Sunday, June 08, 2014

Seattle Schools Math Adoption Update

Here's the latest that I have gleaned from various sources:

- Michael Tolley did indeed, in front of Director McLaren, say that "in effect there is a dual adoption."  This is stunning. 

I believe now that if this push to have schools - in effect vote on which math curriculum they want - blows up in staff's collective faces, they will then say, "Oh, we interpreted the Board vote as dual because we have a math waivers policy."  That may have been why the Superintendent repeatedly told me yesterday that the math waivers policy was important in this discussion.

I'm not sure that CYA will work but good luck.  At the worst, someone may be out of a job and at the least, a very bitter wind will continue to blow through this district.

 - I have heard a rumor that PASS (the principals association) may ask for an extension on math waivers.  This would certainly be the fair and decent thing for principals who truly care about real community input to do.

- What I am hearing about more and more is the real fear that teachers and principals have of Common Core.  I'm not sure if it's about a "better" curriculum but one that will get them to help students to be able to pass the CC assessment.  (Of course, the test results also have real impacts on their job evaluations.)

- On that point, Math in Focus can sell its newest version of their book that is even MORE aligned with Common Core to the district and it will likely be the same price as their older version (which is what I believe the MAC saw). 

- I wrote to the entire Seattle legislative delegation about this situation.  There are at least two legislators - Senator Jamie Pedersen and Rep. Reuven Carlyle - who currently have students in Seattle schools.  I urged them to publicly support the Board in their decision.  Not because it was necessarily the "right" decision but it was one the Board made after looking at all the evidence and then voting.

Once you start going down the road of staff ignoring elected officials and their votes, any elected body can be challenged.

- I am reminded that Director Carr, who voted against Math in Focus, said that the district had followed a "legal and robust process."  I would venture to say that she would likely say the Board did the same.  And that I would hope she would back their legal responsibilities, as a Board, and not allow any vote to be overridden by staff actions.

133 comments:

Anonymous said...

Regarding the dual adoption, principals will be under ENORMOUS pressure to fall into line with what central staff wants. A lot of school communities are not prepared to advocate for Math in Focus under this pressure, even though it is the chosen curriculum. Principals may feel responsible to push for a waiver in their school communities, if they feel that enVision will align them more with other schools, the math philosophy of their Ed directors, and the people in T&L.

SE Parent

Anonymous said...

Not a good outcome. Many of us voted for these directors because we felt they understood the math problems far more than the internal staff at SPS.

Now the school communities will fall in line and it could become like the Everyday Math adoption, where a poor curriculum became dominant and the Singapore supplements were left behind.

I hope the board stands up for its vote.

S parent

Anonymous said...

What a joke having a math adoption committee and this facade of community engagement.
The T&L staff were already determined to adopt envision, so they may as well have skipped the charade and just made a announcement from the department that the new curriculum is envision.
We could have had dual adoption (there was likely enough board members supporting this) if the district allowed this amendment to be presented but they did not. I guess the same sort of manipulation would have gone on if a dual adoption amendment had passed.
When will they get that common core is just what the kids are expected to have learnt and become proficient at, at any given grade. Its not the bible. Any half-decent math curriculum should be sufficient to enable kids to meet the standards.

Geez

Anonymous said...

Any idea of what sort of pressure tactics principals are facing to go for the waiver? Are they being threatened with loss of funding in other areas? Jobs on the line? Other? I wonder if there are any interesting emails out there from district staff to principals, and if any got forwarded to BLT members...

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

But Geez, teach to the test and all. C'mon.

Ann D

Anonymous said...

Wow this district is super-effective - its solved the student mobility problem overnight. Kudos to them.

Wait,what? They haven't?!

I just assumed they must have, because a few days ago - mobility- was the big issue counting against dual adoption.

what a joke


Robert Cruickshank said...

The Board's authority is being challenged. They need to push back, and hard.

1. Call Michael Tolley before them and ask him to confirm that the Board chose MIF. Ask him to confirm that the Board did not do a dual adoption. Ask him to confirm that Board is the final decider on this. Ask him if he has been working to undermine the Board's decision. Ask him if he likes his job.

2. Call Supt. Banda before them and ask him the same questions as in #1.

3. Join their colleagues in Portland and around the country in calling for reforms to Common Core, including delinking it from tests.

The Board cannot back down now. If so they will lose control of the district.

Anonymous said...

I have written to Randy Dorn, WA State Superintendent of Public Instruction, informing him that train is running off the rails here in Seattle when it comes to adopting the Board approved MIF curriculum. Let's see how much he likes hearing that WA State's largest school district has no regard for process, the rules of law, school board authority, or simply what is best for the children and families it claims to serve. If you feel compelled, please share your concerns as well. Here's Mr. Dorn's email:

Randy.Dorn@k12.wa.us

I figure it can't hurt to seek help from outside the circus of clowns parading inside JSCEE.

-- Loosing Faith in Democracy

Anonymous said...

This is sedition. This is as bad as embezzling.

But please don't lose the forest for the trees. I believe there is validity in both math textbooks. Having looked at both of them, it's obvious that math in focus serves more children far better. Test scores also support the success of Singapore.

Having said that though, there are schools in our district using enVision and very happy with it, notably Thurgood Marshall. Those with such direct experience would likely go for a waiver, understandably. But schools using EDM going for enVision, decided by the principal over the weekend rubber stamped by a BLT? Because the principals teachers are too scared to stand up to him/her? Because the principal is too scared of retribution from the ex director and Heath and Tolley?

Yuck.

It's MIF, not dual adoption. The Board should make clear that insubordination is a fireable offense. The waivers should not be doled out like candy. They weren't before, they shouldn't be now.

This is about math, not CCSS. As a principal of my children's once said, "teach to the test? Teach the kids, and, the tests will take care of themselves".


-MATH COUNTS

Anonymous said...

The dual adoption amendment was *unanimously* voted down by the Board on Wednesday.

For Tolley, or anyone else, to take this stand is outright insubordination.

DD

Anonymous said...

Either this is a face saving salvo from the staff or there is something very strange. Was there a promise of a contract with Pearson? Is there an entanglement out there that we do not know of?

I know Banda does not like conspiracy theories but this is not a dual adoption and it is not passing the smell test.

S parent

Concerned said...

It took YEARS for our school to obtain a waiver from EDM. This is absolutely irresponsible and outrageous!

Write the board. The Superintendent and staff are acting in irresponsible manner. Perhaps thay have gone mad.

Concerned said...

Geez,

The district did not want a dual adoption and they provided many reasons. Director Peters and Director McLaren pulled the amendment. In essence, the district is doing exactly what they told the board would not be acceptable practice.

I hope heads roll over this one. The community does not deserve this BS.

The board does NOT have to fund discovery math. They still have recourse.

Samantha said...

It is important to note that Pearson offers a host of products, including linking teacher test scores to students.

I hope there are major FOIA requests going on.

Mark Ahlness said...

I hope this serves as a wake up call to admins - and to members of the public - that a top down decision on what ALL schools must do and how they must do it runs absolutely counter to the positive culture of a healthy school.

The SPS Mother Ship would like all her schools to be identical. It's so much easier to keep track of them that way.

Does every school want to be exactly like every other school in the district? Absolutely not!

If you're at a school that cares, that is creative, that really is up on the latest pedagogy and child development, you do NOT want people to know that you are like every other school. If fact, you strive to be different, and you want to let others know that you are unique.

There are many, many instances of this that I witnessed over many years with the district. The one that stuck in my craw in particular was the insistence on having every school website look (almost) exactly the same. Gak!

I'm glad EDM is finally gone, and I think the new Board backed adoption is probably better than the SPS preference, but really, folks. Look at the bigger picture of an ever tightening centralized control grip on SPS schools.

Is it better? Does it make schools stronger? Does it increase student learning (do NOT look at test scores for the answer here)? Does it make students happier and more well adjusted?

Let schools exercise some autonomy, and SPS will be much, much stronger at turning out kids who are ready to face the world and make a positive difference in it.

mirmac1 said...

Heads don't roll at SPS, butts are covered. Even if you're called out for misusing public funds you're allowed to retire or, heck, even given Principal of the Year!

I once suggested to Banda that heads should roll over some recent scandal (probably violating FERPA in outing a Sped student's identity for media coverage). His look was one of utter incomprehension. Apparently, holding a senior staffer accountable is worse then a felony.

The only reason anyone went down in Pottergate is because the senior staff had left town or gone on to more lucrative jobs. Of course the peons got nailed. That's enough layers below to preserve "plausible deniability."

Banda's rejection of my advice proved to me that the ultimate criteria of what is a fireable offense is not ethics or rule of law, rather it is whether you exercised sufficient CYA for your compadres.

Taxpayer said...

It is worth noting that the combined salaries for Banda, Tulley and Heath are approximately $500K- or half a million dollars.

Throw the bums out!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget they are hiring project managers at $240k for 15 months

Nice work if you can get it

Observer said...

Mark, your vision of independent schools is lovely. But as things stand now, principals are unable to act independently of whatever dictate is coming from the district office.

As we speak, principals are being heavily pressured over the weekend by Tolley, Heath, and possibly Banda to request this sham of a waiver. They are NOT being given time to consult their communities, but are being told a waiver has to be turned in by Tuesday, a process that has taken months, if not years, in the past.

Right now we have the epitome of a rigid, top down structure. And the marching orders are NOT coming from the Board. Until and unless the corruption within JSCEE is broken, you will never get to your lovely vision of autonomous and healthy schools.

Observer

Observer said...

According to posters over at Cliff Mass's blog, the staff at at least two schools were informed late Friday afternoon that they will be voting early Monday morning, before school starts, on whether to apply for a waiver for enVision. Neither school is piloting the curriculum. Unclear if the voting will be anonymous. Also unclear if the staff has reviewed the curriculum or had any prior discussion whatsover of the materials. Both commentators claim the parent population is enthusiastic about MiF and prefers it over enVision. No school names given yet, though one looks to be in the north end.

This is utter madness.

Observer

Anonymous said...

Spoke to James Genereaux, Sales Mgr. of Hougton Mifflin Harcourt and lead of its MiF pitch to SPS to ask about MiF/Common Core alignment concerns. Thought to ask him as Director McLaren's comments to a weblink in her rebuttal I've not seen referred to here or elsewhere. And completely unsure whether the Adoption Committee was aware of it. My recollection on Weds. Board Meeting that it was news to Mr. Tolley. My take on many of the principals/teachers' concerns are Common Core related and the high stakes testing coming as have read pundits suggesting our kids will score 10-15% lower (even without a new math curricula adoption).

