Saturday, June 07, 2014

Seattle Schools' Own Math War

Update:  I am at the just-about-to-start Board retreat.  I had a conversation with the Superintendent on the math adoption.  He got quite heated about it.

He says that they are fast-tracking waivers because they have to place the orders next week.  I pointed out that waivers certainly don't look to have been fast-tracked in the past.

He said that if they don't grant the waivers, they violate their own policy.  Also not true.  The district has never been in a hurry before.

He asked me why Seattle has such a conspiracy theory mentality. I said it didn't look like a theory if it's happening.

He said they don't have the money for Math in Focus.  I said I believe it could be done.  He shrugged.

So here's my take:
The Superintendent and teaching and curriculum staff regrouped after the Board meeting.  (Maybe even before).  But now their plan is to encourage/arm-twist principals into hastily convening BLT meetings in order to have staff (because not all schools have parents/community on BLTs even though that is required) say they want enVision.

Then, when they have the majority of elementaries wanting enVision, they will either go to the public (for pressure) and/or the Board and say, "What do we do? Spend money on a math curriculum that the majority of elementaries don't want?"

You can see how that would pressure the Board.  You can see that if the Times suddenly has a story on math adoption, it will be to criticize what is happening.

I think we will be able to prove some of this.  If we can, Banda may be in trouble.

Last word from District Watcher (who says it well):
Principals passionately want to use 1 of 2 math curriculums for their students, fine. Spend the money - that's what the money is for - materials and teacher development that best meet a student body's needs. But that should have been the case had EnVision been voted in and MIF relegated to 2nd. And it wouldn't have been. Hypocrisy, they name is Administration.

Truer words were never spoken.

End of update

Clearly, something is afoot over the math adoptions.  I don't know what school principals have been told but I don't believe it was just some kind of update about the outcome of the math adoption vote.  It's hard to say.

To note, I was very surprised at the Board meeting that there were 11 schools using enVision and 4 using Singapore (and what about North Beach?  I thought they used Saxon.)  Turns out that enVision was being piloted at several schools.  Why is that?  Why would the district pilot a math program that was on the table for adoption?

Here's what Lawton's principal had to say to his school community:

Math Adoption Committee Process

The School Board voted to adopt the Math in Focus curriculum, in a split and contentious vote, which was not the recommendation of the committee. A large number of elementary schools, including many in our Queen Anne/Magnolia cluster are looking to request a waiver to instead use the committee’s recommended curriculum: enVision Math.

This morning the staff met and were united in requesting a waiver to use the enVision Math curriculum. Here was the staff rationale:

  • Differentiation is stronger/more supported in Envision
  • Alignment to CCSS is strong
  • Clear connections to literacy and other topics
  • Belief in the process and the recommendation of the Math Adoption Committee
The math committee included a Lawton parent who is also a high school math teacher, Beth Orme, who has expressed openness to talking with parents and community members about the curriculums. She can be reached at

The waiver submission deadline is this Tuesday, and I would welcome the chance to hear from parents this weekend so I can share the feedback and input we receive with the staff. 

I believe schools are being told they CAN request enVision. I am baffled where the money will come from.  I also find it deeply worrying that, for years, some schools wanted a waiver and couldn't get one and now it seems that it will be quite easy.

As for Lawton's vote, I have several thoughts.

I can certainly see how teachers on the committee could feel betrayed and not heard. However that committee, by design, had other people with different backgrounds on it precisely to have fresh eyes look at these curriculums.

Lawton is saying that the dense text of enVision suits their community more than Math in Focus. However, I will once again say, when math is more about reading and writing than math - it's not math.

As for their last reasoning – fidelity to the Committee - I find that very troubling. That should NOT be a reason for any school to be granted a waiver. The SEA should issue a statement if they feel teachers have been disrespected in any way but teachers should not be rising up against the legally voted on by the Board adoption.


Anonymous said...

The SEA should issue a statement if they feel teachers have been disrespected in any way but teachers should not be rising up against the legally voted on by the Board adoption.


Teachers rose up against the legally voted on MAP test and that earned nothing but applause from you and this blog's readers.

I prefer MIF. I don't like MAP. But continuity of logic is important on when and how to Fight the Man.

SPS also suffers here because yes, it appears as though waivers will be easy for EnVision but clearly Heath wanted to shut down MIF and Schmitz Park, etc. were going to have a fight on their hands to adopt MIF had the vote gone the other way.


Anonymous said...

This sounds like absolute craziness. The justification is literacy connections?? When they talk about alignment to CCSS, are they giving undue weight to the standards of practice, and not enough weight to the actual math content? Is MIF considered less aligned because it teaches some topics earlier? If SPS wants to improve literacy, get rid of Readers and Writers Workshop and teach some actual literacy skills.


Lynn said...

If a school gets a waiver now, they'll receive the less expensive enVision textbooks (and apparently will require less professional development) - this will save money - not cost more.

I'm almost certain Fairmount Park will use enVision (I understand the principal had already requested a waiver.) Many families leaving K-5 STEM for FP are going to be bitterly disappointed to lose the opportunity to use MiF. Principals shouldn't be allowed to make these choices without overwhelming community support.

Linh-Co said...

Parents please contact your principals, PTA presidents, BLT representatives in writing that you are for Math in Focus and are against the enVision waiver TODAY. Things are going down this weeekend. We need documentation if principals are doing an end run without community input.

From Policy 2020 pertaining Waiver of Basic Instructional Materials - " Indicate how the school staff and COMMUNITY has been involved in making the recommendation to use alternative basic instructional materials, INCLUDING information on how the school-based decision matrix was used in this process and evidence that staff have agreed to implement the alternative materials fully."

Anonymous said...

We are just hearing about this through the grapevine at John Rogers. Evidently, our BLT will be meeting Monday to make a recommendation, and staff will vote Monday afternoon.

We've been using EDM at John Rogers. We have not piloted EnVision or Math in Focus. I don't understand how we could rationally apply for a waiver from Math in Focus if we have no previous experience using the materials and no evidence that EnVision would be a better fit for our kids.

This is beyond bizarre.

- JR Mom

Anonymous said...

