Two items of interest from the Times.
One is an editorial pushing for the district to fulfill its Special Education obligations to students. One key paragraph:
The School Board must demand a more informed, inclusive tone around special education. Board discussions about special education services are frequently framed in terms of costs. But board members must take care not to make special education a scapegoat for broader budget woes.
Correct on all points but the district needs a clear assessment of the issue before them before they make any changes/corrections. What is working, what isn't and how do principals/teachers feel?
I introduced myself to the new executive director of special education, Zakiyyah McWilliams, at the Board retreat, and she could not have been warmer. I think an ability to make people feel welcome to come to her is a big step.
But if the State does not even get close to meeting McCleary AND now OSPI is threatening to bring the hammer down on the district if it doesn't get its Special Ed eggs in a row, something may have to give. If the district does not make this a priority, the state may do it for them and that may mean shifting money around in the budget. That outcome could affect ALL students.
The other item was an article about (belated) outreach by the Gates Foundation to teachers. I read it and had to smile.
Honestly, does Gates & Company really think teachers are that dumb? I'm sure the teachers went right for it.
"Look, Bill Gates gave a bunch of teachers a fancy trip to a luxury resort in Arizona."
"It's the first time in a long time that Gates has paid more than lip service attention to teachers; he must really care."
“We’re trying to start a movement,” Scott told the teachers in
Scottsdale. “A movement started by you. A movement you’re leading.”
Sure and I have a bridge up north to sell you.
One of the handlers, Irvin Scott, didn't talk about the past.
He didn’t talk much about any of the foundation’s initiatives. He
didn’t even mention the one that’s alienated teachers the most — the
test-score measures of teacher performance the foundation has pushed in
the second phase of its richly financed mission to overhaul America’s
What has the Foundation been doing and saying about teachers?
It pushed for policies that would make it easier to fire teachers, to
base pay and layoffs on performance rather than seniority and — most
controversially — to use student test scores to help judge teacher
Perhaps most galling to many teachers, the foundation spent $2 million
to promote the movie “Waiting for Superman,” a film in which Gates
himself made an appearance, and which placed the blame for the woes of
American public education squarely on teachers unions and, by extension,
Months after the Scottsdale conference, Allan Golston, president of
the foundation’s U.S. programs, acknowledged the foundation had, early
in its education work, erred by dreaming up ideas with so-called
education reformers and not including teachers in those discussions.
The conference, he said, was a manifestation of that lesson, and the beginning of much more to come.
So why the full-court press now?
And just the day before, Gates, in an opinion piece in The New York
Times, sided with New York teachers in a bitter battle over whether that
city’s school district should publicly share teachers’ ratings based on
their students’ test performance.
Gates followed that piece with a second one in The Washington Post
last month in which he said some of the new ways that states and
districts are measuring teacher performance make no sense — a view also
held by many teachers.
Critics look skeptically even at Gates’ newspaper pieces, calling them disingenuous.
The opinion articles “are a garden hose trying to put out a fire he
helped start,” said Jack Jennings, who has been involved in education
policy for more than four decades in Congress and with the nonprofit
Center on Education Policy, which he founded.
“It’s a belated acknowledgment that they were going down the wrong path.”
Ah, the famous Gates pride. You'll never hear the Gates Foundation publicly say they made a mistake and you certainly won't hear it from Gates himself. Kinda like the Pope in that way.
But the foundation has not moved nearly enough for critics such as
Jennings and Anthony Cody, a former California teacher and blogger for
Education Week, a newsweekly.
Cody sees Gates’ softer stances toward teachers as a P.R. effort in
response to “a tremendous backlash to his unfortunate ideas.” He’ll
believe the foundation is changing, he said, when Gates apologizes for
setting in motion some of the very policies the foundation is now
Gates “is posing as the good cop here, but he’s responsible for the bad cops,” he said.
He’ll believe the foundation is listening to teachers when there’s
evidence it is working with a wide range of teachers, not just those
involved in Gates-funded projects.
Cody doesn’t want to accuse such teachers of cowing to the
foundation, but talking to them, he said, “is not the same as going and
really listening to unfiltered teacher viewpoints.”
Mr. Irwin had this to say:
Though widely viewed as a critic of teachers and their unions, the
world’s largest foundation has begun reaching out to them in new ways,
sending the message it wants to be their friend — and their champion.
He knows some believe the foundation is out to co-opt teachers, and
he acknowledges that part of the new initiative is aimed at supporting
teachers who embrace the foundation’s ideas.
“We’re definitely trying to empower teachers who we feel are going in the right direction,” he said.
But he also says the foundation is sincere in its desire to work with teachers.
OH, why didn't you just say so in the first place?
Again, that pesky issue of the Gates Foundation having an allergy to being truthful and candid. Teachers and communities and parents are NOT buying into what you are feeding them, no matter how many astro-turf, faux groups you create.
In Scottsdale, he made teachers promise to be candid.
“Honest feedback,” he asked them to chant.
“Honest feedback,” they echoed. “Honest feedback.”
He had teachers chanting? Personally, I would have found that weird coming from someone who I didn't know or consider a friend to my profession.
Beware of Trojans bearing gifts.