He responded:

"Here are the correlations between MIF and the CCSS. This is the 2013 link – the 2015 program is even better at providing both the Singapore Math and CCSS pathways – the 2015 link will be online shortly.

http://www.hmhco.com/shop/education-curriculum/math/math-in-focus-singapore-math/why-math-in-focus-singapore-math/correlations

CCSS was built in based on Math in Focus and all current MIF users consider MIF to be extremely well aligned to the CCSS.

Here is a good Tribune article on a MIF district implementation.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-06-05/news/ct-district-38-singapore-tl-0605-20140605_1_math-program-singapore-math-curriculum"

Queried whether we could push back the date of June 10th to allow for more transparency of the waiver process. He advised several times that the dates are SPSs and that Harcourt will meet those dates. My sense was that this is negotiable.

Queried whether MiF price will remain the same with a widescale envision waiver adoption and was advised that the contract is still being negotiated.

It appeared to me that the waiver issues discussed here ad nauseum was news to him.

Hopefully, the above links will allay some valid concerns for principals and teachers.

Here are the questions as I see it: 1. How will the fast-track waiver process play out, and how will public trust be restored when parents and the community are potentially unaware of waiver requests? 2. Will the non-voting aye Boardmembers Carr, Martin-Morris and Blanford back up the board's majority - (I see this is a very different issue than Math adoption). 3. Will this be part of the Supt's evaluation this week? 4. Will the dates change to allow for more transparent public engagement?

From a public policy standpoint, this is someone's master's thesis - especially when the public disclosure documents come in.

Leslie








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

Unsigned comment (sounds like "For Progress' from other posts) so I'm reposting with my comment…..

"Anonymous said...
It's interesting that the proponents here of the conservative back to basics MIF, are quick to use the language of the authoritarians (sedition, insubordination) when they speak of the district staff, who are honorable and over-worked public servants. "


If curriculum aligns with social values, then it is not a pretty place we are headed to with MIF.
Folks using those terms are doing so because they are disappointed and angry to see the unelected administrators (the authorities) overriding the outcome of the democratic process. In fact, if you're concerned about crooked, secretive, dictatorial regimens - I'd look a little harder the 'honorable' SPS administrators you so admire, than at the commenters here. Once again -it's just about the math - the district is making this about so much more.

Geez

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

You are all missing a sense of reality. You talk like the board action is a good thing. The board broke the democratic process. Thus the principals are acting independently against old school math ideas, they are the professionals who know better than a weatherman. Math is not just about numbers, it is about practical application of concepts. Schools like Schmitz Park and the teacher at WS Stem are out of step with what other sps teachers are asking for, something to help people learn math, not score well on tests. Democracy is not about the board proceeding with their own ideas. Democracy is about a board approved adoption process with community members that selects an option by majority vote, and like our government we understand that the majority vote rules, instead of a vocal minority highjacking the process. This is a board made disaster!

Sign,
Tired of people not listening to teachers!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Geez, you make some odd points.

What "social values" are you talking about?

And sorry, but legally, the Board IS the final voice on math adoption. So it would appear that others are unhappy with the vote.

If you think I'm "crooked, secretive or dictatorial" well, no, I'm not crooked or secretive (not if I sign my own name to everything) , maybe dictatorial (but at least I allow any civil comment).

jl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Magua said...

This is pure politics.

We are not talking about an adoption in which the curriculum was plucked out of a hat. Math in Focus and Envision were front runners under active consideration.

Staff made a play against dual adoption, which Directors Peters and McLaren HAD proposed. They posited that it was not good for SPS students to live in a dual adoption world - that a more mobile student could not then move from one school to another and continue with a familiar math curriculum. They argued that dual adoption was the most expensive option.

This gambit succeeded. Directors McLaren and Peters withdrew their dual adoption amendment.

And then did what apparently staff didn't imagine was possible: adopted a different single math curriculum.

It just wasn't the curriculum staff wanted.

Teaching & Learning has historically been grudging with waivers and made it as difficult as possible for schools to receive waivers. And yet suddenly, things don't go ENTIRELY their way (again: Math in Focus was, effectively, a finalist along with Envision) and it's WAIVERS FOR EVERYONE.

It's also bullsh**. In the case of the heads of Teaching & Learning, we are not talking about underpaid, overworked public servants. We are talking about highly compensated employees who are throwing down a political gauntlet and seeing if the board will blink, or accept the challenge.

Banda's got himself covered - Tolley and Heath, however, are hanging in the wind should the board decide this is not okay. Because if the board stands up and says "NOT HAPPENING," Banda act contrite, say that T&L got carried away because of their conviction in the superiority of a curriculum, and fire them.

jl said...

I wonder if the Board had chosen Envision, if most of you would have been lobbying for principals to apply for a waiver. I wonder how many of you have spent time looking at EnVison, the CCSS-M, and Math in Focus for yourselves.


I am a teacher, a parent, and a member of the MAC, and I feel like Envision is a better fit for the students at SPS.

While I think the Ed reform movement has some problems, I do think standards based education is a positive step in how we teach students. I do think the vitriol and divisiveness in this conversation is unfortunate. I do think the board should have listened to the advisory committee. People keep citing data to support MiF but I have not seen any actual data. Highline had a slight bump, which may occur anytime you provide the PD that is often lacking, or it may be from the new curriculum, but it is way too early to establish a trend, or to know if they will ever get into the high 80’s in terms of percent at standard.

TIMMS scores and the NAEP have improved over the last 15 years of reform mathematics, but I agree we could and should do better. No curriculum alone can do that.
My personal opinion, based on hours of review, 12 years of teaching math, and a solid understanding of the standards is that EnVision would meet the needs of more students. Concept development (including visual models that are not language dependent) are strong in Envision and I noticed some similarities with Singapore methods, particularly the use of bar models. I looked carefully at how multiplication is taught and practiced and believe EnV does a much more thorough job than MiF. MiF’s differentiation basically says to go back and do the prior grade again, without any new or different approach, where EnV has a suite of options to help kids who are struggling. The technology components are not dependent on the deployment, but are far superior in terms of models, practice, engaging games, and most importantly assessment. Good assessment that is easy to implement and collect is essential to the teaching profession because it gives us the tools to meet individual needs.


I asked our principal to look into a waiver, and I know many others on the MAC have as well. Not as part of a conspiracy and not from some pressure from above, but from a sincere place of concern that EnV is a better choice. I also fear that my students will not be properly prepared for Common Core assessments, not because I want to teach to the test, but because I want the tools to teach to the standards.

It is such a tricky balance- who should we listen to; teachers, parents, politicians? I guess it depends on if one agrees with what they are saying. The EnVison curriculum tries to be many things, and was written with the learning progressions in mind. It is not perfect, but by the sound of the echo chamber here, it seems like people believe it will harm their children, and MiF will not. I do know that if I am directed to use MiF that I will also be required to supplement much more than I would have if I was able to use EnVison, and that alone creates a less than uniform situation. I also know that all the schools received the Marshall Cavendish Elementary Math program, which MiF was a direct update from (and is still on the shelves at most schools).

I also do agree our district, the board and the administration is dysfunctional and that makes me sad. It is not intentional, and I am not sure how to fix it, but it seems that better relationships and communication with everyone, teachers, parents, students, administrators and the board would go a long way.

If there was any strong arming going on with the MAC, it was from the board. I was actually surprised that there was not more participation from staff, now I realize that might have been on purpose to preserve the integrity of the committee. I also feel betrayed by the board members who voted for MiF as it seems that they had already decided and had a hidden agenda from the beginning. Perhaps if they had been on the committee, we would not be in this mess in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Melissa - don't shoot the messenger! I was reposting a comment from an unsigned poster which said the following
"Anonymous said...
It's interesting that the proponents here of the conservative back to basics MIF, are quick to use the language of the authoritarians (sedition, insubordination) when they speak of the district staff, who are honorable and over-worked public servants.
If curriculum aligns with social values, then it is not a pretty place we are headed to with MIF." (end comment)

My comment in response was added below it, suggesting if this poster is concerned about crooked, secretive, dictatorial regimens - they should look a little harder at the 'honorable' SPS administrators they so admire….

Hope that clears things up

Geez

Anonymous said...

@Sign- you don't know what you are talking about. Cliff Mass is just a weatherman?!
Math is not just about the numbers huh? Well I happen to think it is just about numbers and numerical concepts - it's certainly not about writing essays anyway.
One of the arguments for Envision (from the district and MAC) is that it is better aligned to CCSS- i.e better for teaching to the test. Yet you seem to think it will 'help people learn math, not score well on tests". Sorry- but if my kids learn math from a decent curriculum they will score well on tests. That is not teaching to the test. that is teaching per se.

Folks can agree to disagree on the merits of each curriculum. One of the problems is there is very little true research in education (its not like science or medicine), mostly everything comes down to fads and opinions. Some people have examined the curriculum or have some experience with the various options and feel strongly about one or the other. We all have best intentions here.
But this followed a well-defined lawful public process, and now it's like Bush vs Gore or something. SPS doesn't like the result so they're finding a way around it. I respect the opinions of those who prefer ENvison, and agree in concept with schools being able to select the best math curriculum for their population, with a consultation process that involved all the stakeholders. However, SPS made it quite clear that they would not grant this option to schools who preferred something other than envision if that was adopted. That is just not the way the district should operate.

Geez

Anonymous said...

-----Original Message-----
From: Heath, Shauna L
Sent: Monday, April 28, 2014 9:15 AM
To: Kischner, Gerrit; Anderson, Eric M; Box, Anna M
Cc: Tolley, Michael F; Block, Kae HSubject:
RE: Principal math comments

Gerrit,

We will find a time to meet with you about the data [...].

As far as applying for a waiver,...I would encourage that the innovation focus at a supplemental level and professional development rather than shifts in adopted materials.

That said, all funds will be going toward the purchase of the new materials so there will be no monetary support forwaivers outside of the adoption.

Best,Shauna

from page 230 of http://www.scribd.com/doc/226359818/Math-Adoption-emails

FYI

Anonymous said...

@ FYI

Citing: from page 230 of http://www.scribd.com/doc/226359818/Math-Adoption-emails

Heath to Kischner Email: "That said, all funds will be going toward the purchase of the new materials so there will be no monetary support for waivers outside of the adoption."