Emergency BLT meetings are being called in elementaries right now. That what the Lawton message is about. Same with Bryant. Same with several other builds. (But yet what's the emergency?)

The Lawton's Principal letter is troubling. He wants math to have a literacy component? That statement would need to be more detailed, because one possible interpretation is that he seems to want horizontal integration in a way that obscures actual direct instruction of math. Why would anyone want to obscure math instruction to 6 year olds? Or 10 year olds? These are young children, afterall.

The waiver process was bone crushingly difficult. Now, it's a cake-walk, complete with $, provided that you pick Ms. Heath's textbook of choice?

Sedition. Pure sedition.

Tolley and Heath should be reprimanded, and Banada told by the Board that either he control his staff, or, he is fired.

This kind of 'work around' is BS.

The Board members who favored dual adoption did so so that principals could work collaboratively with their teachers and community to choose the best fit text book. Not so that principals could do what Heath thinks is best or ortherwise have their careers jeopardized. But I guess that's how dual adoption would have shaken out: pick enVision or suffer the consequences.

So now we have, what Ron English together with Heath and Tolley demanded: sole adoption. To help those mobile students!!!!! And yet, because Heath and Tolley didn't get their way, they now are doling out some kind of blanket, laissez-faire "waiver for all comers" when it comes to envision?? Will it be paid for because it is cheaper (is it??)? What about Saxon? If it is cheaper, can buildings get a waiver automatic-pass too?

Don't PTAs have to fund waivers? Unless there was grant funding? And isn't this beside the point, really, because didn't T&L say a uniform adoption was what was needed, and, just two weeks ago, they hinted that additionally they wanted the waiver policy AXED!!! Because they wanted to box everyone into the utopia of EnVision?!

This is so unprofessional and petulant and juvenile. The emergency BLT meetings are a farce, if principals have to buckle to their 'betters'.

Do NOT look at this 'chaos' and get angry at the board. This is squarely the doing of Banda and his picks Tolley and Heath. They have to own this seditious scramble. (Side note: What have they done that's been good?). Banda should, but won't, issue a 'clarfying' statement NOW, saying that MIF has been adopted, point to the policy for waivers with the consistent requirements for approval (including funding), and then order up the MIF text books for all but approved waiverors & pilotors.


Anonymous said...

FP's principal begah using enVision last year at TM. I know she greatly preferred it to EDM, and said it led to a noticeable decrease in disciplinary incidents during math times at TM. She's also a very strong principal with a strong staff and good math teachers, so my guess is that she's predisposed not to "tamper with success." Thing is, she feels about enVision the same way Schmitz Park's principal feels about MIF, but she was apparently ready to support Shauna Heath in taking that choice away from SP.

Look: We have two huge principal problems in this district that need to be addressed. The first is that they always fall in line, probably under threats from administration. The HS principals supported "unanimously" supported Discovery Algebra in 2009. How is that even possible, unless they're being ordered to support it, or else? The second is that a substantial percentage of principals in our district are simply terrible at their jobs and bounce from school to school, then to some meaningless job inside JSCEE. The bad ones are protected like "made" men in the mob, and apparently can never be fired and kicked off the public dole, ever. JSCEE has a bunch of them warming chairs in jobs we've never heard of right now. That needs to stop.

Lastly, many principals dream of moving up and will never rock the boat, hoping to be next in line for a higher position in administration, whether in Seattle or outside Seattle. They know which side their bread is buttered on, politically.

I've been lucky to have great ones at my kids' schools, but I live in a very proactive community. Despite that, however, my neighbors continue to struggle with bad principals in my neighborhood schools, which is outright maddening and depressing.


Anonymous said...

Tolley's 6/4/14 slide indicated that waivers would be funded "where appropriate." I assumed that the "appropriate"ness of the funding would be determined by the relative wealth of the school. For instance, perhaps only waivers from Title 1 schools would be funded by the district. I wish one of the Board members had questioned him on this point on Wednesday night, since it was such a huge departure from previous practice. Does anyone have any idea what Tolley meant by "where appropriate"?

It's interesting that Lawton -- a relatively wealthy / white / English-speaking school -- is justifying its waiver request for an intensely text-based math curriculum based on "connections to literacy."

As the NSAP continues to increase segregation in Seattle schools, I wonder if we may be entering a new era where the already relatively wealthy / white / English-speaking schools (eg, the Queen Anne / Magnolia cluster, where schools like Lawton have 0% transitional bilingual students) will seek waivers to use text-based math curricula that are harder for ELL students. Once those curriculum lines are drawn, might Seattle school segregation even accelerate, with white / English-speaking families open-enrolling into schools with text-heavy math, and ELL families open-enrolling into schools with a language-neutral curriculum?

--Food for Thought

Anonymous said...

RCW 28A.400.030: In addition to such other duties as a district school board shall prescribe the school district superintendent shall:

(6) Carry out all orders of the board of directors made at any regular or special meeting.


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

@FoodForThought: Before you go there, remember that Lawton was a school that blew up it's Spectrum program under the guise of fairness and equity, while the real reason is to move all kids toward the middle as CCSS would do. Whenever I hear equity and fairness as rationales, I always look for and find one-size-fits-all driving it.

What WE want is what works best for each any group and the Board wanted that to. Before we jump into the race & class ditch, remember that MIF is showing great results with every group and sub-group in many places, and is especially best for kids struggling at lower levels.

Yes, richer schools have a knack for getting more of what they want. Money is power, after all. And yes, that's inequitable.

But let's not get sidetracked and distracted already from the issues at hand.


Anonymous said...

From what I understand, Monday's BLT meeting at John Rogers falls into the "emergency" category. The BLT had its regular June meeting earlier this week.

I'm pretty well-connected at the school, and I haven't heard of any staff or community members crying foul over the math adoption and demanding that we apply for a waiver. I don't think the call for an emergency BLT meeting and staff vote came from the school community. I'm pretty sure it came from above.

We have a brand-new, first-year principal at John Rogers. It is a shame that she is having to deal with District politics like this, instead of focusing on how to best serve our kids.

- JR Mom

Anonymous said...

Waivers must be reviewed by 1. The district ed director, then 2. The assistant SI, then finally, 3. The SI. Since it's always taken months or years to get a waiver, how can they possibly process these in 3 days?

