I supposed TFA's U-ACT partner, the UW, said it best when it submitted its alternative route program to the PESB. As you can see in this link (italics mine), TFA preparation ranked limited to moderate in 11 out of 14 important (at least in how the PESB measures it) areas of competence, including:

Utilizing Instruction Strategies

Differentiating Instruction

Community Building

Cultural Competence

Teaching for Understanding

Preparing Students to Be Responsible Citizens

Learner-Centered Teaching

Integrating Technology

Involving and Collaborating with Families and Communities

The only thing the UW found them to be strong in is:

Ensuring Students Articulate Learning Goals (that would be TFA's "big idea", their quotes)

Aligning Instruction with Standards

Utilizing Feedback and Reflection to Improve Teaching Practice

These last three illustrate (even to UW profs) that TFA trains their corps members to teach to the test. How project-based learning figures in that should show in their MSP results.

Parent, insider trading is illegal, so why does it happen? Because regulators are lazy, in bed with Wall Street, or just don't enforce the law. Go figure.

TFA Summer Training Comparison

Anonymous said...

Stop TFA,

Teach to the test is not reserve for TFA. My kids' schools are doing just that with MSP and MAP. Just proctor a couple of these test sessions and volunteer in the classroom and you see what gets emphasized and when. It is here already. No need for TFAs.

living it

StopTFA said...

I don't doubt it. That's apparently the right direction so I guess we just swim with it.

Anonymous said...


Utilizing Feedback and Reflection to Improve Teaching Practice


TFA is good at this? Well, that's pretty important. My kids' teachers rarely if ever do this. I'd love for somebody to reflect upon what they're doing, and notice whether or not they actually taught anybody (everybody) the intended material, and then do what it takes to teach it. That loop is absent in our public schools.

As others have noted, if the current crowd refuses to deal with it, somebody else will - one way or the other.

STOP-TFA - talk is cheap. Anybody can claim "illegal". Anybody can claim "insider trading". But, you know, you've got to prove it or you're nothing. Actions baby.

-parent

Anonymous said...

Dan Dempsey has tirelessly reported the peer reviewed studies
of TFA outcomes on this blog. The research is clear: Compared to new teachers who have a certificate, the TFA teachers are significantly inferior.

These are the facts. The facts are also that this very flawed experiment is being done on our children who are most vulnerable.

The so-called "actions baby" are in the research, not in opinion. Students should not be lab experiments, especially when the experiments have been proven to be detrimental.

Alternative routes to certification
that prove effective would be most welcome.

--enough already

StopTFA said...

The only group that reports they can "prove it or you're nothing. Actions baby" are TFA and their "internal metrics." As Dan Dempsey has, singly, shown is, nobody really cares about data unless it supports their desired results.

anonymous said...

Stop TFA, have you asked Trish how her TFA teacher is working out? If that teacher is meeting, not meeting, or exceeding expectations of a 1st year teacher? If the learning curve has been the same, less than, or greater than a traditionally trained certificated teacher? Trish has been pretty honest and transparent thus far. I'd ask her and other people on the front lines who are working with TFA recruits what their experience has been like - instead of limiting all of your opinions to what you read online.

When I was looking for an elementary school for my child I remember reading the OSPI data on one of the schools we were interested in and automatically assuming it was the best school around because of it's very high test scores. And I remember discounting another school because of it's mediocre test scores. It wasn't until I visited both schools and talked to the teachers, the principal and other parents, looked at the artwork on the walls, and got a vibe for the heart and soul of the school that I realized the school with the mediocre test scores was actually a much better fit for my kid socially and emotionally. And it was much more diverse which was a big plus for us. Never would have known that if I didn't get off my behind and check the schools out in person.

Talk to Trish and get her feedback. Go visit TAF. Ask if you can sit in on her TFA teachers class. Then report back here. I'd be much more inclined to listen to what you have to say after you do that.

Someone

seattle citizen said...

"the school with the mediocre test scores was actually a much better fit for my kid socially and emotionally."

Ah, so the bare metrics used by the Big Ed Reform "movement" (cough-marketing campaign-cough), the state test scores, aren't really a good indicator of the education a student is getting.

Education is about more than test scores!
I agree, Someone.

Interestingly, TFA touts its success ONLY on test scores (and their training materials are designed, it appears merely to produce test scores....)

StopTFA said...

Frankly, someone, I'm not interested in trying to convince you. I let the public records documents speak for themselves. Likewise, there is plenty of "student data" that does likewise. TAF will rise to the top if it succeeds. I have my views about the myriad Gates-funded efforts to influence public opinion. Ultimately you are free to draw your own conclusion, which seems to be that we should all go along to get along or shut the hell up. That's fine. You and parent can feel that way. I won't lose sleep over that.

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

"the school with the mediocre test scores was actually a much better fit for my kid socially and emotionally."

Ah, and this is an important point for charters. Turns out that some research shows that a charter school may not be doing any better than a student's previous school (or even worse) BUT if the parent perceives it as THEIR choice and has a comfort level with the school, the parent will give up the possibility of greater academic outcomes in favor of a choice that is comfortable and safe.

Interesting.