Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesday Open Thread

Talked to some friends over holiday dinners and heard an interesting take on Enfield's departure.  I have put forth that I don't believe it was the election results as (a) two of the incumbents were returned and (b)I believe she has a new job and could not have waited for the election results, applied and gotten a new job in a month. 

So a friend said that maybe Enfield was able to see raw results from the School Board's survey and it didn't skew her way.   That could be.

What's on your mind?

37 comments:

Brian M. Rosenthal said...

This story was kind of buried in The Times last week, and I'm curious to hear what you guy thoughts about it:

Analysis of School Board results reveals unexpected trend

Thanks to Chris Jackins for finding this out.

--
Brian M. Rosenthal
Seattle Times education reporter
http://www.twitter.com/brianmrosenthal

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

Brian, that is interesting. I would have thought Sundquist would be more unpopular in W Sea for sure, but as board pres. he was in the paper a lot recently saying dumb stuff to try to put a positive spin on bad news - I'm saying this might have gotten McLaren more votes city-wide.

Likewise, Peter got the small business thing hung on him becuase he had seen the report and not passed it on. I don't know how widely known that was, but even $tand for Children thought he was too much of a hot potato

dan dempsey said...

At 10 AM this morning an OPEN LETTER was sent to the Board.

It contained the following introduction to the attached letter:

Dear Seattle Public Schools Directors,

Attached is an open letter to you from eight concerned adults. It outlines why the District should withdraw from the TfA contract.

If the Directors are concerned with closing achievement gaps, they need to demonstrate that concern.

The Directors have never carefully reviewed all options for closing achievement gaps. The decision to allow TfA corps members to teach in Seattle was based on deception, shoddy research, and apparently part of the Ed Reform plans for the district. The Mathematica study of 2004, which was a central piece of evidence in Action Reports, compared a TfA corp member group with a non-TfA group that was not composed of fully certificated teachers. This study could not possibly have any application to the Seattle situation.

The repeated actions of the Board in TfA matters demonstrated callous disregard for the academic needs of educationally disadvantaged learners and ignored the legal requirements of WAC 181-79A-231.

Please withdraw from the TfA contract by February 1, 2012.

In letters and Board testimonies the question was repeated: When was the WAC required "careful review" performed? and Directors never answered.

Sincerely,

Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

======================
Per contract termination requirements

The Board can withdraw from the TfA contract for the 2012-2013 school year by giving 120 days notice before the end of this school year. That would be around February 15, 2012.

Cliff Mass Weather Blog said...

Brian,
The results you noted are perhaps not unexpected. Sundquist and Maier campaigned hard in their districts and had a lot of local interactions there. This would work to bolster their votes. On the other hand, the general bad news about the district and the message of the challengers produced majorities for the challengers elsewhere. A fascinating and depressing aspect of this election is the anti-democratic sentiment of the "reform" education crowd--including LEV, Alliance, and the ST editorial page....cliff mass

PS: You are doing a wonderful job.

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

Lessee, Impatient Optimist's post...this Gate's Ed Reform blog post is authored by Gina Wickstead who, along with principal Mia Washington and one other warm body, interviewed and found no less than three, count 'em THREE TFAers more qualified than scores of certified teachers to teach at Aki Kurose.

dan dempsey said...

Here is Harium's response to the OPEN LETTER above:

Dear Mr. Dempsey

I have received your letter from you and the “eight concerned” adults. This is a topic that we disagree with each other. The board has voted, the teachers are in place and the students are learning. The district and the board are working hard in partnership with our school staffs to close the opportunity gap in our city. There is progress being made. It is not a rapid as I would like but turning a ship of this size does take time.

Regards,
Harium Martin-Morris
School Board Director for District III

=================
Here is my response:

Director Martin-Morris,

Thank you for your response. As I have pointed out over the last five years: to improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.

You wrote: The district and the board are working hard in partnership with our school staffs to close the opportunity gap in our city.

The progress that is being made is minimal or in some cases nonexistent. The need for a careful review of all options for closing achievement gaps by the District has been repeatedly ignored and a generation of students has been poorly served. In failing to require that careful review before authorizing the Superintendent to seek conditional certificates, you ignored WAC 181-79A-231 and violated your oath of office as a Seattle School director.

I again urge you to withdraw from the TfA contract on or before February 1 by sending written notice to TfA of termination.

