Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Good Things at the Board Meeting

The kids from Maple Elementary came and did a wonderful dragon dance to welcome in the new year.  Great fun.

Also, 38 more teachers were recognized for being board-certified.  According to the Board, our district is 5th in the nation for the number of board-certified teachers.  Good for all those teachers.  (I will try to give a breakdown of where all these newly-certified teachers come from but unfortunately, Cathy Thompson only said their name and not their school.)

Lots of good input from mostly elementary science teachers on the importance of equity in science teaching for ALL children.  They also worry over the fact that most of their funding comes from grants (not a stable source) and their wish that their subject (which is now tested) would more of a part of the district's budget.

Let's see, Dr. Enfield away on personal business.

There was some oddity about Betty Patu challenging a couple of items on the Consent agenda.  I don't quite know what that was about.

Oh right, they voted in the MOU for Creative Approach Schools.  The crucial vote came from Marty McLaren whose explanation of why she was rejecting Sharon Peaslee's amendment to allow the Board its oversight duty rang a little hollow.

 She said that it was sort of a pilot program (it isn't).

She said they can revisit it when the next collective bargaining agreement comes in 2013 (that might happen).

She said she felt like teachers and principals had really collaborated on this issue (but strangely not one person, except me, spoke up for parents).    It really seemed like she was quite concerned about how teachers felt on this one.

Phil Brockman told the Board that there were 15 schools interested and their timeline shows approval by September with some implementation by November so perhaps look for that at your school.

Now, of course, the MOU says nothing about how parents will be involved or notified.  Given that neither the district nor the SEA thought it important to even convey to parents that this was a possibility while they were planning it- that the entire nature of how your school runs might change - I'm thinking good luck with that involvement.

You, as parents, have NO vote.  Oh sure, you can go to some design meeting but sorry, you don't have a vote.  It's the teachers and the district.  They and they alone will decide the future course of your school.  And don't go bothering the Board if you are not happy with the MOU or what ends up at your school - they're out of the loop now.

And if somebody, like say the Gates Foundation, waves a wad of cash under your teachers noses (and promises them the moon), well, you might see quite a different school.

There is no provision in the MOU about sectarian or religious groups being involved (even the charter bill says that's a no-no in a couple of places) so who knows? 

I'm sure they will make certain to tell parents on school tours in February that change is a distinct possibility in any school they tour and it  may radically change by November.  Maybe the Seattle Council PTSA might let parents know.

Maybe not. 

Oh and when the Board had some questions about educational legislative matters, they did turn to staff who somehow didn't recall much.  I followed-up to help the Board out.  Here's what I wrote:

As usual, I was dying to help out when you had questions about education legislation.  So I was relieved when Holly Ferguson came to the microphone to speak.  Unfortunately, she either didn't know certain things or forgot to mention them.   But I'll fill in.

One, there WAS a lab school bill (2606) sponsored by Reps Sullivan, Maxwell and Tharinger that would have established lab schools partnerships that would bring together Washington's higher ed institutions and low-achieving public schools.  There would have been 6 which is the exact same number that under the charter school bill would get priority for educationally disadvantaged students.  So it's would have been pretty even with either charters or this bill.

Imagine that - schools working in partnership with higher ed institutions.  Sounds great but the bill died. 

Two, the State, last year passed two innovation schools bills and OSPI is administering them this year.  Holly didn't mention this either even though Thorton Creek is one of them.   And, districts can create innovation zones just like Mr. Brockman described.  The program has a lot of flexibility as well. 

Interesting how I remembered these things as Ms. Ferguson spoke but she didn't and neither did Mr. Brockman.  I guess they just forgot.

I have to say it will be quite the interesting dilemma (or tug-of-war) over schools if the charter school bill passes AND you have the Creative Approach Schools.  But, of course, you really don't have control over either item (unless some of you, like Steve Sundquist, were not entirely honest about charter schools - he's now for them but in the SB campaign was against them). 

Interesting times.

41 comments:

Wondering said...

I'm not seeing any provisions that would prevent a non-profit from being an Oversight Committee. How about members from the civic elite? Am I missing something?