Total fraud.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Sidelines, the MAP was not voted on by the Board (not that I recall). MAP was an assessment that was chosen by the superintendent. But yes, I can see your point.

Anonymous said...

Waiver Policy 2020 also states, "A waiver request must be completed by a Principal of the school and submitted to the Executive Director of Schools (EDS) or equivalent position. The EDS shall review the request and make a recommendation to the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning. The Assistant Superintendent shall review the request and the recommendation of the EDS and make recommendation to the Superintendent. The Superintendent shall review all materials and make a decision on the request. If denied, the school principal may appeal the decision to the School Board."

So the buck stops with the Superintendent. Others make recommendations, but the final decision is with the Superintendent. Appeals go to the School Board.


Anonymous said...

Can't wait to read this fury of e-mails. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

fury? Meant "flurry." WSDWG

Anonymous said...

When my kid was at Lawton, the very vocal teacher who led the charge to change Spectrum assured me that EDM was great and that parents who questioned that curriculum didn't have anything to worry about. Fortunately, I was still skeptical and took math into my own hands at home. Kid thrived. I know another family who was told their kid didn't belong in Spectrum due to average math performance (same teacher). They did Singapore at home and kid scored 100% on ISEE math 1.5 years later.

My experience (3 schools now) is that principals do what they please and pride themselves on being impervious to parent (and sometimes staff) input. Sometimes a good thing, no doubt, but a bit frustrating when the parent actually has a legitimate concern.

Good Luck

Anonymous said...

Apologies for the naive questions, but does anyone have a list of the criteria for determining approval of a waiver? I am specifically curious about the role that mobility is supposed to play in the waiver approval process.

Per Michael Tolley's slide presentation at the Board meeting on 6/4/14:

"WAIVERS: Other requirements must be met and Executive Directors may disapprove a waiver if its use would conflict with overall regional considerations, such as high mobility in certain areas."

Given that mobility is higher in schools that are less wealthy / white / English-speaking, does this mean that the district's waiver approval process (apart from funding considerations) is inherently biased toward schools that are wealthy / white / English-speaking? Again, apologies for the naive questioning here, but if so, is that legally and district-policy-wise OK?

I know that there are immediate concerns about what's going on this weekend, but I wonder if this point of inequity should be considered. Wednesday was the first time that I had heard the district speak of mobility as a waiver approval consideration.

I don't have any mobility data on hand, but commenter Joan S. did a survey recently --

Post in which the following comment from Joan S. appears:

Anonymous said...

Here is a subset of mobility data for seattle public schools. This data is troublesome to look up, and is found on CSIPS. I have not prepared an exhaustive list, but at least it gives you some idea of the mobility rate in SPS. I have not found a definition of mobility, but I suspect it is the percent of students that joined the school after the fall. I don't think it includes the percent of students that leave the school after enrolliing in fall (this is appropriate).

Only some of the CSIPS give mobility data. If you see a question mark, that is because the CSIP for the schol was located, but did not provide the mobility number. In many cases, this is probably because the school is low poverty and has a negligible mobility rate.
Mobility rate is given for 2012-2013 school year, unless otherwise noted. I believe Dunlap school has a Bilingual Orientation Center, which might account for the high mobility rate at that school.

Dunlap 21
Bailey-Gatzaert 13
Roxhill 17
Layfayett ?
Olympic Hills ?
Sandpoint ?
Northgate 19
Beacon Hill 6
Schmitz Park 12-13 6
Bryant 12-13 7
Schmitz Park 09-10 3

Joan S.

6/3/14, 10:40 PM

--Food for Thought

Anonymous said...

Anyone think that if Heath is further stymied by activists over this rushed process of sudden math waivers to incorporate EnVision next year that she will take her toys and go home - to another district? On a Triple Crown betting weekend seems a good wager. Let's see.

And the entertaining but rotten for kids sideshow that is JSCEE administration keeps rollin'.

This isn't that hard. If principals passionately want to use 1 of 2 math curriculums for their students, fine. Spend the money - that's what the money is for - materials and teacher development that best meet a student body's needs. But that should have been the case had EnVision been voted in and MIF relegated to 2nd. And it wouldn't have been. Hypocrisy, they name is Administration.


Anonymous said...


Could someone who is well versed/has them close at hand post the links to all the data/districts that use MIF and the results?

Our school (and I'm sure others) are considering this waiver now/this weekend. As a parent leader, I'd like to get this into the principal's hands as soon as possible.

(We have already contacted our School board rep - one of the fantastic four).

thank you!

QA Parent

Carry On said...

Last check, Queen Anne Elementary did not house an exceptionally high level of ELL students.

What works in Queen Anne will not work in other schools.

The board was also correct in saying that Common Core will not be around forever. South Carolina and Oklahoma have recently dropped CC.

Anonymous said...

I believe QAE is a school that is piloting EnVision, or at least has the materials. If you attend that school you might want to provide your thoughts to the principal or your child's teacher soon.


Linh-Co said...

Repost from another thread:

Craig Parsley said...

I read all the waiver documents posted. I see applications from Schmitz, K5 STEM, Loyal Heights, Montlake, McDonald, and Sanislo.

Of those, only two waivers were granted:

Schmitz Park was granted a waiver under the former Principal Richard Mellish as confirmed by Carla Santorno and K5 STEM was granted a waiver a week ago via email from Ms. Heath.

All other documents are applications. This confirms what I have heard many times. That is, many schools applied after purchasing the materials with PTA funds, but waivers were not granted. Does anyone out there know of other schools that have confirmation letters granting a waiver "in-hand," not just a rumored one or verbal agreement?

As to Schmitz Park being funded. That never happened due to the lack of residual EDM funds in the fifth year of the program's cycle. The promise was made, but never funded. This is because the fifth year of EDM consumables was free to the District as a perk, thus the consumables budget was zeroed out that year leaving no funds for the District to pay for Schmitz Park's consumables. K5 STEM tried to get in on this action, but we were told the same thing. We checked again this year and were told there are no funds available for K5 STEM.