Sincerely,

Danaher M. Dempsey, jr.

StopTFA said...

Who else writes on Bill's blog? To name a few.

"Gary Darmstadt (20)
Christopher Elias (2)
Melinda French Gates (55)
Bill Gates (41)
William H. Gates Sr. (3)
Allan C. Golston (2)
Amie Newman (31)
Vicki Phillips (11)
Jeff Raikes (9)"

Gee Ms Wickstead is in rare company. Do you think they'd let me post?

seattle citizen said...

Mr. Rosenthal,

Big money is stealing democracy again, this time in public education.

In looking at undemocratic practices in public education, take a look at Seattle Education, particularly links like the one posted by Anonymous 12:21, to Seattle Ed blog’s long-running investigation of “coalitions” and “alliances” and “stands” (LEV, A4E, OSC, S4C, etc etc ad infinitum) that are merely massively funded arms of just a few “reform” agitators (Gates, Broad, Walton, et al). These groups are, really, just lobbying arms of the foundations and are, hence, undemocratic.
Also, in addition to (as Cliff Mass puts it) the “fascinating and depressing aspect of this election [being] the anti-democratic sentiment of the "reform" education crowd--including LEV, Alliance, and the ST editorial page…,” consider the opinion of David Brewster, broadcast through his Publicola blog-paper. Brewster once (well) represented “the left” in this city, but has sold out. In his recent press release from the Gates Foundation, which funds Publicola, he opines that democracy is, indeed for sale; that elected board members can be “insurgents”; that democratically elected board members are “micromanaging” when they do their jobs and that a leader is made powerless by the elected board…Oh, heck, read his piece yourself,Two big shockers for Seattle schools and cops, and also read Save Seattle School comments on it here:David Brewster's Defense of the Establishment

Eric B said...

Dan, I hate to say this, but I'm (partially) with Martin-Morris on this. I'm assuming (there's a dangerous word) based on the letter that you're asking for an end to the TFA contract plus the removal of the current TFA teachers from the classroom. If that's not the case, then let me know.

Removing the teacher from the classroom halfway through the year is a huge disruption. It doesn't make any sense to do this unless the teacher is completely incompetent. I've seen an abrupt teacher replacement first-hand, and I think it set the students back by at least a week or two.

We should absolutely be out of the TFA contract for next year, and we shouldn't hire any more TFA trainees. Whether the ones we have now should stay, I don't know. It would depend on their individual talent and evaluations, not to mention willingness to keep teaching.

dw said...

I agree with Eric, but I'm not sure Dan is actually calling for the current TfA teachers to be released mid-year. At least I hope not. Unless a teacher is absolutely incompetent that type of action is far more disruptive than a week or two to the kids.

The contract should be voided and no additional TfA members should be hired in subsequent years. I think that's pretty clear, and I'm optimistic that will happen.

With almost 1/2 the school year behind us, the handful of existing TfA teachers should be evaluated on their merit no differently from any other teacher. If one of them is absolutely terrible, perhaps a mid-year dismissal wouldn't be out of line, but it would have to be pretty blatant.

dan dempsey said...

Eric B,

Thanks for the question.

In Joy Anderson's appeal of the TfA authorization by the Board to allow Enfield to request conditional certs .. the remedies sought by her are:

----- ---- ---- ----
VIII. REQUEST FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Appellant requests the following relief:
a. That the court order the Respondents cease authorizing the superintendent to apply for additional conditional certificates for TFA corps members.

b. That the court order the Respondents to conduct a careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps in the Seattle Public Schools at all grade levels. This review must involve public engagement and the intelligent application of relevant data.

c. That the court order Seattle Public Schools to discontinue requesting conditional certificates for all TFA corps members on the grounds that circumstances warrant the issuance of such certificates. The “circumstances” are not sufficient for requesting conditional certificates because the requirements of WAC 181-79A-231 are not satisfied.

d. That the court order the Respondents, in all cases, to hire fully-certificated teachers that are highly qualified to teach in their appointed subject area, when available.
e. Such other relief as the court may deem just and equitable.

--------------------

We (the group of 8) never sought to remove any of the current corps members who are teaching in classrooms. We are seeking an end to a program that never should have started in Seattle. The Directors letter of withdrawal from the contract needs to be sent by around Feb 15 to TfA to be effective for 2012-2013 school year.