BINGO! And, it's on the record. All these enVision waivers will drop the price of the MIF purchase because Heath has already made it clear that there is no money for materials not adopted. And, when the enVision schools perform below the MIF schools (a certainty)…they will lose their waivers.

So, all this hoopla means some schools will be delayed in MIF implementation.

Deja Vu

Anonymous said...


-----Original Message-----
From: Heath, Shauna L
Sent: Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:46 PM
To: Kischner, Gerrit
Subject: RE: Principal math comments

Gerrit

,I apologize that I didn't get to this sooner. I might have time on my way to a meeting at 6:30 tonightto chat. In case that doesn't work I will offer my initial response.

As I said before we do not have the funds and/or the capacity to support two programs. In addition to the fact that I believe that this would continue to divide the system. Again, the waiver process, although not guaranteed, is a way that schools can utilize other programs.I am not sure if you have review envisions, but it offers a reading component as well as a differentiation component. In other words, the text can be read electronically for those students who struggle with reading.

I would really like to have you talk to Adam about the benefits of this program.Please let me know if 6:30 works and where to call.

Best,
Shauna

signed FYI

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

JL, staff was all over the Math Adoption committee. I only attended one meeting and I saw that.

I can only say that I have heard from teachers on both sides and reasonable - experts - can disagree.

Interesting e-mails.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Linh-Co said...

Reposting for:

Anonymous said...
jl: I think a true dual adoption would've been preferred by everyone. But, the district foreclosed that and was prepared to kick schools with waivers to the curb and say, "Too bad. We're all on the same page now."

What we are witnessing here is rank hypocrisy by staff who said, "We cannot do that." Yet, whom are now doing exactly that, at breakneck speed. It's JSCEE's credibility that's in the toilet, and I'm supposed to trust them and their professional judgment? Bad timing to ask for that, to say the least.

We listened to teachers, principals, and an adoption committee before, and it got us EDM and CMP. As much as you don't like it, we aren't going down that road again. Principals were unanimous in support of Discovery MS math, only 5 short years ago. Sorry, but not again.

But what bothers me is your accusations of conspiracies and such, followed by your accusations and insinuations of hypocrisy, strong-arming by the board, and MIF supporters having "hidden agendas."

Now who's alleging conspiracies? Seems to me you're committing every sin you accuse those who disagree with you of when you employ such terms.

I hear what you're saying and respect it, but only to the point where concerned and involved citizens are passively demonized and marginalized by folks who agree with SPS staff. "I came into it with an open mind, but THEY had a hidden agenda!" Honestly, who can't say that about almost anything people differ over?

And if we're going to talk strong-arming, let's start with what's going on with principals and BLT's right here, right now.

Anonymous said...

Linh-Co asked me to post the following:

From: js
Date: Sun, Jun 8, 2014 at 10:21 PM

Subject:

Heath: "no monetary support for waivers outside of the adoption" 4/28/14

To: Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Michael Tolley, Teaching & Learning" Kenneth Gotsch Budget&Finance

Cc: "Peaslee, Sharon D" "McLaren, Martha" sue.peters betty.patu Sherry Carr harium.martin-morris stephan.blanford slheath@seattleschools.org,

Dear Superintendent Banda,

I would like to inform you, and remind Mr. Tolley, that Shauna Heath has made unambiguous statements just over one month ago about the question of whether Seattle Public Schools possesses capacity to fund waivers. Her statements are contained in the emails reproduced below.

I suppose these emails will be relevant to conversations at Monday's C&I meeting.


The following can be found at pages 230, and 229, respectively of the file located at the following URL:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/226359818/Math-Adoption-emails

I see that Mr. Tolley was cc'd on these emails. I find no emails in the public disclosure record to show that Mr. Tolley disagreed with Ms. Heath's statements.

Has SPS's capacity to fund waivers has suddenly changed? If so, I wonder what is the cause of that change?


Regards,
Joan Sias

Anonymous said...

@anon at 10:13
"And if we're going to talk strong-arming, let's start with what's going on with principals and BLT's right here, right now."

Couldn't agree with you more!

Waiver discussions and/or applications, if necessary, should originate from our school communities... not from our principals' bosses (or their bosses, etc...).

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

WSDWG, up.

Anonymous said...

My guess is Peters, et al. actually WANT a cirriculum that inhibits differentiation as it fits with the AL crowd's(some) contention that differentiation is impossible and we must maintain owr separate but equal APP program. The real conspiracy is the trick that was played on the adoption committee and the district management by the board majority. This blog has acted like MiF is from Euclid himself and enVision is a foreign plot to destroy America's mathematical prowess.
The Lawton principal's statement was quite reasonable. More language, better for differentiation, respecting the committee. Are you going to get sincere, involved parents to volunteer for adoption work if they know it's all pressure and politics in the end?
I, for one(literally?), never had a problem with EDM. I tutored math in grades 2 thru 5 and, while I found EDM bizarre and unfamiliar at times, it was still math and kids learned to multiply and divide. My biggest beef about it was staff not being willing to put in the prep to learn a few new tricks. I remember kids who actually did find the lattice method the easier way for them to multiply, at first, and it actually made math fresh.
I see this blog blowing a huge smokescreen of outrage to cover their bullying tactics.
Power to the people or power to the noisy people with axes to grind.

hippy

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the Board needs to be made aware of communications around funding of waivers.

Without something in writing to promise district funding, why would schools go with a waiver? There is no trust left at this point. Are they going to promise a waiver, then yank funding? Are better funded schools being encouraged to seek a waiver, or is it being pushed at all schools?

zero trust

Anonymous said...

Wow hippy! Even though it was bound to happen, you made it official. Everything wrong in this district is APP's fault! Even the Math Vote!

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Whaaaaaat? I have read one person on here argue that enVision is better for kids who don't master the material quickly, but I favor MiF in part because I find it more developmentally appopriate for advanced students in younger grades- that is, a second grader would not have trouble writing on the lines or composing answers to the 4th grade text books. Better for the in class material at APP, but also better for walk to math at local schools, keeping more kids there.

Kids do eventually learn to multiply and divide, but years later than in either enVision or MiF. I contend that drawing out the relatively dull arithmetic like that kills real mathematic interest, like if we made phonics last until 4th grade, and didn't get to real story reading until then. I tutor too, and to a child, the struggling kids found the multi digit subtraction model wildly confusing and difficult. They got it in two minutes flat with the standard algorithm, and then could back into finding the other model interesting- but it doesn't teach them how to actually subtract in the course of a larger problem, for example.

I *do* think they are both worlds better than EDM. I was not horrified when envision was chosen, though a bit resigned and disappointed in a flawed bureaucratic process. But what is happening now is a regular three ring circus, and I am puzzled at how the district is going to sell this with a straight face.

-sleeper

Lara said...

Insubordination.

I wrote RAndy Dorn. Let's fill his inbox

Thanks @ loosing faith in democracy.

Anonymous said...

@hippy - I've tutored at the middle school level, where the rubber meets the road. The lattice method doesn't cut it.

As far as math for advanced learners, seriously?? You really think a Board member would select a district wide program with only one group of learners in mind? Let's remember Patu supported MIF as well. Highline is having success with MIF and they have 22% transitional bilingual students and 70% FRL.

sheesh

Anonymous said...

@Hippy

Good analysis. You are correct.

For progress

Anonymous said...

@zero trust

The emergency BLT meeting/staff vote on an EnVision waiver thing must be pretty wide-spread.

John Rogers is not a particularly well-funded school, and we made the list.

- JR Mom

NotAConspirator said...

@ jl To answer your question: “I wonder if the Board had chosen Envision, if most of you would have been lobbying for principals to apply for a waiver. I wonder how many of you have spent time looking at EnVison, the CCSS-M, and Math in Focus for yourselves.” I think there would have been any number of people advocating for a waiver, but in that case they would have had a difficult time obtaining it given SPS’s seeming rejection of MiF.

“I do think the board should have listened to the advisory committee.” Why? I reviewed the rationale for choosing Envision over other viable options that included Math in Focus, and there was not a single bullet point that cited the need for data/evidence around effectiveness. Nothing. So I treated the advisory committee as just that advisory, but like a doctor who gives me a crap diagnosis, I felt that this lack of emphasis on evidence (vs. Common Core alignment rationale) was a huge credibility buster.
I asked our principal to look into a waiver, and I know many others on the MAC have as well. Not as part of a conspiracy and not from some pressure from above, but from a sincere place of concern that EnV is a better choice. I also fear that my students will not be properly prepared for Common Core assessments, not because I want to teach to the test, but because I want the tools to teach to the standards.

“It is such a tricky balance- who should we listen to; teachers, parents, politicians?” Ultimately it’s not tricky. Politicians need to listen to voters (in this case of a math choice, voters are most parents). Voters ultimately decide, whether they are an educated bunch or are a bunch or morons, they decide. That’s the definition of democracy.
What’s ironic in this ‘tricky balance” statement is that, at least in our school, teachers were not involved in any responsible way in the decision around which math curriculum to use. They were told “in your spare time, you should go to this location to review the texts”. They were not treated as professionals and were in no way integral, not even via a survey, in informing the process. Maybe our school was the only one in which teachers were broadly disenfranchised.
“The EnVison curriculum … is not perfect, but by the sound of the echo chamber here, it seems like people believe it will harm their children, and MiF will not.” I don’t think that’s the case, and I certainly don’t think it will harm my children, I’m glad we are abandoning Everyday Math and going to better stuff BUT given a choice I simply think I want the best for children.

“I also do agree our district, the board and the administration is dysfunctional and that makes me sad.” I completely agree.
“I also feel betrayed by the board members who voted for MiF as it seems that they had already decided and had a hidden agenda from the beginning.” You should not feel betrayed, you gave your advice and had it not been for the central office putting an end to Amendment #1 (dual adoption) there could have been a choice for schools. The Board (Sue Peters) only retracted Amendment #1 because she had to. It was then that the central office got their surprise that she introduced Amendment #2 (sole adoption of MiF). Dual adoption being introduced first – I’m not sure how you can read that as a conspiracy. Also feeling betrayed is a way of saying that the decision was the MAC’s decision not the Board’s. We elected the Board on this issue—and it would be na├»ve to not know where they stood based on previous statements and actions.

Anonymous said...

Readers/Writers Workshop does not work for our student body. We would like a change. We will expect prompt review and acceptance as well as funding for our preferred curriculum via the waiver process. The precedent is being set on Monday.