Wondering said...

There are rumors that Pettigrew might try and pass some type of pilot charter. I'm wondering if there is any connection.

I'm disappointed.

Kathy said...

Lincoln Center in Tacoma is modeled after a charter school. They have extended day, Saturday school etc., but the school board retained control.

This is crazy.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wondering, I'm not understanding your question. As I read the MOU and accompanying documents only SEA and staff can be on the Oversight Committee.

I did hear the same thing about Pettigrew but boy, you'd have to really revamp the bill for that.

But as Betty said, all these programs will happen at school with no Board oversight but boy, if things go wrong, the Board will take the blame (maybe at the next election).

TraceyS said...

Were the names of the approximately fifteen schools mentioned at all?

Anonymous said...

Funny that the board recognized the newly Nationally Board Certified Teachers. As a teacher who is working on the boards this year I can tell you that the district offers zero support. A group of us tried to get the district to coordinate a support group and we would pay (a model that SEA supports and helps work in many other districts who don't offer financial support), but this district said no to even that. It makes no sense.

It's unfortunate because Seattle is having fewer candidates than ever before. Many other districts are really helping their teachers.

Saddened by lack of support,
Teacher

Sharon Peaslee said...

My takeaway-- We could have delayed for 60-90 days and gotten it right. We didn't. People who view the School Board or SEA as impediments to quality education and innovation shouldn't be leading those organizations.

Jan said...

Sharon: it might be a little unseemly (but plenty of unseemly stuff has happened with this board in past years, so what the heck!) -- but I am wondering the following: IF there are things that could/should have been done to make the MOU a much better piece of legislation, could you or another concerned board member draft up a series of amendments and see if you can get the Board to tweak this before the schools actually start implementing it? Even if it doesn't pass -- as long as it is legitimately good policy, and SHOULD pass -- we definitely found out in the past election that when directors try to weasel their way around the stuff they ignored or voted badly on -- having a record makes it much easier for voters making choices to separate truth from fiction.

KG said...

I hope that the Board did not take DeBell's idea of 2-minutes per public speaker and vote it in.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Tracey S, no, they were not. I could ask Phil Brockman but I don't think he would tell me.

Jan, Sharon DID try to introduce an amendment to include the Board. It obviously got shot down. Nope, no use offering amendments because the Board members who voted for it are looking at this as some sort of pilot program and they'll tweak it later.

I did think of one other issue; it's a great way to get rid of Spectrum at a school. If the majority of teachers at your school don't like it, well, they can offer a different academic plan that doesn't include it. I could believe that 80% of teachers at a school would sign on to that. I'll have to let my colleagues on the AL Taskforce know about this new wrinkle.

I know of no other elected officials that would EVER give away power. I'm sure Tim Burgess, who for some reason came to meeting and sat in the back mostly looking at his computer, laughed to himself after this got passed. You would NEVER see the City Council do this.

As for the 2-minute, they introduced it. I'm quite sure it will pass next Board meeting.

Jack Whelan said...

Bottom line is that Sharon's amendment was uncontroversial and common sensical, and the fix was easy. As Kay herself admitted the board made a mistake, but for reasons that made no apparent sense she did not think it important to fix it. She said she would have supported more aggressive wording, and Sharon said that she would have accepted that--so why didn't Kay approach Sharon about that before the meeting rather than bringing it up when it was too late to make the change? I guess giving away the board's oversight on opening schools just important enough to make the effort. This was just another example of the old board's rubber-stamping m.o. They're going to trust every body to do the right thing. Fine, but funny thing, this district has a pretty bad track record on that.

The timing issue, IMO, has more to do with Knapp's SEA campaign than it does with any practical time line for getting a few schools going for next year. This is a fundamentally good idea that is creating the potential to turn into a real mess with all kinds of potential abuses because the board has once again decided that its primary responsibility is to trust the "professionals".

Charlie Mas said...

My view on the MOU for Creative Approach Schools is more pragmatic. I don't think it means much, and I think it can be fixed before there is any harm done.

