Friday, June 06, 2014

The District Strikes Back, Again?

There are two unfolding situations that could have real ramifications for many schools in the fall; one is about math waivers and the other (separate thread) about school funding (and "underenrollment").

Update: what I am hearing is that there is a thought to push a "districtwide" waver to use enVision over MIF.   I'm hoping that's not true.  It could possibly be the most unconstructive and most damaging thing that could be done.

end of update.

Update 2: From SPS:
There is a short window of time because we have to order textbooks.  Instructional materials waivers are guided by School Board policy 2020.
The Building Leadership Team is involved in the process based on the school’s decision-making matrix. Parents who have questions should contact their principals.
end of update

In Michael Tolley's presentation to the Board about math waivers here is what his slides said:

WAIVERS* Schools that have unexpired waivers can continue to use them.* Schools that submit for waiver may be approved--Must submit completed application by June 10, so that all schools can receive materials by the second week of the school year--Including appropriate consultations with BLT--Will approve use of any of the top three finishers in the adoption process as meeting the first requirement of policy to meet district and state standardsThe second says:

* 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* We anticipate funding approved waivers as appropriate

There are several issues here.  
  • Are principals having meetings with BLTs?
  • What about schools with waivers already?  What do they do?
  • The tenth of June is next Tuesday; is this truly plausible that this can get done?
  • I am completely baffed by "we anticipate funding approved waivers as appropriate."  Given the poorhouse talk at the Board meeting, I cannot understand where this money could come from.  If we are spending for a new math curriculum, I would think schools would need a VERY good reason to get a waiver going forward.  
I asked the district for a statement from Tolley or Heath.  I was told they don't have a definitive answer on the waivers but here is their statement on going forward with math adoption 

Seattle Public Schools budgeted $4 million for the K-5 elementary math adoption, and Math in Focus will cost about $7.8 million (enVision, the committee’s recommendation, costs $3.9 million).

The District is in the process of finalizing the recommended budget for the 2014-15 school year, which will go to the School Board later this month. As of today, in order to fully implement our new math materials, we will need to look at reprioritizing about $3.1 million from our current proposed budget. That likely means a reduction in some of the new supports we planned to include in order to better serve schools. However, we have not had time to identify those changes.

Superintendent José Banda said: “I’m pleased our elementary students will have new math materials in the fall. Our budget team will work on creating a solution that ensures we fully implement our new math program.”

Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Shauna Heath said: “We are looking forward to ensuring that students and teachers have the mathematics resources so that our students can succeed. Our next step will be to work with the curriculum vendors to organize professional development, develop pacing calendars and create a scope and sequence to support best practices.”

As well, the key to Math in Focus seems to truly be professional development. The teachers/schools that have used Singapore math could be enlisted to help the district know the best ways to help support teachers.

I find it very troubling that there is no statement about math waivers given that there are normally parents on BLTs.

What are you hearing at your school?


Anonymous said...

We need to have a community discussion about how effective the BLT management structure is working for us. School based management is structured around the BLTs, which is part of the Seattle teachers contract. Parental and community participation is not guaranteed and there is no district-wide governance structure of the BLTs.

Ann D

Anonymous said...

Be prepared for petulant behavior. When Ron Sims was county executive, and the public voted down tax increases or levies, etc., he would respond by saying, "Okay, tomorrow we'll start deciding which parks to close and which bus routes to eliminate," etc. Point being: "Deny us, and we'll show you how it feels."

There was never any comment about laying off redundant employees, closing or merging departments, or cutting back the size or expense of administration at all. Nary a mention.

Eventually that would occur, but Ron & Co's first response was to threaten and punch back, before setting about respecting the vote and living within his means. It may be human nature, but it's also petulant, unprofessional, and disrespectful to voters, who simply played by democracy's rules.

Frustration, Grief and Denial are probably running high in JSCEE right now. They just learned the hard way that there's a new Sheriff in SPS, and it ain't them anymore.

Things have changed. Wednesday was a huge day in SPS history and there will be a new normal for everyone down there.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I would just say that for anyone to allow this vote to make it harder for schools to enact this curriculum would be wrong.

I agree on the BLTs; I smile when staff points to them as evidence of working together among staff and parents and administrators when that is just not true at every school.

mirmac1 said...

I understand some board members feel assured that staff will cooperate and collaborate on waiver requests.

Disgusted said...

The district did NOT want and dual endorsement. Blanford gave excellent reasons behind this reasoning....;)

Funny the manner in which the district works.

Anonymous said...

"As of today, in order to fully implement our new math materials, we will need to look at reprioritizing about $3.1 million from our current proposed budget. That likely means a reduction in some of the new supports we planned to include in order to better serve schools. However, we have not had time to identify those changes."

Does anyone have ideas about how/when we might find out how "real" that $3.1 million number is?

While I'm very happy about the MIF curriculum, I'm also concerned about how the budget "reprioritizing" could affect other supports for working toward equity--such as Community Partnerships, Family Support Workers, etc.

WS Mom

Anonymous said...