Watching Carefully

Disgusted said...

Sheesh is correct. The lattice method is sold as an alternative method. It seems odd to parents because0it is. The same children do not have quick recall abilities, which catch-up in middle school.

Very interesting e-mails regarding funding of waivers.

The district has egg on their faces. Shame on them.

Anonymous said...

Is there a clear distinction between this emergency waiver process and a dual adoption?

According to Board Policy 2020, waivers have a duration of 3 years.

Instructional materials adoptions are for 7 years, correct?

If this was a dual adoption, then it would seem to follow that SPS would cover expenses for the full 7 years, Math in Focus or Envision.

Math in Focus was approved as a sole adoption (since Director Peters and McLaren were told a dual adoption wasn't possible), so it would seem to follow that Math in Focus would be funded for the full 7 years, but if waivers are only for 3 years, then these special Envision waivers would perhaps only be funded for 3 years (if that long)???

I'm having trouble figuring out why any school would jump on the Envision waiver bandwagon. Are they just expecting their PTAs to eventually fund Envision?

- JR Mom

Charlie Mas said...

In response to a conjecture, let me respond that I believe that, had enVision been adopted by the Board that a lot of folks would advocate for their schools to seek a waiver and use Math in Focus instead. I believe that conjecture was correct.

That's not the problem.

Had those schools sought those waivers, I further believe that the District senior staff would follow the usual long, difficult waiver process that often ends with a capricious denial. That is not, however, what we are seeing in reality right now.

So let's step away from conjecture and a false issue and face reality and the actual issue.

The actual issue is that the senior staff is subverting and shortcutting the waiver process to get a de facto adoption that they wanted. That's the complaint; that's the problem; that's the violation of the rules and practices that is getting people riled.

Had this been an organic, bottom-up call from school communities to seek waivers and if they had to endure the waiver process as we know it, there would be no complaints. The problem isn't that schools are seeking waivers, the problem is that the call for waivers is top-down and the process is being unfairly corrupted.

Anonymous said...

These comments appear around minute 75 or 76 on Tape 2 of the May 21 School Board meeting. These are not exact quotes, but are near exact quotes:

Michael Tolley: Schools choosing waiver are required to provide the funding. That is not funded by district typically. But there are exceptions.

Shauna Heath: as far as we know the exception was that the waiver was supported at the same rate that we were providing for the other buildings around Everyday Math. So if it was the cost of the textual materials for EDM, that was the same rate we gave to the exception schools.

{I will share this with Senior Staff and school directors in the morning. It was curiousity about these statements that lead me to formally request information about these so-called "exception" schools.)

JS

Anonymous said...

The decision is ultimately with Superintendent Banda. Will he support what appears to be a forced and coerced movement for waivers? Will enough parents protest if the decision is made by schools in the absence of community input? Will the Board approve the contract to purchase EnVision materials?

I also fear that my students will not be properly prepared for Common Core assessments, not because I want to teach to the test, but because I want the tools to teach to the standards.

Where are people getting the idea that Math in Focus will not prepare students for Common Core assessments? It's a rigorous program. Are teachers afraid of it?

HC

Anonymous said...

If differentiation is the key to achievement for all students, why pick MiF? That's what I'm hearing. If the committee felt pressured by staff, they need to stand up and say so. Otherwise the board majority subverted them.
I don't like a district that is run by bloggers and their candidates on the school board. I remember Peters getting a daily if not hourly mediA massage here durinlg the election. Well, now we got it, policy by by the blog.

OP

Charlie Mas said...

While we're playing the conjecture game, let's consider this question: How would Susan Estes have voted on the K-5 Math instructional materials motion?

Elections have consequences. Democracy matters.

Charlie Mas said...

A quick word about differentiation.

Simultaneous with the implementation of Common Core State Standards, the District is supposed to be implementing Multi-Tier System of Support (MTSS). MTSS calls for all students to be taught the Tier I curriculum - this would be the Common Core standards and the district-adopted instructional materials.

However, for students for whom the Tier I curriculum doesn't work, there will be Tier II curricula. The Tier II curricula could have different instructional materials in addition to different instructional strategies.

This system - with a separate tier - facilitates differentiation regardless of the instructional materials used for Tier I.

Charlie Mas said...

They are folks who are upset about the Board not adopting the materials recommended by the Advisory Committee. They wrote that this action was insulting and made without the expertise or investment used to develop the recommendation.

That may well be true. How is it any different from all of the other times that the Board or the senior staff ignored the recommendations of advisory committees?

jl said...

Melissa,
I was all the meetings, and other than Anna Box introducing herself and thanking us, Eric Caldwell from IMC, and legal counsel came in to answer specific questions we had explaining the logistics of our role vis a vis the IMC. There was no other direction from the staff. We did have 3 (Barbara G, consultant, Shawn S. Librarian, and Adam D, Elementary Math dept.) as facilitators who did a great and impartial job.

The morning you attended our meeting was after some board members called our facilitators and members of the IMC to question our process. If other staff were in the room at that point I did not know who they were and they did not speak. I later met Ms. Heath, but she had no role on the committee. That meeting was incredibly frustrating, as all we did was decide that what we had decided about how to decide things was still what we decided. In fact our meetings mostly were about how to make decisions and reach consensus; the time to review was eroded by making sure every voice was heard, and that we were within the our role as a committee so the board would not question our process or recommendation. Because the committee had people with integrity, we all reviewed the material extensively on our own outside the meeting times.

Community participation was strong on the committee, and we did consider and read all the comments and data from the community. MiF had the most votes and that was weighed accordingly (I know may disagree with that approach).

Anonymous, If I get a diagnosis from a doctor that I disagree with, I am likely to ask another doctor than to go with what my neighbor says or put it up to a popular vote.

I spoke to an agenda by the board for MiF, not a conspiracy, and I called it hidden, because I was under the impression that our recommendation and time mattered.

I am dismayed that a dual adoption option was taken off the table for legal reasons that I don't quite comprehend. The waiver issue is also a big mess. The directive was to have one choice, by rule I suppose. It is an end run to grant and pay for waivers, but it would save money (since MiF is so expensive). Although it does create a mess of PD, fairness and consistency.

I was not trying to be ironic, and I find myself struggling how messed up our politics are. Squeaky wheels (aka vocal minorities), mistrust on all sides, and divisiveness pollute good decision making; such as finding a way to have a dual adoption for instance. I know we need to agree to disagree sometimes, and that good people make valid choices that run counter to each other at times. When our ends justify our means (for which I am guilty of in hoping we can get a waiver that is paid for) then the process is tainted.

btw I don't think the schools that are using EnV have a waiver. The dislike of EDM and the district's lack of leadership there led to a lot of schools teaching curriculum without official waivers, mostly paid for by PTAs.

Schools used to have more autonomy, and some still operate that way. Another dichotomy that is hard to grapple with, I like to have autonomy to do what is right for kids. But doesn't that imply a mistrust again?

At the end of the day, I will teach children math and everything else I can using the materials available to me. So far I have been relatively successful at that.




Melissa Westbrook said...

"This blog has acted like MiF is from Euclid himself and enVision is a foreign plot to destroy America's mathematical prowess."

Hyperbole,much? C'mon.

"I, for one(literally?), never had a problem with EDM. I tutored math in grades 2 thru 5 and, while I found EDM bizarre and unfamiliar at times, it was still math and kids learned to multiply and divide."

You realize how you contradict yourself in this sentence. usually "no problem" does not go with "bizarre and unfamiliar" if you are speaking on a topic you teach.

How did this blog - which people can choose to read or not read - bully anyone in this decision-making process?

If teachers feel they were not part of the process in a big enough way, the time to say it was months ago via SEA. Did SEA ever issue any statement?

"I don't like a district that is run by bloggers and their candidates on the school board." Funniest thing I've read in a long time. If only.

You do realize that we ALL had to suffer through boards we did not like.

I repeat what I said in my Board thread - Mr. Tolley's slide on waivers stated that not all schools using different curriculum had waivers. So kind of a free-for-all out there and it appears it will only get worse.

And again, no one on any committee should ever expect their work recommendations to be fully honored. That is not the way in this district and it's been said enough times that I'm surprised anyone believes it to be so.

I can say for certain that no one on any committee was ever told that their recommendation was what the Board would end up choosing. (What would have been even more interesting is if the Committee had one choice, the staff another and the Board another. What would we have done then?)

Two issues remain:
- fast-tracking waivers. Nearly everyone knows this is wrong and complete nonsense.
- staff - whatever their reasons- should not be trying to ride roughshod over a Board vote.

This is why many parents/teachers don't trust the district. They will not use consistency of any kind.

Eric B said...

I have heard from a reliable source that there is a meeting of principals scheduled for Tuesday regarding math waivers. It would be very interesting to see the minutes of that meeting. It might also be interesting for a Board director to sit in.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eric, that would be great if it could happen (for someone to sit in). But PASS is a private group/association so I doubt anyone could sit in or get the minutes.

Anonymous said...

Singapore was a godsend to my APP-in-a-gen-ed-elem kid. We did it at home and it fed her love of math and her understanding of it on a deep level. Not sure why people are saying it does not support differentiation or won't work for APP. Can't you just move them along faster? That's what we did, at home, and she ate it up, sailed through Algebra this year as a 6th grader, and now wants to major in math. Never heard that with EDM!

Our Principal is fond of saying that differentiation is not going faster, but going deeper. But in Math, isn't that the same thing? Learning to apply the skills in more complex ways?

SPS mom

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a weird question.

Aren't the Board members expected to support majority decisions of the Board? Argue one way or the other, vote one way or the other, but once a vote has been made and a majority decision reached the Board members, all of the Board are supposed to support that decision, right?

Isn't that right?

After the 4-3 vote approving the amendment, the vote that replaced enVision with Math in Focus, there was a vote on the original motion, as amended. That vote was always passed 4-3.

Weren't the three Board members who voted against the amended motion taking a position in opposition to a decision that was already made by a vote of the Board and weren't they, in fact, violating the protocol that Board members support decisions made by the Board?

Or, because it was a separate vote, it was the appropriate time and place for opposition?

Lynn said...

Autonomy in curriculum choice, in service delivery method for struggling and advanced learners and in the amount of PE/art/music instruction offered has no place in an attendance area school. Under the NSAP, families are stuck with what their assigned school offers. In a public school district, these are things that should be available no matter what your address is and no matter which principal is assigned to your school.