First, I believe that the only schools that are going to apply to be Creative Approach Schools - at least for a good long while - will be the alternative schools and the service schools. They will only be looking to use this instrument to codify what they are already doing. There's your fifteen schools: Thornton Creek, Pinehurst, Salmon Bay, TOPS, Queen Anne Elementary, The Center School, NOVA, ORCA, Pathfinder, Cleveland STEM, South Shore, South Lake, Middle College, S.B.O.C., and Interagency. That's fifteen. In other words, this "change" will represent no change at all. I don't see any reason for people to worry that their neighborhood school will suddenly adopt some wacky curriculum or practices overnight.

Second, the schools' authority to waive District policy is also no change. There's no one enforcing District policy now, so the schools are already ignoring the policies. All this does is, once again, codify the current practice. Honestly, this is a distinction without a difference. Let's say that there's a policy that prohibits X, but School 1 does X (and does it all the time as a standard operating procedure). As a Creative Approach School they will disclose that they are doing X and they will be allowed to do it. If they were not a creative approach school they would simply go ahead and do X without disclosing it and they will be allowed to do it. Either way they are doing X and either way they are allowed to do it without any consequences. Honestly, since when has the Board or anyone else in Seattle Public Schools cared if the schools followed the policies?

Finally, yes, there are flaws in the MOU. Yes, the Board was completely left out of it. Yes, the community was completely left out of it. That's because it was a negotiation between the SEA and the central administration and neither of them ever think of the Board or the community as stakeholders. But now those flaws have been revealed. Negotiations on the new labor agreement will be started very soon (if they haven't started already). The MOU will be revised within two years and the revised version will include some Board and community element. I don't think that we're going to see any school make any radical change under the current MOU. If any radical change is coming - and it will be rare - it will come under the revised MOU.

By the way, it is a VERY bad idea for the Board to allows schools to autonomously waive ANY district policy. They could start by waiving the assignment policy. Then they could waive the policy that requires them to offer services to students with special needs. Then they could waive the discipline policy. Gosh, then they could become a KIPP school.

Melissa Westbrook said...

What I think would be funny (as a bystander) is if the TEACHERS at a school wanted a CA that parents didn't like.

Say, charter legislation has passed and now a charter group comes to the parents' rescue.

"You don't like what those teachers at your school have foisted on you? Here's our swell plan. Just sign the petition."

Parents, not happy with the teacher takeover, turn to their rescuer and sign.

You'd have a death match for the soul of your school between the CA people and the charter people.

Of course, you have to keep in mind that parents have as much power over what a charter proposal brings in as you do the CA proposal.

None.

Olga Addae tried to tell me last night that no, parents and community have to be part of it. I've read the documents. They do say "the proposal has to be initiated as a grass-roots effort with participation of staff, family and community." It says "broad participation of family and community members in developing the design".

But guess what? It also says "democratic process is used by STAFF in decision-making."

There is nothing, in any document, that guarantees parents any kind of decision-making in this process. You get to sit at the table, maybe give some input.

But the final decisions are made by administration and teachers.

Charlie Mas said...

The Creative Approach School thing is kind of silly anyway. What does anyone think any school will actually do with this? Do you think that any school is going to make some kind of radical change? Like what?

This is like the "promise" of charter schools. Oh, if only schools were unbound by the district regulations and labor contracts that prevent them from doing what they know they need to do to close the academic achievement gap. It sounds so liberating, but most charter schools are really no different from traditional schools.

How likely is it that we will actually see many - if any - schools use this process to really re-design themselves to address the academic achievement gap? Really?

It is the rare school that actually does what they need to do. It is the rare school that will create the small classes needed to identify and address the various barriers for each individual student. It is the rare school that will work to fill the opportunity gap with before-school and after-school activities that enrich and support. It is the rare school that will also allow the really large class sizes needed to make the small classes affordable. One class of 12 and one class of 38 in the same school. 90 minutes each of reading, writing, math and science, with the history, music, art, and PE pushed into the after-school afternoon where they have to share that time with field trips and homework support.