=====
I see this as quite a simple choice. Does the current Board wish to make decisions and provide for the children's best interests or make excuses for continuing discriminatory practices?

dan dempsey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CT said...

Good TFA article here:
http://jacobinmag.com/winter-2012/teach-for-america/

Melissa Westbrook said...

Brian, I think part of the issue is that people have this idea that they are "represented" in their area by a director.

True, their area's director has his/her community meetings in the region but I believe it was created that way in order to allow the directors to know one area very well and help the other directors. To believe 7 people could know almost 100 schools well is not realistic.

You could go to any director with an issue. I gave up talking to Harium when his demeanor at community meetings changed.

Also, just to let you know it was Mary Bass who pioneered community meetings in her region and other directors picked up on it. I don't think it was a regular thing before her efforts.

KG said...

I noticed after the election of the new school board members that a few bargaining units put letters to the school board to support Enfield. These are the same unions whom supported the the new school board members whom wanted the superintendent out.

Maybe they liked the status of the
old board.
One wonders.

Especially with the lack of help by the memberships.
Be careful whom you support.

someone said...

New op-ed piece by Ms. Varner

Don't let history repeat in Seattle Public Schools superintendent search

dan dempsey said...

A report on how rapidly Director Martin-Morris's Big SPS District Math Boat is being turned.

The most math Gap progress may be made at middle school over the last 5-years on State Testing.

Black / White achievement gaps are smaller by

6th Grade 4.50%
7th grade 4.00%
8th grade 6.60%

at this rate of change in 50 years the gap at grade 6 will be 1%, at grade 7 it will be 5.90% and the great news is at grade 8 the gap will be gone. It only required 33 years to eliminate the 8th grade gap.

====

I will look at Black White Math gap reductions at grade 3,4,5 next, looking over the last 5 years.

Kathy said...

Brian,

How would of the results have turned out if the Seattle Times and other news outlets updated candidate profiles to reflect the fact that Peaslee was supported by all Democratic Districts with the exception of the 46th? I'd also argue Buetow would have faired better if the Seattle Times and other news outlets printed the fact that she was endorsed in all Democratic Districts.

Also adding to variabilities..the Voters Guide was not updated to reflect challenger endorsements.

In my opinion, failure for the Voters Guide and Seattle Times to update endorsements does not allow for any valid interpretation of election results. I don't think voters were adequately informed.

dan dempsey said...

WOW!!! That Big Math Boat is still headed the wrong direction in grades 3,4,5.

The Black White achievement gaps in grades 3,4,5 in the District all increased over the last 5 years.

Gaps are bigger by

3rd Grade: +11.60%
4th Grade: +4.90%
5th Grade: +1.50%

====== Would a Director that based decisions on the intelligent application of relevant data ...... be still waiting for this boat to turn?

BIG NEWS for HM-M the boat is sailing in the Everyday math direction .... and it is the wrong direction.

So when can we expect the careful review of all options for closing achievement gaps?

dan dempsey said...

Kathy wrote:

I don't think voters were adequately informed.
So true.

Do the powers that be ... want the voters to be adequately informed?

Carol Simmons said...

Dear Eric B

As one of the 8 "concerned adults" who signed the letter requesting that the District withdraw from the TfA contract there was no mention of removing the current TfA recruits in mid-year. We documented that the legal requirements of the WAC, which required a careful review of all available options for closing the achievement gap, were not followed and that the District ignored these legal requirements in order to hire TfA recruits. Our letter to the Board has been answered by Director Martin-Morris. He states that "there is progress being made" and that "turning a ship of this size does take time." How many more students will drown while we turn the ship? There might have been some progress made if the three sets of Disproportionality Task Force Recommendations had been carefully reviewed as legally required by the WAC, as well as reviewing other options for closing the gap. The hiring of TfA recruits was never recommended by any of the Disproportionality Task Forces as an option for closing the achievement gap. Director Martin-Morris states there is progress being made. A careful review of the most recent District Data report will illustrate otherwise. The District needs to withdraw from the TfA contract immediately and follow the legal requirements of the WAC by reviewing all of the options for closing the achievement gap. The TfA contract is not one of them.

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

Here's something weird. I think the Alliance for Education is allowing comments on their blog.

dan dempsey said...

