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.
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).