Let's remember that it will take a vote of 80% of the school staff to make the change. That's a VERY high bar. Director Carr said that when Bagley decided to add a Montessori program they had to work like crazy just to get 50% plus 1 approval from the staff.

This Creative Approach School thing is not much different from charter schools. It's a fig leaf. It's a distraction. It creates the illusion of change without creating any real change.

David said...

I didn't know what "Creative Approach Schools" are, and I thought I followed this blog closely, so I looked for some more information. A good summary (on this blog a while back) is here:

Guest Column: Creative Approach Schools

In brief, it looks like it sets up a system to support existing and create new alternative schools and allows alternative schools a lot of flexibility as long as they yield measurable gains in student scores. It's an experiment to find new alternative programs that are popular with parents and work well for students, then create more of them.

The controversy over them appears to be about two things: First, there are serious questions of accountability, whether poor performing schools actually will be changed or shut down, which has also been a huge problem for charter schools. Second, this "memorandum of understanding" on "creative approach schools" that sets this all up was done by interest groups in the district behind the scenes, which is typical but annoying, and involved little opportunity for parents to look at the MOU and ask for changes.

Did I get that all about right?

Po3 said...

One could also argue if 80% of your teachers hate Everyday Math, CMP, Discovery Math or Writers Workshop they could use this policy to dump these materials! And that could be a game changer for students across the district.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, right as usual. I forgot - real change is hard.

David, about right but you left out that the door to outside groups coming into schools is now wide open.

Po3 - glass half full and you're right and good for you.

anonymous said...

PO3 that's exactly what I was thinking.

Could a school use the MOU to, say, become a traditional math school? Or to be able to escape the mandate to use NSF science kits or Writers Workshop, etc.?

Could a High School use the MOU to start their day at 9A instead of 750A? Could they use the MOU to offer home made vegetarian lunches (like NOVA used to) instead of the factory lunches they have to use now?

Could a school use the MOU to have more say in the hiring of their principal (remember only alts are granted this right now)?

Could a South end school use the MOU to offer a year round school, or have extended day?

I don't know that this MOU is only for alternative schools.

kidsfirst

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kidsfirst, right on all points but the school has to have benchmarks on how it closes the achievement gap. You can't change just to change; there has to be a plan of how it all works.

That said, it's quite the new world.

I personally would LOVE to hear about a community where parents and teachers worked together to create something better (that closes the achievement gap). It may happen but I think the possibilities for problems are huge.

Anonymous said...

Could a South end school use the MOU to offer a year round school, or have extended day?

I guess that could happen...but that's the problem with neighborhood schools. Southend schools are not 100% FRL or kids at risk. The southend, especially areas around RBHS and many of the elementaries—and certainly Aki Kurose as the only middle school, draw from families in every socio-economic category. There ARE kids in those million-dollar homes along the lake and on Island Drive whose families do not want or need year-round school, nor extended hours. Ditto for all the solidly middle-class families.

Restructuring a neighborhood school to act like a chartee to serve at-risk kids will only send more families who just want and need a traditional, solid curriculum to private schools.

Solvay

Anonymous said...

I guess I still don't get this whole creative school MOU thing. I can understand why this might be good thing in allowing individual school more autonomy on how to deliver instruction to meet the needs of its student population. I can also see the concern how this autonomy may get abused if individual schools are allowed to set up relationship with private groups to run/fund a school, or for a small group to speak and make decisions without the larger community/parental input or buy in.

Just like the charter bill, there is the appearance of good intention, but not a lot of safeguards to trigger oversight. There's a lot of ambiguity and vagueness in the ability of this MOU to allow schools to deviate from SPS policies and board oversight.

Why do we go from extreme to extreme? We have in some ways been down this path with school based decision making and under MGJ, back to centralized decision making. What is wrong with working a C & I policy to come up with proper instructional guideline allowing for more liberal waiver process (but has accountability attached)? Why not fixed the flaws within the system? Instead we create a separate system for a set of schools to operate under, yet leaving a majority of schools chaffing under policies that don't work or not enforced. How is this a good thing?