Correction on Grade 5 Math Black White Gap

Incorrectly reported as greater over last 5 years but actually less by 3.70%

Currently at 46.20% ... down from 49.90% 5 years ago.

Currently closing at 0.74% / year

In only 50 years the 5th grade Math White / Black gap will be down to 9.20% in Spring of 2061

Harium seems to favor following the Ed Reform Agenda rather than providing evidence based positive changes.

Eric B said...

Dan and Carol,

I'm glad you're not advocating for removal of the teachers from the classroom. Would an immediate termination of the TFA contract require that the teachers be removed? I don't know enough about the details of the contract to be informed on this, but I would be concerned about unintended consequences.

Josh Hayes said...

Kathy said:

"In my opinion, failure for the Voters Guide and Seattle Times to update endorsements does not allow for any valid interpretation of election results. I don't think voters were adequately informed."

I'd also note that a lot of Seattleites - not just the young hipster variety! - rely on The Stranger for recommendations on voting, and they totally dropped the ball on the HMM/Buetow race, as they subsequently admitted. I can't help but wonder if Harium's comparatively comfortable margin of victory was largely due to the mistaken Stranger endorsement (revoked on the day before the election; oops!).

dan dempsey said...

Eric B,

To terminate the contract for the 2012-2013 school year requires at least 120 days written notice prior to the end of the 2011-2012 school year.

TfA can complete this school year. I, as an experienced teacher, would not advocate for removing teachers during the year except in exceptional cases.

-- Dan

Eric B said...

Dan, Thank you. I take it all back. If they need 120 days notice, then the Board should either (a) get on the stick to cancel the contract or (b) make it clear that regularly certificated teachers should be given some priority over TFA teachers. That may cause contractual issues, so go back to (a).

Anonymous said...

New federal data bank tracking your kids:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/how_the_feds_are_tracking_your_kid_xC6wecT8ZidCAzfqegB6hL?CMP=OTC-rss&FEEDNAME=

-JC.

dan dempsey said...

Eric B,

There are some really deep problems that need to be examined in light of everything surrounding what produced the TfA actions.

There are a lot more "difficulties" than just the ones I put in the following letter sent to President DeBell ==>
http://www.school-truth.com/12-28-2011-Letter-DeBell.htm

The District’s claims of interest in closing the achievement gaps appear to be disingenuous.

I expect an end to deception. The intelligent application of relevant data should be used in a way to improve academic performance opportunities for every student. Please begin correcting so many harmful decisions made during the last four-years, by leaving TfA.


Speaking of deception and TfA check out the Sherry Carr "cherry picking" highlighted in yellow in my letter.

dan dempsey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mirmac1 said...

Interesting article in the WaPo:

African-american students disciplined 2-5 times as often as whites

dan dempsey said...

ACTION ALERT .... WAIVER POLICY

Action Report for introduction on 1-4-2012

Section X RESEARCH AND DATA SOURCES / BENCHMARKS
-----
As schools select materials through the waiver process, there needs to be consideration of several components. “Instructional materials must be effective in three major priority areas: content, presentation, and learning. The following sections describe essential features for each of these priority areas. These features generally apply to all formats of instructional materials, whether print or other media or multiple media formats,”

(Priorities for Evaluating Instructional
Materials: Research Update, Florida Department of Education, 2008.)

In addition, researcher Kati Haycock has stated. “Nothing should be left to chance in curriculum and instruction
(personal communication, November 2009), indicating the need for careful consideration of
selection criteria as schools make decisions regarding materials.

----
So what about he need for careful consideration of
selection criteria as schools make decisions regarding materials (??) shouldn't it be extended to District decisions?

So what about the District's selection of math materials in 2007 and 2009?

“Nothing should be left to chance in curriculum and instruction” said Kati Haycock.

So given the Everyday Math WASL and MSP data and the "Discovering Algebra" End of Course test data are lousy but not the result of chance ..... has the Central Administration has been purposely damaging the children?

..... I suspected as much but was unaware of the truth of my suspicion up to this point in time.

Thanks to section X ... now I know for sure.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, Dan. The comments on the Principal survey are worth a read. It's interesting that principals were split about 50-50 on the waiver process.

If the district adopted strong materials, would the waiver process even be necessary?

FP

Anonymous said...

Teach For America = TFA, not TfA

Teacher