Where are the waiver applications for the "eleven" enVision Schools? Only Montlake has a waiver "request" for those materials. Were the other ten pilot schools?

One more item of note: Schmitz Park was granted a waiver from EDM because it had several years with the program and its PTA had made a significant financial investment in the program prior to the EDM adoption. This was a factor in the granting of the waiver. I was at the meeting with Carla Santorno when she gave Schmitz the verbal okay prior to formal written confirmation. Four District staff (including Carla) sat in on my math class to observe Singapore math that day, before granting the verbal approval. It was a tense scrutiny of every detail of the lesson. But is was worth it. It was a day the students ran the lesson and performed a slam dunk on content and behavior. Carla asked me to come work for the District after that observation to implement the Singapore Math portion of the EDM adoption. I declined then.

In retrospect, I should have taken the job.

Craig Parsley

Linh-Co said...

@ QA Parent,

I hope this helps. Here's a thread from our friend, Meg of Highline SD:

At Highline District board meeting Wednesday night a PPT was presented about our changing assessments. A review of this year's growth was part of the presentation. Because Highline piloted the SBAC we will not see any data in August. So, the MAP scores is all we will see to indicate how are students are doing.

I took notes, then had my notes verified by the presenter, Dr Alan Spicciati. The irony of the whole evening was I was reading the blog about the SPS math adoption at the same time. This information would have only enforced the decision to go with MIF.

I have no other data to compare these numbers. So really, it is just as said. A couple of notes to remember when you look at the results : HSD moving to a dual language model. Only some of our schools are dual language and teach Math in Spanish. These classes are not as strong as the English only. Also, this is the first year HSD is using Course 1, the MIF replacement to CMP. Course 2 and 3 is being piloted is select classes this year.$file/Student%20Growth%20Board%20Presentation%20June%204%202014.pdf

And here is my conversation with Alan.


Yes, that's what I said. You were paying attention! :-)

We were seeing growth on MAP in math exceeding national norms a few years ago and people thought "hmm", since our state test scores were low. And when the state test scores came back, we saw it on the tests. I recall Paul doing a presentation in public comment to the board showing Highline's progress on the MSP. I have had similar findings. In 2011 and 2012, we made huge gains on the math MSP.

Angus let a study that came up with six factors of building an excellent math system. I can't remember them all, but curriculum, PD, assessments, and interventions were all big ones. Math in Focus was our curriculum move. We've done a lot of PD. We put in place math benchmark assessments aligned to standards that gave teachers important feedback on what students didn't understand (distractor analysis). And we added adaptive software programs that helped with practice and interventions.

The convergence of our math strategies has been most successful in the late elementary grades. We made up a 17 point deficit from the state average in 6th grade and actually have beaten the state two years in a row. That is pretty significant considering the poverty and number of English language learners in Highline.

I would love to say we have seen the same in reading, but we have not. I would characterize our results in reading over the same period as flat. It is difficult to know how much of that to attribute to language acquisition, as 22% of our students are in the ELL program, but at least as many have a language other than English spoken in the home. At any rate, these are deserving kids and we have to figure out how to do better. I was inspired by the young lady who received a STIA scholarship last night, who spoke 20 words of English four years ago. We can do better in literacy.


Here's the summary from Highline's presentation:

- a 4 year run of solid student growth. This is attributed to PD, tech resources and new curriculum

- exceed national growth, especially in the elementary grades

- staying even nationwide with middle school

- closing ground and approaching state averages in student growth
6/6/14, 10:57 AM

Anonymous said...

Math war? It's an everything war!

This district needs a change in leadership NOW!

Banda needs to go along with Tolley and English.

The board needs to be paid and run the school district day to day decisions.

Perhaps it's time for Seattle school district #2 to be created?


Linh-Co said...

There is no growth in Highline SD in middle schools because they are using CMP2. They just started rolling out Math in Focus in 6th grade this year.

Melissa Westbrook said...

At Board retreat, speaking of later starts, staff says district needs to have "integrity and credibility."

Anonymous said...

This is going to get ugly quick.

Let's not miss that SPS legal was the point man on a roadblock of dual adoption because of its interpretation of process which in the end was just that - interpretation. A different interpretation or more important a proactive search for a way forward for both sides of this issue, and maybe we wouldn't be where we are on this sunny Saturday.


Furious said...

This is direct insubordination. Obviously Banda and his senior staff are not willing to follow their elected board. They can turn in their resignations now.

Anonymous said...

On what basis would schools justify a waiver and would the Superintendent approve? MIF is a solid math program. I can understand schools currently using enVision not wanting to start over with a new program, but even then, is that enough to justify a waiver?

I also don't consider a weekend email sufficient parent notice to provide meaningful or adequate input.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Confused, the Superintendent, in our conversation, seemed to think they could just fast-track the waivers. I think that as long as BLTs check off certain necessary-to-the-policy boxes, it will be okayed.

He seemed completely unconcerned about parent/community input.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the board meeting is starting with "integrity and credibility" message from staff. So let's bring it back to the math waivers.

Fine, fast track the EnVision waivers. But note that the speed at which the district moves on this, and the waiver criteria it chooses to incorporate or not (suddenly mobility of poor students seems not too important if schools deviate from MIF) will now be a matter of public record and of district process.

If a school/parent body wants a waiver - a funded materials waiver - in other areas such as language arts or science in the coming years, the staff best not drag its feet until it's too late to order. It best fund that waiver. And it best not use internal adoption matrices (such as affect on mobility) that are now being set aside for hasty EnVision waivers to dismiss other subjects' materials waivers.

That would not only be a lack of "integrity and credibility" but also grounds laid for materials adoption waiver lawsuits.

We've got middle school math, language arts and other areas soon up for review. The way staff acts this weekend will set waiver expectations for all of the above.


Anonymous said...

Waaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiit a minute. Banda says we don't have the $$ for MIF? Too bad. If we don't have $$ for math materials, then that's a reason to deny EnVision waivers. MIF is the approved curriculum as of last week. It needs to be fully funded. If schools want to use EnVision whatever. But after MIF is fully funded for teacher development and materials.


Anonymous said...

What are the Board's options when the Superintendent commits an act of insubordination?