What's the advantage here? Some schools may thrive and be better performers under creative school MOU? IF so, why not open that up to all schools? Put in accountabillity and guidelines so they are clear and leave less room for abuse potential. Why not take the time and do it right?

PS mom

Charlie Mas said...

PS mom FTW

Anonymous said...

I should add this whole Creative Schools MOU feels a little bit like our WA state legislature unable/unwilling to come up with ways to fund Basic Education, so they are doing the very next best thing to appear like they are doing something about education: Charters and Teacher Evaluation Bills.

The district can't do the hard work of fixing its flaws and managing this behemoth, so instead works out a deal to affect a small group of schools and kids so it looks like they are trying to do something (but not really because they hand off that resonsibility to individual school to fix itself). Meanwhile, the real problems of this district remain just like our state basic ed funding.

PS mom

Disgusted said...

"I know of no other elected officials that would EVER give away power. I'm sure Tim Burgess, who for some reason came to meeting and sat in the back mostly looking at his computer"

Absolutely.

For me, the biggest problem is School Board giving up oversight. DeBell has been systematically willing to give up school board control. He sat - alone- writing 1620, signed onto this MOU giving up oversight etc. DeBell felt it necessary to bad mouth his colleagues in the media to pass 1620 etc. What is going on? Why was Burgess in the audience? I suspect there is a lot more going on.

Kathy said...

David,

There are advantages to Creative Approach Schools. However, Michelle's article does not advocate giving up School Board control.

I don't think this proposal will stop charter advocates. There is just to much $$ behind the charter movement.

mirmac1 said...

I'll bet Burgess was Bridge's and Hanauer's proxy.

Yeah, him for mayor and our schools like Bloomberg's NY debacle.

Kathy said...

"I can also see the concern how this autonomy may get abused if individual schools are allowed to set up relationship with private groups to run/fund a school, or for a small group to speak and make decisions without the larger community/parental input or buy in."

PS Mom,

I share your concerns.

Anonymous said...

DeBell apparently gave a shout out to Burgess during last night's meetingand said he'd been at one of Burgess's meetings. Tit for tat n all that.

Burgess wants to be mayor. Burgess herded the Families and Ed Levy not just to better the city but seemingly because he saw it was a gleaming gold nugget for future campaigning. The man wanted nothing to do with anyone who wasn't his supporter or from the downtown crowd getting involved in that levy. I saw and heard about his attitude and he lost me permanently as a potential supporter because of it.

My guess is Debell is done with school board the next go round. But it is clear he cares about schools. The logical next step is BFF to Burgess in a mayoral run and getting the whole establishment crowd - The Alliance of course - behind that candidate.

All conjecture, but makes sense especially watching Debell's turn for the worse IMHO as the new board has started.

There will be other mayoral candidates. I will be looking for someone strong on education but with a more inclusive attitude than Burgess' annoying patrician style and general dissing of the neighborhood activists. Hope Debell finds that spine we sometimes see and finds a better candidate too.

Southie

Charlie Mas said...

We are struggling to find a balance between allowing professionals the freedom to be creative and innovative on one hand with the need for accountability on the other hand. The one thing we are not finding is the one thing we need: balance.

Instead, we get extremes. We get either the Wild, Wild West of charter schools, Creative Approach Schools, principals as CEOs, and site-based decision-making or we get the lockdown standardization of over-regulation, centralized decision-making, fidelity of implementation, staffing standards, and mandated school improvement plans.

What we don't get is appropriate regulation that allows creativity and customization, but demands results and protects against abuses.

There is nothing that a charter school can do for students that a public school cannot do. The only real difference between a charter school and a public school is that the charter school is not bound by district-level bureaucratic regulation. If charter schools are so freaking wonderful, then the real impediment to having wonderful schools must be the district-level regulations. Isn't it obvious then that the solution we should pursue is the elimination of district-level bureaucratic regulation that impedes student progress?

I can't be the only person who sees this.