How can the district be opposed to considering waivers for MIF or dual adoption when they expected to get Envision adopted but now that MIF has been adopted they suddenly seem open to waivers, and a defacto dual adoption.
Does everything in this district have to get twisted to fit the agenda of a few administrators?
It just stinks if they are going to try to get Envision in through the back door in this way.
Sure, continue the waivers for schools who are currently successfully using Envision keep using it, if they wish. (Just like they should have been willing to let Schmitz Park continue with MIF if Envision was adopted - though it seemed like they were going to make that difficult).
But I see no reason why they should be open to granting waivers to other schools unless there are very compelling reasons presented to them. It seems like they are trying to undermine the whole adoption process because they didn't get what the curriculum they wanted. How can we make sure they are not doing behind-closed door deals with school administrators to further their agenda of getting Envision in many sites and show the uppity public and school board who is really in charge here. And won't that cost more anyway - and they were so concerned about the cost remember.


Anonymous said...

JSCEE truly defines Weaseldom. If true, this is disgraceful.

Also: if true, this is par for the course.

Am writing to our principal right now to ask if we will move to MiF or continue with Envision (which we piloted this year).


N. End Mom said...

The Board needs to refine language around "district wide waiver" and adoption of materials.

I certainly hope Banda's actions are included in his performance review.

N. End Mom said...

The policy indicates that "In some instances,". "In some instances" is very different than a district wide waiver.

I hope there is some confusion over this issue.

Anonymous said...

The board listened to math experts, teachers, families and community representatives, the MAC, and did their own research about the curriculum before them and then voted - the result was MIF.
I will be absolutely pissed off if the power is then given to individual principals (perhaps with who knows what sort of district persuasion) to choose another curriculum and opt out of MIF. EDM waivers were only been permitted to happen at a few schools in the past (though god knows many more wanted to change), and it has been tremendously inequitable because motivated, well-off PTAs could essentially upgrade their curriculum.
The whole point of this math adoption was to end all of that and install a GOOD curriculum that was going to work for a diverse range of school populations and not require supplementation, or result in some school getting better math instruction than others.
To see the district now backtracking on their previously strict waiver policy (if we had Envision, would they be considering waivers??) blows my mind. The dust has barely settled since the vote and they are already appear to be acting in ill faith.

And what's with threatening to cut programs and services to fund MIF, and trying to make everyone feel bad about students who will suffer as a result of going with MIF. Is that the punishment for daring to defy the district? How about trimming some fat at JSCEE first - 3 new hires last week at $130000 a year - did we really need them? I bet the new math curriculum will benefit our students a lot more than a few more bureaucrats ever do.

I hope I am wrong about all of this and just reading too much into all this.


StringCheese said...

Shouldn't the School Board remind staff about he problems and issues with dual adoption, in the words of the staff themselves?

Also, as a parent of a child in a school with a current waiver for which the district refused with clenched teeth to fund (all we really wanted were the funds allocated for each school's EDM consumables that we weren't using), at a time when the general consensus was that EDM was failing our kids, are now thrilled to fund waivers at a time when an excellent, proven curriculum has been adopted?

Again, staff needs to be reminded (with a strong hand by the Board) that they cannot have it both ways! You can't scream about how dual adoption will ruin the district and then (suspectedly) allow wide-spread new waiver use that brings about the same result.

You cannot scream that a single adoption is the only way to go and then go against everything you have said because you didn't get your way.

Schools with current waivers should be allowed to keep them or have them renewed without hassle. I even support funding it (with that had happened for us) but new waivers should not be approved.

Doesn't the district see that this will discredit them more than the Board choosing not to accept their recommendation ever could?

Anonymous said...

The rumor? No way. Really. They can't be that stupid, arrogant, petulant, and immature to pull a 'waiver y'all thru to the promise land' stunt. Please note: not calling anyone a name, calling a presumptive behavior a name;-)

The budget is not able to pay for math text books for kids. Hummmm.... Well, since math is obviously THE no-holds-bar priority, guess we will have to look for other cuts.

So, let's be helpful and start that conversation. Here are some top ten contenders (warning, it is about to get snarky):

1. Stop heating the buildings: use the EDM textbooks as kindling for fires to keep the kids warm.

2. Use CMP2 textbooks for kindling when EDM supply runs out.

3. Since, in the truly immortal words of Director Martin-Moris, textbooks are nothing but a bunch of shiny objects (awesome!!), when we've gone through EDM and CMP2, let's just burn whatever other text book happens to be laying around!

4. Dump MAP testing.

5. Get rid of the new positions for managing strategic change and the other one, (sorry, I forget, because, it is kinda forgettable). Was it manager for planning? Ha! Planning! As if! Freeze the transition for the athletics to go from manager to director or whatever that escalation was. Whatever his title is, the football teams will keep on tackling, and the basketball trams will keep on dribbling, and the track athletes will keep on running, so the kids won't be affected.

6. Get rid of the deputy superintendent position. After all, Mr. Banda is so awesome, he doesn't really need to much help. He's got it covered. Somehow, the students will manage to get along without a deputy super pulling out his 6 figures from the budget: Carlos at Alki learning about civics and Pascal at TOPS learning about fractions and Jennifer at Ingraham learning Spanish will all carry on as if nothing has happened if that position is permanently furloughed. Because, kind of, nothing will have happened. I don't really understand the value-add of the job anyway, and, what I know is that with or without all the data collection in the world, teachers will keep on teaching, and, principals will keep on making sure their teachers are doing right by kids (that is the way it is suppose to be).