I am stunned by this. Not that a waiver policy is being fast tracked, but that it is being done district wide over the weekend with emergency BLT meetings. This is so flagrantly counter to the Board choice of materials, and principals are so clearly being strong armed into this, that Banda is sending a clear signal to the Board that he will not abide by their policies.

I strongly suspect that English and Heath are behind this as well. If all this is actually true, there needs to be an emergency Board meeting, and a large, and I mean large, number of people need to be summarily fired.

Open refusal by the Superintendent to support Board policy cannot be allowed to pass without direct and immediate response.


Anonymous said...

Classic SPS Cluster.


Sorry not to have words of wisdom. Posted to have bonding time with blog stalwarts who thought they had 'seen it all'... until this.

North of 85th

Melissa Westbrook said...

MIF mom, excellent point. But my spidey sense says they want to poll schools (via BLTs) and be able to say, "see the majority want enVision. What should we do?" to the Board.

I think that answer is MIF mom's answer - fund MIF first.

The Board can quietly tell him to back off this idea.

The Board could meet in Executive Session and talk to him.

They could fire him (but I'd think that is if they have direct proof of what appears to be happening).

Hey, look at that district calendar! There's an Executive Session. Next week. On the Superintendent's evaluation.

Po3 said...

Another rigged math adoption.

Great, just great.

mirmac1 said...

I'm glad Banda's evaluation is coming up this week. 'nuff said.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Even though there is no talk (yet) at the Board retreat about the math adoption , there it is on the T&L priorities list as "high". It is also listed as "green" as "on track, expected achievement of milestones, no foreseen issues."

To note, ALL Sped issues are high along with WSS, Common Core, creation of a MOOC for ELL (this is labelled "complete" - the only one and why this was high priority, I don't know) and math adoption.

Anonymous said...

This thread is its own little echo chamber. Vast majority of parents in SPS don't give a - about K5 math materials or the adoption process.

Banda won't get fired over it. Not enough citywide interest. This isn't fiscal corruption, which would get him fired. Plus, the MIF vote board members are his core supporters on the board, I think.

We'll just end up spending more on math materials for both Envision and MIF, cutting some other academic area - anyone see that APP has already been mentioned? - and carry on.


Anonymous said...

"Vast majority of parents in SPS don't give a - about K5 math materials or the adoption process."

You wrote it, now prove it, Sidelines.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Parents want their children to have great math and reading/writing materials. Whether they themselves are involved in the choice is another question. But when they see their own children struggle (and between the word-laden enVision and Common Core - many children will visibly and painfully struggle) - they will care.

Anonymous said...

@Sidelines: I suspect your "vast majority" of slacker parents you say don't care, are comprised of the same "silent majority" Sundquist used to cite who secretly supported his agenda.

McLaren dispelled that fanciful notion by thumping him in his own back yard. But hey, maybe you're right: Who cares about math besides the people on this blog, right?


Anonymous said...

I teach at a school unofficially using enVision materials. We contacted enVision Last year and asked to use the materials and they provided them happily. We made the request because absolutely anything was better than one more year of EDM. I am so happy that the board has adopted Mif. Envision was better than EDM but still awful! - ABC

Melissa Westbrook said...

At Board retreat, a HUGE list of staff "priorities" and long faces over workload.

If you saw the list, you'd be worried and upset, too.

But as I look at this list, I don't see a lot of direct classroom intervention. It is VERY district adm heavy.

Crushing to me: Indian Heritage listed as a "low" priority by Teaching & Learning.

Later bell times? I doubt it given how the staff has linked it to its impacts on so many other programs. I believe some of it, I think some of it is clearly overstated.

Priorities, kids.

Anonymous said...

@ABC: I'm curious about the demographic of your school. Diversity, FRL, etc. If you don't want to reveal your school, can you cite some peer schools that are similar?

Point being, any school with more support, financial or parental, can probably accommodate EnVision and supplement it where needed. Kids more challenged by math, historically in SPS, probably need MIF a lot more than others with the means to adapt and supplement.

Would you agree with that thought, btw?


Anonymous said...

Oh, good grief. The majority of students are not going to "painfully struggle with word-laden enVision". The vast majority of enVision work is straight computational practice. Yes, there is usually a problem at the end of the sheet that asks the student to explain their answer/reasoning. There is plenty of evidence that this is an important skill to nurture, but it's hardly the main focus of enVision. I'm happy we're moving to MIF, but that doesn't require us to act like enVision is so awful and terrible and completely unsuitable. It's light years better than EDM and there seem to be schools that are using enVision, liking it, and seeing gains.

Enough Hyperbole

Anonymous said...

@EH: You're probably right, but the issue today is democracy and the proper respect for it within the SPS community and Admin. It's not so much the choice of materials at this point, but who ultimately gets to make it.

I get your point, but singling out one comment and calling it "hyperbole" is anecdotal parsing and misrepresents the issue.

Yes, it's premature to call for people's heads, and only a few have done so. But disregarding the Board's call to such a degree as this is very serious and future precedent is being set right here, right now.


Anonymous said...

I want to thank all who are chiming in today, and especially MW, as it's no doubt displacing more enjoyable options on such a nice day.

But this is really important for people to weigh in on, no matter what their opinions and priorities are.

As I said before, this matter is precedent-setting for the next several years, if not decades, and we really owe it to ourselves and future SPS parents we'll be supporting through levies long after our kids are gone from SPS, to get this right, procedurally and ethically.

For those of us who wish to stick around Seattle, this might be for our kids' kids. Pro, con or indifferent, let's be heard.


Melissa Westbrook said...

EH, well, I'm going off what MAC says and what the principal of Lawton have said about it. I don't think enVision is terrible.

Again, how did enVision come to be in so many schools? It's an odd thing.

Anonymous said...

MW said "Again, how did enVision come to be in so many schools? It's an odd thing."
Why are so they so invested in getting Envision as the new curriculum that staff (from Banda down) are prepared to override boards vote and circumvent their own processes and policies.
Wouldn't be the first time there have been allegations of impropriety, improper relationships with vendors, non-disclosure, and such in this district.

Follow the money…….

Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

I want to know if Banda and/or District officials are calling around and strong arming principals into taking emergency action over the weekend.