The board has adopted an elementary math curriculum. Every student in an attendance area school should receive it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, I think the Board - this one - struggles with the order to vote and how to vote (Ron English had to explain what they were voting for and what yay and nay would mean.)

That said, I am surprised that Sherry and Harium, as senior Board members, did not vote yes to support the choice after the amendment passed. Blanford never seems to know what is going on so I don't count him.

Anonymous said...

I have contacted Principal Sanger at Bryant and he has told me via email this morning that he will follow the Board's adoption of Math in Focus and not request a waiver.

Bryant Mom

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

Like Readers and Writers Workshop? And EDM? And CMP? I guess that's where the argument breaks down. There have been adoptions of weak materials and schools are stuck with them. MIF is a strong program and now we have to fight to have the Board adopted materials in the classroom? That's what's crazy.

The waiver process was not intended to subvert the Board adoption process on a large scale. As the policy states, "The purpose of allowing instructional material waivers is to encourage innovation in buildings and to allow schools to customize a student's experience." Choosing either curriculum - Envision or MIF - is likely to raise overall student achievement, but how is choosing Envision over MIF, innovative?

The waiver process also states "Schools for which a waiver is granted must take all relevant district and state assessments, and must, on average over the 3-year waiver period, meet or exceed the gains demonstrated by peer schools that are using the district-adopted materials for all segments of their population in order to continue using the alternative basic instructional materials."

That stipulation would give me great pause as a principal. Before the comparison curriculum was EDM, but now it's MIF. The burden of showing gains against a solid curriculum, year after year, and the possibility of having to provide PD because it's not the adopted curriculum, plus the possibility of having to start over in 3 years, is it worth it? Do principals feel that strongly about Envision?

parent

Eric B said...

@Charlie, I think that rule takes effect after the votes are taken. I think it is totally reasonable to have a 4-3 vote on "Let's adopt MIF instead" followed by a 4-3 vote on "Let's adopt MIF". The next day, you would expect all of the directors that voted against MIF to say something like "What I feel about the process isn't important. What matters is that we adopted MIF and we're going forward with that."

That said, it would have been very sportsmanlike for directors to vote no on the MIF amendment and then yes on the adoption. That's not necessarily a gesture I expect, especially after a long meeting when things were kind of confused about what they were doing.

Eric B said...

@Melissa, Don't know if this was a meeting of PASS or a staff meeting of all principals. If it's the former, nobody else gets to go, especially Tolley and Heath. If it's the latter (presumably led by Tolley or Heath), then it's public record.

Anonymous said...

Hyperbole you say? How about "sedition".
And logically, how does bizaarre and unfamiliar preclude good instructional material?
We shouldn't teach string theory or dark matter and dark energy theory because they are strange and unfamiliar? Thank the goddesses that Einstein went beyond the accepted logic of his day.
That's the whole idea, successful or not, behind "discovery" type mathematics. We have great new machines for calculating, computers; what we need are thinkers. If the lattice method gets a few kids interested in mathematics history, or gives them a way to multiply until they understand carrying, that is a good thing. Students are not meant to use lattice as their technique in middle school, that's a red herring. Let's face facts, we adults rarely use division in normal life, but we do need to read and comprehend complex written instructions, whether at work or an IKEA cabinet(actually a lot of pictograms).
The teachers that I worked with always supplemented with basic drill and kill worksheets, especially pre MSP time.
Why be so dismissive of jl'scomments. He was there. He put in the time. He teaches elementary kids.
The whole process of ramming MiF down our throats stinks.
And Mr Mas, your logic is disturbing. You apparently adhere to the "if they do it, I'll do it" philosophy. By your logic, it's criminal when the board ignores the various AL TFs recommendations but tit for tat hunky dory when they ignore a curriculum committee that you disagree with. Convenient.
Hyperbole, Ms. Westbrook? Really?
Maybe you missed some of the comments about enVision.
It is interesting we have enVision to the north in Shoreline, a pretty strong district, and MiF in Highline to the south, also doing pretty well. To me, that says either curriculum is going to work, it's this weird power play between the district and the vox populi, as exemplified by this blog, that is so interesting. I don't like government by rabble rousing, that's what the TeaParty tried and the NRA, and look what we have from that, dead kids and a paralyzed, name calling, race baiting congress.
Orderly proccess helps everyone, we need to move away from demagoguery. I think Mr. Banda is good leader and calling him "seditious" is terrible. I think the problems lie more with the board and it's process. We need real professionals with real political and educational experience and I don't see a lot of that. I'd rather have three well paid and well qualified directors than a pack of volunteer gadflies, not that we have such a group, but that's where things tend to go when public service in a large contentious district is basically a hobby.
Fix the systemic problems and quit this ad hoc temper tantruming.
hippy

Anonymous said...

@jl: Vocal minorities?

You have no data to support that statement. In fact, the only data we collected contradicts it.

Statements like that continue to erode my confidence in the quality of math instructoin in SPS.

Incorrect, faith-based claims are simply propaganda in the absence of validity measures and controls, like sample size, and the population it was drawn from.

You may have many arguments about validity based simply on the selection process and/or sample size, but you cannot say a "vocal minority," when you have no data whatsoever beyond the people who commented.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

@hippy wrote: "Fix the systemic problems and quit this ad hoc temper tantruming."

Couldn't agree more. The Board voted, and now district staff are throwing temper tantrums over it.

Wow, hippy. I thought we'd never agree on anything.

Politics indeed makes strange bed fellows.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing. The school district is a public organization funded by tax dollars. It is set up as a representative democracy, where the school board is elected by the community to represent the community's interests.

The superintendent in our district is appointed by the school board. Additionally, the school board is tasked with oversight of the district and has the final word on policy and things like math adoption that have been delegated to their decision making authority.

Unlike in the federal government, the superintendent does NOT have veto power. School board decisions are final. That is the how the representative democratic process is set up in this district, whether anyone likes it or not.

Central Staff and Principals are neither elected nor appointed by a democratic process. They are hired by the superintendent, and ultimately the superintendent is responsible for requiring that the school board's decision are carried out. THAT'S HIS JOB!!!!

Even if the superintendent doesn't like the decision, or the staff or the principals or even the community, it doesn't matter once the vote has been called.

School board decisions are final, and this campaign by the staff is inappropriate if not down-right illegal. If they can simply ignore the board when ever they want to, then it is ANARCHY.

The board needs to re-assert their authority here, or clearly they have divested their responsibility to the community and our democracy.

The Superintendent opposed the dual adoption, because what he really wanted was a single adoption of Envision. The board did not vote the way he wanted, and now he is implementing the dual adoption that he opposed in order to push Envision into the majority of schools.

The actual decision here about one over the other is immaterial. This is about whether or not the superintendent is mutinying. If he so boldly ignores the direct order of the board on this, he'll do it on any number of other decisions. (Oh wait, that's already happening, I forgot...)

civics matter

Melissa Westbrook said...

"...it's this weird power play between the district and the vox populi, as exemplified by this blog, that is so interesting. I don't like government by rabble rousing, that's what the TeaParty tried and the NRA, and look what we have from that, dead kids and a paralyzed, name calling, race baiting congress."

What a long and tortured linkage.

One man's "rabble rousing" is an other man's activism.

Anonymous said...

@civics: It's not only that. Deputy SI Wright's list of "wants" revealed what we should all fear, which is an ever growing central administration full of highly paid administrators drawing more and more dollars from our classrooms to fund pet positions and projects at a time when the median income of Americans has dropped to it's lowest level in 42 years.

Banda & Co. are proving themselves to be financially irresponsible and insensitive to the reality the average parent, teacher and taxpayer face daily.

As Peters said, "We just spent 9 million on a wireless contract" so an extra 2 or 3 million on math materials doesn't seem so out of line when we consider the district's key imperatives.

To parade before the Board all the "invoice reviewers" and "recruiters" they wouldn't be able to hire if they gave students MIF was both audacious and obtuse. We still need a sea change of attitudes within JSCEE.

Again, is working for SPS a "public service and privilege" or a "hook-up to the public dole." Some may find the latter offensive, but who really believes all those additional positions will improve anything in our schools? Honestly?

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

I think we all pretty much know what's going on, why, how, and when. So it's time to move on to the next step. What to do when the Board and staff square off in their respective trenches.

Solutions?

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Hippy said "The whole process of ramming MiF down our throats stinks. "

Well, we had EDM rammed down our throats for 7 years! You had your turn and look how well that worked out (it wasn't open season for waivers in those days either)- now it's our turn for some real math.

Thats the way in goes in a democracy. we don't always like what we get, and if we don't like it, then we have the opportunity to change it. This year we exercised that - with the election of school board members who have a commitment to strong math, and their subsequent amendment and vote for MIF.

Our turn

ScrawnyKayaker said...

Sorry I didn't suggest this days ago, but since the Seattle Times isn't likely to cover this (or will give it the staff's spin), everyone should write to the editors of The Stranger or Seattle Weekly to encourage them to get on the story.

"Representative Democracy Too Good for the Commissars of Seattle Public Schools" should make a catchy headline...

Anonymous said...

I wish I thought Banda was mutinying. Instead, I think he just doesn't understand the waiver process - how it has been working (to deny schools autonomy for better or worse) and how it is now about to be used (suddenly -and only this time- autonomy is great because senior staff got denied their wish.

To hear that Banda thought a fast track waiver process would be fine shows him to be not as detail-oriented in the Curriculum and Learning dept. mecahnics as I'd hoped - a fear I've had these past two years as I've watched Tolley and Heath seem to be the last word on C&L vs. the superintendent himself.

I guess it's hard to be both a big picture and a detail leader, but in a school district as close to a balance of the two in the area of actual academics is necessary and Banda's leader flaws are on display here.

If this process is not corrected soon, damage will be done to the C&L department, which is historically on shaky ground at SPS anyhow. Will it shake out to have yet more turmoil in staff leaving? Possibly. And again, that's one of the reasons SPS gets a bad name - the swirl of staff makes JSCEE often ineffective, especially in the academic and Capital departments.

EdVoter

Anonymous said...

Hippy,

Obviously the teachers you worked with were betraying EDM 'fidelity of implementation'. The teachers in our elementary school were required to surrender supplemental materials and could not even suggest to parents that they teach multiplication tables at home. When I tutored those kids in middle school they were still using the lattice method & the middle school teachers were frantically trying to find time to practice elementary math facts that were not yet mastered. Of course there wasn't enough time, so those deficits got passed on to the algebra teachers in high school.