The Creative Approach Schools are almost charter schools under a different name. Whereas charter schools differ from public schools only in their governance and ownership, Creative Approach Schools retain the same ownership as public schools, while having governance more like charter schools.

Everyone - so far as I know - is all in favor of removing any regulation that impedes student progress. But impeding student progress was not the intended purpose of any of those regulations. They all had some legitimate purpose at some time. So the question comes back to the real question, the question that we keep coming back to no matter what path we take:

How can we balance our desire for accountability with our need to allow creativity?

And the answer is the same answer we also keep coming back to:

With smart, effective regulation the prevents harm while allowing innovation.

So why is this proving so elusive?

I will offer four explanations in my next comment.

Charlie Mas said...

We all want smart, effective regulation the prevents harm while allowing innovation, so why is this proving so elusive?

Here are four reasons:

1) The board wouldn't know good regulation if they tripped over it. The board is mired in a policy revision project that reveals exactly this incompetency. Just look at the most recent policy they devised, the Instruction Material Waiver Policy. They stepped WAY over the line by writing a policy that is full of process. All the policy should have said was “The superintendent shall write and adopt a procedure for schools to follow when they wish to replace the board-adopted basic instructional materials with alternative materials.” That’s it. That’s a policy. That’s what it looks like when the board stays on the governance side of the line. If they wanted to, they could have required that the process be transparent, equitable, and based on clear, objective criteria, but that would sort of imply that the superintendent couldn't be trusted to write it that way if the board didn’t require it. In truth, this shouldn’t even be a policy by itself, but just one sentence in the Instructional Materials Adoption policy. Instead, we get a “policy” that is full of procedure and will become obsolete as soon as the new superintendent renames the job titles.

2) The central administration staff are bureaucrats and bureaucrats are almost culturally incapable of writing good regulation. Good regulation requires nuance, understanding of complex systems, and, most of all, judgment. Bureaucrats distrust all of those as traps to create blame for them. Blame is the inevitable consequence of exercising judgment, and bureaucrats seek to avoid blame like vampires seek to avoid sunlight. They are not evaluated by their ability to create positives but by their ability to stay free of negatives. They don’t want nuance; they want hard limits and objective counts.

3) The SEA doesn't trust the administration (for excellent reason) and therefore doesn't want to allow them the freedom to exercise their judgment. So the SEA also wants hard limits and objective assessments to protect themselves from subjective decisions by petty tyrants. Again, this is no way to write good regulation.

4) The public is also to blame. No one gets off the hook here. The public demands accountability in the form of hard limits and objective measures. The public demands school reports with precise mathematical measures of amorphous ideas. The public are the ones who assign blame to the bureaucrats who exercise judgment.

There is a pervasive belief that we cannot legislate good judgment any more than we can legislate good taste. I don’t think that’s true. I think that we can allow freedoms while providing protections. I think we can demand results without setting absurd benchmarks. The trick is to focus on the outcomes instead of the means.

Melissa Westbrook said...

PS, that's crazy talk (but in a good way).

Jack Whelan said...

My perhaps somewhat naive perspective on this contrasts with Charlie's. I see the Creative Approach schools as serving first the existing alternative schools to help them to become alternative schools again. They have lost their autonomy and their ability to be truly alternative in the last decade's move toward greater centralization. So that alone is a good reason to support CAs.

I agree that all schools should be creative and that the waiver policy should be liberalized, but in my mind the CA schools should be doing something thematically very different from the neighborhood schools--perhaps even experimental--that's what innovative means to me, anyway. They should be given the latitude to explore new ground, and to the degree that they succeed, their practices should be emulated or adapted by other schools.

This was the original idea behind Charter Schools when Albert Shanker thought them up--they would still be part of the larger interdependent community of schools, but they would be given a latitude to do things differently. Charter Schools instead evolved into publicly subsidized private school run by chains and for profit companies in isolation from the larger public school system. Shanker and all the early proponents of charters backed away from them when this original idea became corrupted.

My idea of a CA school is modeled by Deborah Meier's East Central Park School in NYC and Mission Hill School in Boston. They exemplify interdependent autonomy.