That is deeply unsettling to me, because this is and will be spun as buildings wanting to tailor their own curriculum. If prinicipals are being pressured into it then they are not independent actors here.

It will be our Superintendent plus a few well paid district administrators and both manipulating their employees and blatantly ignoring the Board's policies. This should trouble everyone, regardless of how you feel about the choice of math curriculum.


Anonymous said...

Our school is about 35% FRL. For the record I am a huge proponent of inquiry-based math instruction. However the EnVision curriculum in my opinion is poorly done. I would prefer to have a clear well-done curriculum to draw from then to sift through the confusion of EnVision. Somehow envision has managed to make even math fluency practice text heavy. Nobody needs that!-ABC

Anonymous said...

Mayor should take over the district and end this longstanding dysfunction and mismanagement for once and for all. It's not just the math.

Just sayin'

Mayoral Control?? said...

The mayor?? You mean the same mayor that pushed through the tunnel project which is now costing taxpayers in the hundreds of millions in over-costs??

The same mayor that allowed a PAC to use victim of violence as pawns in a political game? The same mayor that did not denounce the action of those individuals?

If you want to talk dysfunction; you can look the mayor and Nick Hanauer smack in the face.

Anonymous said...

Lincoln supposedly has a waiver for My Math. The talk had been that they are in year one of a 3 year waiver this year and so need not worry about MIF or Envision. Why is there no waiver application in the public disclosure materials for Lincoln? If it's still pending, will that application be fast tracked as well or does that only happen if the application is for Envision? Seems like there has been some secret unofficial waiver process going on at quite a few schools.

-No Transparency

Game On said...

This is a fight worth having. If Banda and his staff are trying to do end-runs around the board, he needs to be dealt with.

Anonymous said...

@Just Sayin': There's a lot you say I like, but Mayoral Control is and absolutely terrible idea. Terrible, terrible, terrible. (So watch the Times Ed Board call for it.)

Mayoral Control is the absolute LAST thing we need. If you support that then it's "Goodbye Community Input" once and for all, except by an election every 4 years when Education concerns pale in competition with the economy, policing, crime, building development, and transportation, which in Seattle means SNOW STORMS!! Do not forget that it was snow storms took down Nickels in the primary, and you never know what you're going to get when that happens.

While I certainly understand the frustration, BEWARE SILVER BULLET solutions. Obviously you haven't studied the issue, but please purge such thoughts quickly and completely.

Folks: This is the first Board vote that favored the wider community in years. It's the first major vote of consequence since breaking the stranglehold of the Gang of Four. This board has barely removed its training wheels, but has shown a fortitude unseen in SPS in over a decade.

The Board did it's job well, and will see this matter through to the end. I know the majority of this board well enough to know they understand why they were elected and how important this is to get right.


Anonymous said...

I don't know why, but I just can't leave a "d" off "an" sometimes. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

OK, i get it, mayoral take over = bad idea. It's just my frustration with this district, that never does anything right, getting the better of me. I just wish we could do something! Now, when it looks like we finally have a board that might stand up to some of this nonsense they are pulling this sort of stunt.

Ok, how bout instead we write/email everyone- the board, Banda, our PTA presidents, principals, ombudsman, media…..
-let them know what is going on
-let them know that we know what they are trying to do
-demand answers
-let them know we will not stand for it
-keep the pressure on

It's not just about the math.
This district is supposed to work for us (the taxpayers of Seattle) and with our (our children's) best interests in mind- when will they start acting like it?

Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Even though Lincoln is using My Math currently, I heard from a parent that had apparently spoken to the principal that they would use Envision if the district adopted it. Just word of mouth, remember.
But makes me worry. I would be happy if we switched to MIF, but not at all happy if the Lincoln principal or BLT sought a waiver to use Envision. We trialled it there last year, staff did not prefer it, our family did not prefer it (students hated it) and I do not see what support there would be for it there. There would certainly have not been any community engagement over the issue.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh Just Sayin', there you go with those conspiracy therories that Banda doesn't like. (But again, yes, always follow the money. And, double-tap any zombies.)

I will have to write about the Board retreat (interesting and troubling things said and you can kiss later start times goodbye given the tsunami of reasons that staff can't do it). But I am going to start the thread with a statement and fill in details later.

(Then I'm going to Home Depot.)

Anonymous said...

I think fidelity to CCSS is really what's driving all of this. I don't think it's principals saying EnVision is better, but that it's "easier" for everyone if it tracks CCSS the most. Outcomes rank lower, unfortunately.

I can at least understand that rationale, even though it's a surrender to and embrace of one-size-fits-all, focus-on-the-middle strategies.

For inside-the-box thinkers, which all this standardization & data collection creates, I can understand the simple logic of going with something that puts "all the eggs in one box" as director Peters said.

But is putting our eggs all in one box even a good idea from the start?

Questions like that aren't asked, or even thought of, by those inside the box.

I think that's what we're seeing play out here. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

2:00 p.m. Saturday. I really need to get a life.

Thought mine had improved after Wednesday's vote, but the locusts are back. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Ah, Home Depot MW....

A place I used to go, which has now become part of that weird dream we all have about that math or science class we totally forgot about all semester long, but have a final exam in a few days away. We'd not only completely forgotten about the class, but the wing of the school it was in, who taught it, etc. And now we have a final in two days!!!

Then riiiinnnnnggggg goes the alarm and we realize it was all a dream. That's what going to "Home Depot" has been like for awhile now. Did I used to go there and work in my garden on nice days? Seems like it. Or was it all a dream? Like that math class I'd totally forgotten about....


Anonymous said...

I am so frustrated. MIF was approved by the Board, why aren't we using it?? Sore losers. There is pressure now at elementary schools, at least in the north end, to meet quickly and turn in a waiver. Why even bother having any committee or Board, if Heath and her cronies are just going to decide what it should be? It seems to me that Heath and her group decided what curriculum they wanted, facilitated the MAC to get it, and when the board chose MIF, they then decided to pressure schools to ask for waivers...which it appears they are planning on handing out at a rapid rate. How frustrating!!

Carol Simmons said...