Is it fair for you to decide that kids don't have to learn to calculate, when they will be relegated to remedial math in college & knocked out of contention for the competitive engineering & computer science majors at UW? UW profs say they have to be able to calculate.

-MS tutor

Anonymous said...

Students are not meant to use lattice as their technique in middle school, that's a red herring.

If students are only taught the lattice method, then allowed to use calculators, then that's what they use in middle school. Not all teachers supplement. That's reality.

parent

Anonymous said...

From another post

"Pls correct the reference to Stevens. Here is what Principal Kelley Archer sent all parents (excerpt):

Friday Stevens staff voted unanimously to support the math adoption committee in filing a waiver, if and only if, the waiver is filed on behalf of all elementary schools. We feel that continuity across the district is of paramount importance as well as the validation of the hard work and time the adoption committee put into their recommendation."

Does that mean SPS staff is trying to forment a revolt, whereby a waiver is filed for ALL elementary schools to do Envsion? Wow, then they could take that to the board and say every single school wants envision how can you go against that (i.e- take your MIF and shove it).
This is not a grass-roots process happening in schools, this is an orchestrated smack-down of the board.

BB

Anonymous said...

Both Math in Focus and enVision are good curriculums, well regarded, vetted by the committee, and in use in surrounding communities with good results.

What I do not get is why staff and Banda are so attached to one over the other that they would blatantly disregard a Board vote and actively work to undermine it.

Is hidden money involved somewhere? Are they chafing at a Board that does not acquiesce to all their recommendations 100% of the time? Are they zealots who erroneously believe that Math in Focus will decimate the math abilities of Seattle students? Or are they so used to dysfunction and political machinations that they are literally willing to intimidate principals and building staff, plus blatantly disregard their own waiver processes, to get whatever they want, people and rules be damned?

No matter which way you look at this, the staff and Banda are overreacting, and stepping way over the line. I hope someone can shine a strong light on what is going on here, and more importantly, why.

Gobsmacked

Anonymous said...

Gobsmacked just asked the perfect questions. Awaiting the answers, which no doubt we'll have to cobble together as a community since JSCEE seems to be AWOL right now. Where is the Communications Department with Banda's statement? There's some 'splainin that needs to be done immediately.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

So, looking forward to a badly needed new middle school math adoption, it should be pretty straight-forward. I doubt many experts will be willing to sign up to waste their time on the adoption committee, but we don't need them anyway. The board can just vote on which curriculum they want, since they are experts and that's democracy. The good news is that we should be able to get rid of CMP2 quickly with this process and have middle-school MIF by the 2015-2016 school year, right? Sounds like a win-win for everyone.

Keep Trucking

Anonymous said...

@civics matter

You wrote "The Superintendent opposed the dual adoption, because what he really wanted was a single adoption of Envision. The board did not vote the way he wanted, and now he is implementing the dual adoption that he opposed in order to push Envision into the majority of schools."

But IS the Superintendent truly implementing a "dual adoption?" I don't think so. The Board did not approve a dual adoption. They approved a sole adoption of MIF.

What the Superintendent and his staff are attempting to implement is a bizarre blanket waiver for multiple schools. I have asked our principal, and she was unclear about the duration of the waiver and whether or not the waiver would be funded by SPS and, if so, for how long.

Since it is not technically a dual adoption, I don't see how there can be any guarantee that it will be paid for by the District for even next year, much less in year seven.

How can SPS expect our schools to jump on this waiver bandwagon if we don't know where it is headed?

Feedback I'm receiving from parents at our school (John Rogers) is overwhelmingly in support of Math in Focus. Our primary concerns with enVision are that it could be too text heavy for our kids (especially ELL and students with reading difficulties), and too tech heavy for our school's modest technology infrastructure. One parent put it in perspective by saying that she isn't holding out hope for tablets and interactive white boards when we can't even get working headphones from the District (our PTA had to buy headphones this year, so our younger kids could do computer testing).

I'm hoping our school stays with the MIF adoption. It is a high-quality program that should serve our kids well.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

The committee's time was NOT wasted. They vetted many curriculums, narrowed it down to three, and made a recommendation. They were not tasked with making the final decision, however. That is the Board's job.

The Board considered additional information that they felt the committee could or did not, which I know must sting of you were on the committee. But they did take their work very seriously, and chose one of the final three curriculums.

This is hardly the first committee in SPS whose recommendations were not followed 100%. In fact, that is the norm. This Board did go with a runner up curriculum that the committee vetted and put into the final round, which says that they did regard the committee work seriously, and with careful consideration. Most committee work is just ignored or tossed outright in this town.

Looking at to the bigger picture, especially with how other committee work usually fares, and I would say that the Board did value the work of the committee, did consider it carefully, and did honor the final three choices that were made. They just did not reach the exact same conclusion, for reasons that were stated in the Board meeting.

DD

Anonymous said...

I see some of this coming back down to a different discussion, one that isn't really being had. The 2001 NRC report Adding It Up came up with a list of skills (summarized here) that students should be learning in math instruction. This influenced the development of the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practices that is resulting in some really interesting curriculum and ideas about what kids need to know. The problem is that is hasn't worked for many students already and CCSS is just increasing the game stakes -- but without any public discussion.

These practices are not math and most of them have absolutely nothing to do with the way folks employ math:

Common Core Standards of Mathematical Practice

These practices are something else entirely, perhaps logic and debate, but they aren't core skills that should get in the way of a solid understanding of math.

The CCSS content emphasis is reasonable, if not a bit slow, but it is the Standards of Practice that are gumming up the works

K-2 Focus from OSPI website

I looked again through the materials from Envision and Math in Focus and Envision totally distracts from learning math. 2+2=4 because it does, not because of its relationship to something else. Tell that to an accountant that their sums are all relative.

(this is all reminding me of learning the decimal system in elementary school for the big national switch that never happened)

Ann D

Po3 said...

I don't understand why Banda would take such a risk over this board vote. Makes me think that he may have lost control and Heath and Tolley are leading the PASS waiver vote.

Either way - Banda is in trouble.

Lynn said...

Banda and Tolley and Heath and the executive directors I hope. We could afford a new middle school math curriculum then!

SK said...

"(this is all reminding me of learning the decimal system in elementary school for the big national switch that never happened)

Ann D"

I reckon you mean the "metric" system, not decimal. I'll bet we all use the decimal system every day. Heck, I even use decimal inches sometimes.

(I use the metric system almost every day, too, but I work in laboratory science.)

Anonymous said...

Yes, metric system. I was in a rush.

I use it too all the time, plus other systems of measurement. I just remember the emphasis on the switch.

Ann D

Anonymous said...

WSDWG-Yes, and our democracy is increasingly run by corporate interests and is becoming less of a democracy by the moment.

Hippy--The NRA is well funded and effective because of all of the $$$ coming in from the gun manufacturers. The tea party folks are simply the face that gets placed on the cry of "second amendment rights" Don't fool yourself that the poor tea party activists are actually driving the narrative. It's all the $$$$ from the gun manufactures selling guns to anyone and everyone who wants them, and even actively marketing pink hand guns to women to make them "safer" when it is already proven that they are not "safer" and actually more likely that their kid will kill their sibling "accidentally."

Private but wealthy interests are also driving this conversation about education and where the $$$ should be spent. There is money to be made in the technology and consultants needed to run all of these new initiatives, and when we privatize our educational system, we will no longer be a democracy.

What if these billions of $$$'s being spent on all of the educational initiatives actually just went into the schools? What if we actually just funded education (you know, school buildings, books, counselors, librarians, facilities, reasonable class size and reasonable teacher pay and professional development etc), instead of the wealthiest NOT paying the same burden of taxes like the rest of the community does? Our schools are chronically underfunded, and because the wealthiest among us are NOT paying into our community as they should be, they are taking these insane amounts of $$$'s to make even more by strategically driving the NEED for schools to adopt technology and processes which may not actually do anything other than line someone's pocket.

Representative democracy works to represent the community interests, and even in this situation where the narrative is hijacked, SPS board voted in the best interest of the community, NOT the corporate educational industry.

Your naivete of understanding what really is going on is disconcerting if you are a teacher. Public education should be public, and serve the public, not line the pockets of the already insanely wealthy.

FYI, interesting article in the Washington Post this AM about the Gates foundation spending $200 million to drive common core.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-bill-gates-pulled-off-the-swift-common-core-revolution/2014/06/07/a830e32e-ec34-11e3-9f5c-9075d5508f0a_story.html

Maybe federal standards are not a bad idea in theory, but when the whole process is driven by private interests and these same folks stand to personally make millions off of it, those are the "pack of volunteer gadflies" you should be concerned about.

civics matter

A-mom said...

9 million in tech updates plus this

gates the common core and pearson

in the washington post:
says here that gates just made a deal with pearson to have their cc curriculum loaded on to surface tablets:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-bill-gates-pulled-off-the-swift-common-core-revolution/2014/06/07/a830e32e-ec34-11e3-9f5c-9075d5508f0a_story.html?hpid=z1

equals lots of surface tablets sold to SPS

Watching said...

Elections absolutely have consequences. I think we're in the midst of watching a culture change. This board has little appetite for the district to mislead, or withhold information from this board.

We're also watching a few board members do their own research, ask hard questions etc.




Anonymous said...

Wow, I spend the weekend watching youth baseball, going to farmers' markets, and working in the yard and all hell breaks loose.

My summary comment is this: Someone needs to call a time out. People need to retreat to their respective corners and take a collective breath.

There is definitely fear and loathing in SPS at this hour. Let's put away the conspiracy theories (on both sides) and look dispassionately at the relevant and legitimate issues at play (and not the ones that the conspiracy theorists have applied to their opponents):

1. The MAC was convened to make a recommendation to the board regarding a math adoption. The MAC was a representative committee and they rolled up their sleeves, did good work, and made their recommendation. But, it was a recommendation, not the final decision. The MAC members commenting here who are offended at the final decision of the board need some perspective. You didn't get to make the final decision. Period.

2. The MAC had criteria placed upon them in vetting the materials and for making the recommendation to the board. Agree or disagree with those criteria, but they were the criteria. The board, however, was bound by no such criteria (other than adhering to state law regarding curriculum adoption). In other words, they used a different set of criteria to make their final decision. And based on these criteria, they made a decision different than the recommendation of the MAC. Period.