So maybe Charlie's right, nobody will do anything with this, but I'd be disappointed if that were true, and If I were on the board, I'd be looking for ways to identify Deborah Meier types who would do for some of the failing schools what she did in New York and Boston. Without the CA framework in place, you couldn't even begin to do that.

It might be true, as Charlie says, that this just ratifies the board's traditional m.o., which is to refuse to do its job in performing its oversight responsibilities, but isn't that precisely what we want to change, and so how can we not be disturbed by this new board's continuing along that failed path? So for me this vote last night was a big deal, because it's sending a message that there really is not the collective will in the new board to change is dysfunctional m.o. There's just Sharon and Betty. Should we just shrug our shoulders and say, "Oh well, back to the same old, same old?" I hope not.

suep. said...

Southie -- Interesting thoughts. Keep an eye on Peter Steinbrueck, too. Could be a Burgess-Steinbrueck mayoral match-up. A couple of years ago, PS was contemplating mayoral control of the school district (proven to be a very bad idea in other cities, like NYC, for ex).

Anonymous said...

Could a South end school use the MOU to offer a year round school, or have extended day?

I guess that could happen...but that's the problem with neighborhood schools. Southend schools are not 100% FRL or kids at risk. The southend, especially areas around RBHS and many of the elementaries—and certainly Aki Kurose as the only middle school, draw from families in every socio-economic category. There ARE kids in those million-dollar homes along the lake and on Island Drive whose families do not want or need year-round school, nor extended hours. Ditto for all the solidly middle-class families.

Restructuring a neighborhood school to act like a chartee to serve at-risk kids will only send more families who just want and need a traditional, solid curriculum to private schools.

Solvay

Charlie Mas said...

Solvay is right. If a school focuses too intensely on the needs of struggling students, then families of high performing students may get the message that there is nothing for them and their children at the school. Schools need to provide balance. They need to give with the left as they take with the right.

So, in the example that I often put forward, if there is a classroom of struggling students which has only 12 kids in it to allow for more personal attention, that means that there would have to be a class of 38 students in another room.

There has to be something pretty good happening in that class with 38 students in it for families to accept that. And it can't be something that only appears on the school web site; it has to actually happen in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

The SPS TV now has the 2/15 school board meeting posted, but it seems to have cut out the public testimony and starts mid sentence with HMM. Odd.

I was interested in hearing the public testimony on the elementary science, but it's not there...

Odd.

-parent

mirmac1 said...

BR tweets:

@brianmrosenthal
Tim Burgess says he came to School Board mtg last night to see vote on Creative Approach Schools, "a topic of great importance to the City"

Whad I tell ya? He was supposed to be the enforcer, representing the Masters of Alliance. Wonder if he'll run from that Arena announcement to the C&I Comm. Mtg of the Whole to make sure TFA remains because "it is of great importance to the City" and his financial backers!

Anonymous said...

Yup - Burgess lining up his mayoral deal. And there to keep the board in line. And lookie how those votes came out just right, 5-2.

Southie

Disgusted said...

"brianmrosenthal
Tim Burgess says he came to School Board mtg last night to see vote on Creative Approach Schools, "a topic of great importance to the City"

I guess Burgess had to show up to intimidate board members. Just a reiminder, you know. I watched the meeting. Clearly, Smith-Blum, McLaren and Carr were uncomfortable with this MOU. But, they caved. Martin-Morris did his usual trust gig.

Let's watch the shenanigans now as these Creative Schools are set-up. This is just the tip of the ice berg


Yes, where was board testimony? It wasn't filmed.

Kudos to Peaslee and Patu for having a back bone. This action should have been put off.

dan dempsey said...

Holy Cow!!! What happened to the testimony?

The SPS Board video seems to have just started with Harium .... No introduction and No Public Testimony.

Here is part 1 for 2/15/2012

Anonymous said...

One thing I don't see discussed is that the budget of the school remains firm and any reconfiguring must fit the budget. Transportation issues will affect any reorganization of the schedule: time and teaching year.

That seems limiting to me.

n...