Melissa and Everyone

Melissa posted that at the Board Retreat, Indian Heritage is listed as "low priority" Teaching and learning.
Does anyone know how priorities are established?
And does anyone know who the Teaching and Learning committee members are?
Thank you


Lynn said...


The Curriculum and Learning Committee oversees Teaching and Learning - Marty McLaren, Sue Peters and Stephan Blanford. Head staff member is Michael Tolley.

Charlie Mas said...

What do I mean when I write about the District's culture of lawlessness?

Schools independently choose their instructional materials. They don't bother with the waiver process. Why should they? It is a lot of work, it takes a lot of time, and it introduces the risk of denial. Better to just use the books you want to use without asking permission. There are no consequences for it - even if you get "caught", but you're not going to get caught because there's no one to catch you. That's the culture of lawlessness at work.

The superintendent and his staff can shortcut the waiver process for favored alternatives. Why should they follow the policy? It will just take more time and effort. No one will enforce it, so why bother to follow it? That's the culture of lawlessness at work.

Here's one more example: Each year the Board sets their annual priorities at their fall retreat. And each year the superintendent and the staff solemnly sweat to complete the task. But each year the work goes unattended - not just unfinished, but un-started. There are no consequences. Each year the Board and the staff pretend that the priorities are important and the progress is being made. That's the culture of lawlessness as well.

Just about everything in this blog post screams culture of lawlessness.

Anonymous said...

Jose: You're making the case for more micro-management, not less. If you can't or won't do your jobs, the Board will step in and do it for you.


Anonymous said...

Had an opportunity to chat with Mr. Tolley after the retreat quickly about my concerns on how the waivers may be handled, and rumors about undue pressure on schools and principals to request waivers, and the potential end run around Board policy and that if so, that would be arbitrary and caprious.

"Can't help what people say"' "no pressure" "the Board made it clear they were both good curricula on Weds night and in effect, yes it is a dual adoption" "needs to be fast tracked because of June 10th ordering texts deadline". No time to discuss further.

Waivers will be added to Monday's curriculum and. Instruction meeting at end of agenda - probably to come. Up at 6 pm.

Have more thoughts on the retreat, but Ned time to process my thoughts and share.


Anonymous said...

Pardon typos, IPad.


Anonymous said...

Me thinks Mr Tolley should be excited for insubordination. We don't need his kind around here.

Ann D

Anonymous said...

Exited not excited.

Ann D

Anonymous said...


Tolley said in effect, dual adoption?? WTF? It was not a dual adoption. That's the point. So, waivers were a Herculean lift, before, when you wanted Saxon or Singapore to escape EDM, but, now that their favored choice, did NOT get adopted, it is an effective dual adoption??? Aarghhh.

This is about process, and really, it is about kids learning math. The boards process was legal AND REASONABLE, because they were told it would be illegal to do a dual adoption. So, SPS has only 1 adopted text, and that's MIF. Anyone wanting anything else, even if it is the highly regarded enVision, needs to do a real waiver process, just like their waiver brethren before them, otherwise the whole thing is nothing more than a banana republic district.

Mr. Tolley, WE DO NOT HAVE A DUAL APODTION, because Mr. English strong-armed the board. Perhaps that was done to railroad the board into Mr. Trolley's preference, or maybe because it was thought to be true, but regardless, the board acted according to Mr. English and went for sole adoption, and they choose MIF!!! So, deal with it.

I have no problem with a school seeking a waiver for enVision - have at it. I have a massive problem with a kangaroo court (every waiver for our favorite passed in 48hrs. despite other building's waivers taking years + painstaking work!) and a banana republic (elected officials legislating and then the civil service setting aside those legal mandates). Which is what this has been reduced to.


Anonymous said...

Won't the prices for both products change if we're only buying half as much from each vendor? District staff may be wrongly assuming they will save money if a ton of schools seek waivers.

--Faulty assumptions

Anonymous said...

It has nothing to do with saving money. It is all about if you don't pick the math program I want than I am going to take my bat and ball and go home (or apply for a waiver as the case may be). Don't the principals/district get that one of the reason people elected new board members was because they wanted a change in math curriculum. Instead of doing an end run, I think they should be paying attention to what the community is saying. EVEN, with a new board being elected, the district still does not want to listen/involve parents. Amazing!

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

Ann D - I thought you meant 'executed'
; )


Carol Simmons said...

Thank you for that information. It is so difficult for me to believe that Directors McLaren and Peters would list Indian Heritage as a low priority.

I am not only concerned about listing of priorities,but also the Special Education Policy Recommendations.

Why do we continue to punish, exclude, restrain, and marginalize certain groups of students as well as attempt to adopt instructional materials that are not good for all learners. If the Board had not been paying attention, Envision Math would have been adopted.

Now the Board needs to pay attention to and carefully study the Introduction Items and the recommendations which were presented.
I hope that everyone will watch the entire Board meeting. There are so many items and recommendations that affect underserved students. These recommendations need to be carefully studied and addressed.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Carol, the level of priority is STAFF's, not the Board's.

Mr. Wright mentioned the need to get Sped issues addressed and it is high on the list (but about time, no?).

Carol Simmons said...

Thank you. I thought this might be the case and that staff members prioritize the items.

Do you or anyone know of a way that I can find out who the staff members are that listed Indian Heritage as a low priority?

Yes, it is about time that Special Ed is addressed. The Special Ed.Policy Recommendations in the Introduction items were out of a horror film. Restraints whether soft or hard, isolation or time out rooms with doors or not? It was noted that the Director did say that positive approaches should be used.

It is unbelievable that the Special Ed department does not know which schools have time out/isolation rooms. Ask the Principals.

As a Principal at Garfield, Cleveland, and West Seattle and as a teacher and counselor at Nathan Hale, Ingraham and Queen Anne...I knew every room in the building. We did not have time out rooms. If a student was confined to a wheel chair, he/she was not Instructional assistant or often the Teacher sat with him/her at lunch in the Principal's office. They had a good time. This is what a special ed teacher did many times at Nathan Hale.


Disgusted said...

The board never voted on a dual adoption. The amendment for a dual adoption was removed from the agenda because the district provided many arguments against a dual adoption.