3. The board has the authority to adopt district math curriculum and materials. The schools also have the ability to request a waiver of those materials. What seems to be happening here is that the board made a decision that many people/educators disliked and they are availing themselves of the waiver option.

4. Could there be a legitimate reason why the district may want to fast-track the waivers? And I mean legitimate. Let's not have any half-baked theories. I'm truly asking --- if waivers are an option, could there be legitimate reasons for fast-tracking at this time. I don't know if there are, but it doesn't seem anyone on this blog is considering this question in light of the legitimate use of waivers.

5. No one's head is going to roll over any of this. So, can we stop with this? I can understand people's outrage but, seriously, no one is getting fired over this. Also, there is little the board can do to enforce its math adoption decision. There's literally no one to intercede on their behalf. If a majority of principals decide to seek a waiver of MiF, then that's what's going to happen. And if a majority of principals want EnVision, why is their professional judgment begin called into question? Do people really think they're that intimidated by downtown?

Let's all calm down and find legitimate solutions. I think the board president and the superintendent need to get together one-on-one and come up with a workable solution. They need to call the time out.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Is there a contract already with Pearson? Is that why Tolley, Heath and Banda are so hell bent on enVision?

Math in Focus was a finalist in the selection process. The board voted it in as the final choice for adoption.

Those of us who felt Everyday Math was a huge disaster could not be happier.

S parent

Charlie Mas said...

Thank you, swk, for your level-headed review.

There may be a legitimate rationale for a "fast-tracked" waiver for any of the 11 schools now using enVision who did not bother with getting a waiver before.

Those who got a waiver still have it, of course.

I don't see a legitimate rationale for any other schools seeking a waiver to use enVision. It would be impossible for them to say "The adopted materials aren't working well for our students." since they have yet to try using the adopted materials.

Anonymous said...

Charlie - I think if I was a principal of a school with similar demographics to the schools using and seeing results from enVision and my staff genuinely and unanimously believed that envision was a better curriculum for their school than MIF, I think that's a legitimate reason to consider a waiver.

SEA mom

Observer said...

"And if a majority of principals want EnVision, why is their professional judgment begin called into question? Do people really think they're that intimidated by downtown?"

Yes, I think they are being intimidated. Their direct supervisors, the Executive Directors, called them on Friday to ask them all to vote on a waiver policy.

This did not originate with the principals. It originated with downtown. And bosses called their direct reports with this request.

This part matter greatly, because the entire argument for sanctioning emergency waivers hinges on whether you think the principals are able to freely act. They were told on Friday afternoon that a decision must be made by the following Tuesday, which is not enough time to engage the stakeholders at individual schools.

The Executive Directors set up this scenario, and put an impossibly short time limit on it. Unless you can get them to back down from pressuring principals to make a decision by tomorrow, your calls for a time out are futile.

Observer

Anonymous said...

@swk: You ask: Do people really think they're that intimidated by downtown?

Answer: Yes. Unequivocally and resoundingly.

Do you honestly believe 27 or so principals ALL unanimously supported Discovery Algebra for MS in 2009, without even one dissenter? Given the topic and the already known problems with EDM and CMP?

The exceptions are trying to swallow the rule right before our eyes with this district-wide waiver stunt. People talk about the "spirit of the law." How about law and order?

Do they indeed work for us? Or do they just take our money and do as they please? (Don't answer that. We don't need to expand this thread.)

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

One thing to think about in the discussion of the schools w/current waivers is, of course, price.

If your school was seeking a waiver in 2011 from EDM, and you knew you'd have to raise the money to pay for the curriculum yourself, then price was a HUGE factor - perhaps the biggest - in choice.

So those schools might have said "of every program better than EDM, which one hits the intersection of affordability for our PTA and better instruction for our kids?"

Those schools didn't necessarily say "Envision is the best and only math program we ever want/we don't want Math in Focus" - they chose what fit their multiple constraints/needs at the time.

So DO NOT overstate the selection of envision over MiF by several early waiver schools - remember, price played a big role in waiver. And is it surprising that after ponying up their own money, going through training, and building a math program based around something better than EDM, and then seeing the insanity going on now, those schools just want to keep their heads down for a few years and keep on the path they've started? They should get to do so.

But none of that means that the choice School A made to adopt Envision two years ago or whenever should have any bearing on the curriculum for schools that have been doing EDM until now. The choice schools made in the past to adopt Envision with PTA money does not relate to whether the DISTRICT should pay for Envision NOW in lieu of a newly adopted district curriculum.

I was completely in favor of Dual-Adoption, district money for either curriculum - if the largest district in the state can't use its size to get dual adoption clout, then they need new negotiators b/c we're the buyers ... the sellers don't have the power. We have the purse. They need to sell.

BUT given the district said no, no dual adoption - they should live with that and continue the waiver process as before.

Or else go to true dual adoption, no pressure, schools can change anytime... HA!

June 10 deadline is absurd - the curriculum isn't even going to be here for the fall anyway, is it?

Signed: What Mess

Lynn said...

SEA mom,

Waiver schools can be required to return to the district-adopted materials after three years if their results don't exceed those of schools using Math in Focus. Who should be responsible for paying for the replacement materials in that case?

Just Saying said...


"Let's all calm down and find legitimate solutions. "

C'mon swk, the board has already voted on this issue, and the district argued against a dual adoption. We can't turn back the clock, and there is a deliberate attempt to disregard the board.

Just Saying said...

Besides, the district is asking principals to decide whether or not to file a waiver without ever seeing materials- and gave principals an entire few days to make a decision.

Asinine.

civics is correct. It is time for the board to assert it's authority.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Of course, there are legitimate reasons for schools to ask for waivers. But not all of them at once. Not every single school in a region. That seems planned and odd.

Charlie has the truly right idea here.

Yes, the Superintendent and Board President should get together but that's on them. I have watched this kind of nonsense before and yes, I think if it is shown this plan was there all along, someone should be exited.

We can disagree on that point but we all get our own opinion.

The Ex Dirs have no business working with the bargaining unit of any group. I'm certain that's not in their job description and I'd bet Mr. English would back me up.

Still no answer as to why a math curriculum being considered for adoption was being piloted before adoption?

Just Saying said...

Lastly, Tolley is acting odd, and I have to wonder if someone signed a contract, procured materials etc. If this is the case, it is best for the district to come clean because the truth will come out.

Linh-Co said...

@swk,

Here's a reposting from another thread. It seems the principals are taking their cues from the executive directors.

From Steven's Principal Kelley Archer, received today:

RE: New math adoption
Dear Wonderful Stevens Families;
Many principals, including myself, expressed concern over the board's decision to disregard the
designated math adoption committee's recommendation of EnVision Math for another program: Math
in Focus. The Executive Directors asked elementary principals, as a bargaining unit, to come to a
consensus on whether to file a waiver. This means that the principals' union would file a waiver on
behalf of all elementary schools in the district.
Friday Stevens staff voted unanimously to support the math adoption committee in filing a waiver, if and
only if, the waiver is filed on behalf of all elementary schools. We feel that continuity across the district
is of paramount importance as well as the validation of the hard work and time the adoption committee
put into their recommendation.
I imagine both EnVision and Math in Focus are very good programs. The math adoption committee
looked long and carefully at all the approved options. The committee was made up of parents, teachers,
district curricular experts and other community members. Stevens staff and community members went
to Douglas Truth and other libraries to give their input as well. After consideration of the programs and
input from community members, the adoption committee felt that EnVision was the best program for
Seattle students.
At this point, I do not know the results of the elementary school votes outside of Stevens and a few
schools within the Central Region. I was originally told a waiver must be filed on June 10th which gave
us very little time to get everything in place. The principals’ union is in the process of drafting a letter of
important questions that we need answers to before we can make a truly informed decision. Because of
that, union leadership is asking the district to delay ordering the Math in Focus materials until we get
the answers we need to ensure a smooth, successful transition to a new program. I will share more
information with the community as soon as I know more. Please do not hesitate to email me with your
thoughts and concerns as well.
Kelley Archer
Principal, Stevens Elementary

-Leaving Stevens

Anonymous said...

Linh-Co, I read that letter earlier. There is nothing in the letter to suggest intimidation. It does, however, raise the question as to why the fast-tracking of the waivers. The letter doesn't answer the question; however, it does not suggest intimidation.

As to the intimidation theory espoused by WSDWG et al, I'm having a hard time with this theory:

1. If downtown wanted EnVision despite the board's legitimate final decision, why the fast-track? Given the short turnaround, wouldn't schools be more apt to simply stick with the curriculum adopted by the board and paid for by the district? Conversely, wouldn't a longer turnaround provide more opportunity to influence EnVision?

2. What is the threat under this theoretical intimidation? Are the EDs threatening to fire any principal who doesn't request a waiver and ALSO request EnVision? Are the EDs threatening to cut school budgets for schools that don't toe the line on waivers and EnVision? Sorry, I don't buy these theories.

3. And even if there is intimidation, you will NEVER get anyone to admit it. EDs have no incentive to do so, nor do the principals. You might as well take this theory off the table, because you will never prove it. Even if intimidated, no principal is going to openly admit her/his impotence.

So, I'm back to wondering what the potential legitimate reasons are for the waiver fast-tracking. I'm leaning toward cost considerations, whatever those might be.

--- swk

P.S. Unless you're in the room, all of these theories are conjecture at best and are, at the end of the day, unhelpful. I agree with Melissa and Charlie that something is amiss; but, speculation and conjecture without a reasoned examination of the issues at play only diverts others' time and energy away from getting to the truth.

Angry Taxpayer said...

Taxpayers are providing Tolley and Healh with approximately a quarter of a million dollars in salary to conduct a campaign for Envision math AFTER the board has voted?!?!

Anonymous said...

If money is such a factor, then what about the potential double costs resulting from waivers? If schools go forward with a waiver, then decide three years down the road to go with MIF, won't the District be paying twice for materials?

absolute craziness

Melissa Westbrook said...

Don't worry about me SWK; I'm on this like a hawk. That I wouldn't have dreamed that staff would behave this way is another thing. I tend to believe in the good and fair in people.

I've said all along this is about money. But again, it's not the staff's to spend; that's the Board's final decision.

Want to see more chaos? Keep this up, staff, and watch what may happen when the budget needs to get approved.

Observer said...

Swk

1. the fast track is to work an end run around the Board vote before curriculum materials need to be ordered. That is transparent.