In essence, the board never had the opportunity to vote for a dual adoption.

Anonymous said...

JS here. I have been out the entire day, so couldn't chime in earlier.

There have been comments and questions about the waivers disclosure. I quoted my disclosure request in the posting to this blog yesterday. You
have to read the request to understand how to interpret the files. From the questions/comments, it appears some folks did not read the quoted request.

Please note that the purpose of my request was to get information about so called "exception" schools: schools which enjoyed funding from district to pay for their waiver materials.

You will notice that most of the questions in my request were not answered.

I asked, for example, what were the criteria used to decide which schools would get waiver materials paid for by district; and were the criteria applied uniformly and equitably.

The PDO found no documents to answer these questions. Evidently this me3ans that there were no criteria: Staff just did whatever they felt like.

So all of a sudden staff has a criterion, it being thus: If you ask for EnVision your waiver materials will be paid for.

Did anyone notice the following irregularity in the waivers for exceptions schools? Most schools answered the same four questions in their waiver applications. These four questions relate to the waiver policy.

The one exception school that sought EnVision Math did not have to answer any of these questions. They got their waiver approved anyway.

I was surprised to hear from Craig Parsely that not all of these schools got funded waivers, since I specifically asked for information on all schools that got funded waivers.

I will have send in to Julie (the PDS) some follow-up questions, based on Craig's comments, and also try to get explicit responses to my unanaswered questions.


Anonymous said...

Please make sure to contact not only your principal, but also the Board, to let them know which curriculum you want your bldg. to use.

If the Board finds parents do not support their principal's choice, then the Board can on this basis overturn any waiver that ends up getting approved by staff. Why? Waiver policy requires community support. Lack of support evidenced by emails means waiver policy requirements not met.

So it's very important for parents to write before Tuesday to their principal, and equally important to CC the Board.


Anonymous said...

Does funding for waiver materials include professional development? So if my school chooses EnVision will teachers get SPS-paid-for training? Thanks.


Anonymous said...

One thing I'm hearing from parents and teachers who are familiar with EnVision is that it is fairly tech-heavy (more so than MIF). Shoreline uses EnVision, but I've heard Shoreline has much more technology in the classroom than SPS schools (lap tops for every kid, etc...).

I'm wondering how much EnVision would cost the district in the long-run, if they have to beef up the technology at all schools?

- JR Mom

Anonymous said...

Looking for reviews of enVision, several references were made to a video or technology component of enVision. What is a typical lesson?

slideshow of envision in classroom

Anonymous said...

enVision promotional video

Is SPS adopting a print or print/digital hybrid version of enVision?

more confused

Anonymous said...

3rd grade enVision lesson

more confused

Anonymous said...

@more confused

"Is SPS adopting a print or print/digital hybrid version of enVision?"

Last I heard, Math in Focus was still the official adoption???

- JR Mom

Anonymous said...

So right. What should have been written:

When recommended and priced, was the enVision program to be delivered in print, or print/digital hybrid? If schools choose a waiver to use enVision, instead of the adopted MIF, what will they be getting? What would be funded by the District?

...going for more coffee.

more confused

Anonymous said...

Now for Math in Focus:

Math in Focus (for teachers)

Math in Focus Lesson overview

Melissa Westbrook said...

Carol, I don't know in specific who put Indian Heritage as a low priority but it was in Teaching and Learning so that would be Shauna Heath and Michael Tolley.

So costs...who knows? I mean seriously, at this point, the math adoption is a mess.

I can add to the list of questions I will ask about professional development for enVision, etc.

Melissa Westbrook said...

What's interesting is my perception is that this is 90% of money. Not that either math is necessarily better than the other (that may be true from parents and teachers viewpoint but I'm speaking here of staff).

Cabinet staff simply do NOT want to find the $3M extra for MIF. That certainly was the reaction I got from the Superintendent yesterday.

What if their ploy is wrong? What if some brave principals say, "No, we want MIF." What if it's 50-50 and now the district has to fund both?

Anonymous said...

Is there any chance that the district, or someone in the district had already made a commitment to Pearson, regarding the EnVision product prior to the vote last week. They thought it was a done deal right?
So, now in order to save face, or a avoid breach of contract type situation they need to get as many schools on board with EnVision as they can (or over turn the whole decision).
I can't really understand why they would be so invested in bringing in this curriculum and throwing the waiver process out the window otherwise. All this effort to thwart the boards vote and offer (or strong-arm) EnVsion into schools.
A typical organization would at this point be spending their time and effort gathering accurate cost data from the MIF vendor, negotiating costs etc with the vendor, determining what PD is needed, liaising with other districts using MIF to see what they can learn about materials, PD etc needed, seeking in-house staff who are familiar with MIF to help with its roll out, providing information to schools/teachers and PR for the public about the new curriculum etc etc.
I mean, even if staff are disappointed that what appeared to them to be a better cheaper curriculum was not adopted, this sort of organizational behavior does not seem normal. Something must be on the line and I wonder if it is more than just pride.
Folks on here are more savvy with FOIA and public disclosure etc- Is there any way to find out?

Suspicious mind

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

Recall that the "illegality" of a dual adoption opinion was not publicly stated nor shared.


JvA said...

Some parents were asking me if there were any evidence that EnVision was a text-heavy curriculum that would be difficult for ELL learners. I illustrate an example of EnVision's text-heaviness here:

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about the tech support required for envision. The videos show extensive use of smart boards and laptops.

My child's school doesn't have smart boards, and we have a very limited number of computers, in general (in fact, this was one of the reasons we couldn't offer technology for PCP).

Are all schools getting smart boards and more laptops before the start of the next school year? If not, how would envision have been supported if it had been adopted (and how will it be supported at the schools receiving waivers)?

IF our school bucks the waiver trend, and votes to stay with Math in Focus, will we become an even lower priority for "modernization?"

- North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

North-end Mom, the Board just voted in $9M in tech/wireless upgrades. Because of Common Core testing, all schools will have to be computer-ready for those assessments. Whether it means you get white boards/laptops, that's another thing.

A-mom said...

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:

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog post, JvA. Thank you! MW, maybe link that post in a new thread. It's a powerful example for non-expert parents like me.