2. We do not know what they are being told, but the fact that supervisors (Exec Directors) called their direct reports en masse (the principals) on a Friday afternoon, and directed them all to consider a waiver within 3 days, in direct contradiction to a Board choice of materials, is highly suspect. There is no one who would not give great pause before going against their supervisor's wishes when a highly unusual call like this is made to all the principals. Furthermore, the Executive Directors are calling for the principal's union to get involved, which is also highly irregular (in fact, has this been done before?)

This has every appearance of intimidation, particularly since both curriculums in question were vetted by the committee and made it to the final list. One may be slightly better than the other, but there is nothing glaringly outrageous about the choice of one over the other. Something else is clearly afoot here, and each and every ES principal has to be acutely aware that going against their Executive Director's wishes in this case can possibly be dangerous.

3. This argument is just weird. Even if there is no "proof" of intimidation, it does not mean it did not and does not occur.

I agree that determining the actual reasons that Tolley and Heath want enVision, and are willing to employ such tactics to get it, should be uncovered. I seriously doubt it is just the cost to the district, since they have never gone to the mat before like this.

Observer

mathmama said...

Bless ann Dornfeld.
http://kuow.org/post/surprise-parent-victory-seattle-schools-approve-singapore-math

Anonymous said...

Maybe they think it's best for students?

Did we really land on the moon?

hippy

Anonymous said...

I am willing to believe that SPS leadership was responding to input from the schools. It is apparent from the comments that I have read here and elsewhere that many of our teachers are deeply worried about achieving the standards set out in Common Core. What their specific worries are isn't totally clear. Is it because of the Danielson a Framework of evaluations that was adopted and they worry about principals not being able to see their effective teaching strategies? Worries about having test scores affect their careers and their individual schools and students because of NCLB penalties? Concern that the Standards of Practice are not as explicitly included as part of the materials? That they don't think they can successfully differentiate using the Singapore Math approach used in Math in Focus?

I think it will be up to the District to uncover and address those concerns as part of training and implementation.

Ann D

Anonymous said...

swk -- you raise interesting, hyperbole-free (yay) questions. Here are my thoughts:

1. I agree with you that no ED or principal (until they leave the district -- at which point, they have no audience) will ever admit to being the applier (or recipient) of intimidation. And it does create a bit of a side show (since it cannot be proven, and adds an element of accusatory harshness to the debate). It is a relevant point to make though, I think, for the same reason that vote rigging claims are sometimes important (even if you cannot prove them). If, as often happens, people later point to a vote, or an ostensible consensus, as proof of something, it matters whether it was a legitimate vote/consensus, or a rigged one. I have to agree with many others that it is highly unlikely that every single high school principal in Seattle really wanted Discovery Math -- and yet, there was a unanimous vote. Given the ability of EDs to either make life difficult, or to make life easy -- it is reasonable to at least consider the possibility/likelihood that some principals felt pressured to vote the way their direct superiors wanted (or felt that the conclusion was inevitable, and so voted that way because their was nothing to be gained by being contrarian -- and possibility of something to be lost) See Hoboken, Mayor of.

2. You also note that "speculation and conjecture without a reasoned examination of the issues at play only diverts others' time and energy away from getting to the truth." I agree in part. Too much emphasis on what we will probably never be able to establish does divert time and energy. But to the extent that people believe that principals feel pressured to vote the way they think the Ed directors want them to vote -- I think it is legitimate to let them know that regardless of they vote -- we are aware of the "game" (assuming there is one). There are ways, of course, to "true up" a vote -- by making it anonymous, etc.

Jan (cont'd)

Anonymous said...

cont'd

Finally -- I tend to agree with the commenters here who downplay the importance of having one curriculum, to take care of mobility concerns, resolve equity issues, etc. I have always liked the idea of more school-level autonomy, individual schools as little laboratories of innovation and educational creativity, where groups of like-minded teachers, under strong, inspired building leadership, find creative, innovative, imaginative ways to meet their specific kids' learning styles and needs, with a minimum of push-back from on high. (I don't like to be confronted with what happens when building leadership is neither stable nor inspired, or when some schools lack the resources to fund all that creativity, while others have those resources). Hence, I was all for dual adoption, and thought we would have a fabulous opportunity over the next few years to really try BOTH curricula, see which maybe worked best for which kids and teachers, etc. etc. -- It could have been a really fascinating city-wide experiment (especially since both curricula are so much better than EDM -- so we could experiment believing that all kids had a reasonable set of materials).

As of now, I find myself immensely relieved that dual adoption did NOT pass. Given the staff's reaction to the selection of MIF, I no longer have any reasonable basis to conclude that schools wanting MIF would have been treated fairly or supported fully. We may have ended up in the perfect spot. They now have to support MIF -- because it is THE chosen curriculum. Since they evidently all really prefer envision, those schools that have (or get) envision waivers will also get the full support of downtown staff (which I no longer think would have been the case with waivers for MIF). And yes, I know. I have no proof. But if asking the principals' union to meet, on an emergency basis, to request/demand a district-wide waiver for all elementary schools to avoid MIF (together with pre-vote statements hinting that schools now using MIF would not be able to retain their waivers) isn't evidence of antipathy towards MIF as a choice, I cannot imagine what would be -- short, maybe, of a Savonarola-style burning of MIF books.

Thank heavens Mr. Banda has now resolved all this (at least for the near future).

Jan

Karma said...

The manner in which MIF got adopted was organic and resulted from board members being pushed into a corner. There was never an intention to "dupe" the district, rather adopt a program that would best meet the needs of Seattle's students.

Board testimony revealed that 2 directors put forth an amendment for a dual adoption. The district argued- vehemently- against a dual adoption. It became clear that pushing a dual adoption was problematic and decided against going down this road. Initially, directors tried for a win-win situation, but it didn't work out the way they had hoped.

Backed into a corner, the directors were forced into making a decision regarding a single adoption. Hefty decisions require time to process. We can never fully understand or appreciate the pressure in which the directors were in.

Clearly, directors put-forth compelling arguments and it was clear that they did their research, and a decision was made.


Charlie Mas said...

Okay, I'll bite.

Let's say that I'm a principal and I know of a school with demographics similar to mine which has had success with enVision and therefore I deduce that my school would also have success with enVision.

That's fine - so long as I also look at the outcomes for schools with demographics similar to mine which have been using Math in Focus.

See, this isn't a free-for-all in which principals choose a set of textbooks from a pool of choices. They actually don't have a choice. The District adopted Math in Focus, so that's what they will get. Now, if, for some reason, they don't believe that their school will be successful with Math in Focus and they have reason to believe that they will be more successful with enVision, then let's see that comparison.

They need, before anything else, a reason to believe that Math in Focus won't work before they have license to go looking for other materials. In the absence of a reason to believe that Math in Focus will not work, they have no business seeking a waiver.

Charlie Mas said...

Let me also say that I am not moved by the crocodile tears shed over the insult to the MAC.

When have any of these people ever made any similar show of outrage or taken any similar action over the District's failure/refusal to implement the recommendations of any other advisory committee?

The huffing and puffing over this lacks sincerity.

Equally lacking in sincerity is the senior staff's now forgotten boo-hooing for students who change schools (or whatever other manufactured reasons they had to demand a single adoption with minimal waivers).

Anonymous said...

@Charlie: I respect the MAC's work and I'm not going to demean or diminish it. They served their function well, but it was to "recommend" materials, not select them. Some here cannot get that through their heads, but comments from some MAC members seem quite reasonable and conciliatory toward the Board and those they disagreed with. I see more indignation from staff, board members and others on MAC members' behalf, who want to make this into a MAC vs. Board fight because it suits their agenda.

@swk: Let's agree to disagree. I think the strong-arming of calling the principals to action on the weekend, imploring them to rush into BLT meetings ASAP is patent and blatant. How else could it be characterized, when we all know damn well exactly what the intent was? Fine, call it speculation, but Good Lord, why else would that have occurred? General curiosity? Power corrupts. We've seen this movie before. WSDWG

Melissa Westbrook said...

"When have any of these people ever made any similar show of outrage or taken any similar action over the District's failure/refusal to implement the recommendations of any other advisory committee?"

Ditto.

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

No, Smith-Blum announced months before that she wasn't running. It was in the Times.

Anonymous said...

WSDWG, I think we've agreed to disagree a long time ago. My point regarding intimidation was that, as an argument, it was a loser. And even if there was intimidation, I was trying to get at WHY and to what end.

You appear to be perseverating on the intimidation (or at least your own conclusion that it definitely occurred) and I've already moved on. Go ahead and keep ringing that bell. I won't respond again.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Here, swk: From the (later) Letter from Banda to Principals Thread: (Have fun! :)

Teacher said...
Of course I'm afraid of retribution. No, I won't even tell you what region I teach in and the principal of our building is actually a "she" not a "he", that's how much I am not able to speak freely against my boss' wishes. But look at it this way, she is being coerced, too. She obviously had a directive to get some form of dissent from us. How ironic, the ones actually responsible to teach the math and this is the only time we are asked directly which curriculum we feel is the best support for our teaching. Why are teachers so little involved in this whole process? I'm the one who has to use the curriculum daily. I do want to thank the active community who brought the Board to their senses in picking MIF. I don't know what hippy is talking about--MIF is a much different curriculum than EnVision. It has much more depth, is so much more conceptual, scaffolds extremely well. EnVision does not scaffold and not conceptual enough. The reason our staff so strongly supported MIF is because they have either used it or seen it used. It is a curriculum that believes strongyl in equity for all children in class-it teaches to mastery (there, said the M word, get over it) because math is the one subject (research backs me on this) that keeps students from graduating. We have a right to ensure that all children (low-income, esp.) have equal access to education, equal access to success. This is not ancient Greece, math understanding should not be for an elite few. All children should have mastery and it is actually one subject where this is possible. It is so very teach-able given the right curriculum. EDM was a nightmare to teach and I could tell you so many stories of so many tears cried by 8 year olds in class who came to me with their hopes and beliefs only to have them dashed on the rock of "Imstupid". We need MIF--it lifts children up to not just an understanding of math but a belief in themselvs. It is by far the most equitable curriculum. Hippy, you need to look deeper--what idiocy you've just spouted. Just on another note, a teacher in our building was a little too open about her opinions about our principal and she no longer teaches--she was "let go". This has nothing to do with cowardice on my part--retribution in Seattle SD is very real.

6/10/14, 6:49 AM

That was easy enough. Movin' on. WSDWG

mirmac1 said...

And that's all s/he wrote