7. Here's a controversial one: get rid of the regional executive directors (many are really awesome people, that is not the point). We managed without these positions just a few years ago, so, looks like we will have to manage without them again. Again, priorities.

8. Get rid of the whole family engagement department, as SPS doesn't actually, authentically engage with families, so why bother having a whole department dedicated to the charade? No 'dis for the folks in that department, it is about SPS culture, and, the collision of budget and priorities.

9. (My personal favorite), Sublet the majority of the John Stanford Center for Education Excellence, bringing in annual dollars to cover the math text books and professional development, and, move the JSCEE staff, lock, stock and barrel, to the Schmitz Park (aka Schmitz trailer park) after SP moves to Genesee Hill. Why not? If that squat was good enough for students for years, why wouldn't it be good enough for the Super and his cabinet? If they need more offices, they can add a few more portables to the herd that is already there.

10. Save money by ditching curriculum for middle school language arts - oh, wait, we can't save money this way because we already don't have a curriculum. Oops, or do we have a curriculum, but just not that textual materials? Don't really know, the fineness of that ultra-important distinction is a bit lost on me anyway. How many angels do dance on the head of a pin?

Just trying to help. Love to hear other commentors' ideas for saving money.

Priorities, Priorities

N. End Mom said...

BB, I think the key is in the policy. "in some instances" is very different than district wide waiver. The district is pulling on strings and I don't think this board will allow the district to manipulate process- which seems to be the district's MO.

Melissa Westbrook said...

NE Mom, I hope not either. I hope cooler, more mature and more team-oriented heads prevail.

If not, this will get ugly and quickly.

Anonymous said...

Love it! I think some of your suggested cuts should be made for real (not just in jest). Core academics should come before salaries for the likes of Athletics Directors and all those additional tiers of middle management that are being added in.
But don't know if we'll need to burn the textbooks for heating, there is probably enough hot air at JSCEE.


Anonymous said...

I'm confused. Why don't we want to allow schools to choose the math curriculum they believe works better for their student population? Weren't we all pushing for dual adoption just a week ago when we thought we weren't going to get MIF? Now that we won and got MIF, why are we so strident against others that prefer enVision? Wasn't our argument that MIF was better for Highline's population and enVision was likely better for Shoreline's and that's why both these districts were happy with their curriculum? Shouldn't that be true for our different schoos that have very different demographics? Who cares what the staff says at this point...shouldn't we all work for the best curriculum(s) for all our students.
Win Graciously

Anonymous said...

@Win Graciously

From what I've heard, the "push" is for all the principals to be united behind either one of the texts (MIF or Envision). So, either they all accept MIF, as adopted, or all choose Envision by waiver. It's evidently not a matter of individual schools being able to choose what they feel is best for their communities.

I'm not sure where this push for unification is coming from... SPS or the union (or both).

IMO, MIF would be a much better fit for my kid's school (+40% FRL and ELL). I was happy that it was selected, and I will be very disappointed if our principal is coerced/strong-armed into to choosing Envisions (via a waiver) over MIF.

- North-end Mom
(BTW, not the same person as N.End Mom, who posted above)

N. End Mom said...

The district indicated that adopting 2 curriculums was very difficult and not in the best interests of high mobility students.

If you go to the district's web page, they indicated that the board did not approve the curriculum recommended by the committee. The district placed the names and positions of all individuals on the committee and linked to the school board meeting. Seems they are acting in very childish ways.

Anonymous said...

I have not been involved in a waiver request. But I have always understood that they were complicated -- difficult, even, that they required data (like what your current scores were, why the new materials would, you thought, be better -- either on a pilot or other basis, why the current materials didn't meet your kids' needs, what your parent community wanted, what your staff wanted, if it was a pilot, for how long, etc. etc.)-- all in reference to the current approved materials (which as of Wednesday are now MIF). I have never understood it to be a matter of "please give me mint chocolate chip; I don't care for the maple walnut you have ordered for the rest of the district." If my understanding is correct, I cannot fathom how, under the existing policy, schools currently using ED could make a solid case for a waiver to envision (in light of the board's vote) when they have no clue how MIF will work for their kids. I DO see a case for a school with a current envision waiver to KEEP envision (continuity for their own kids, no need to do addition PD, no new books -- except for the consumables, etc.). Everyone else, I think, should be getting MIF for a year, unless they can (and I cannot fathom how this would be true) can come up with a case, involving NO data, that justifies the waiver the way SSD currently does waivers.
Assuming that the staff does not try to sabotage the adoption (which surely they would not, and which surely both Mr. Banda, and the board, would not allow), I think after a year MIF can pretty much make its OWN case.

I do agree with Win Graciously that to the extent that waivers are allowable, they should continue to be allowed. I just don't believe, for a single second, that if the District adopted envision -- as a sole curriculum -- it would have been readily granting waivers -- for next year -- to schools wanting to dodge that adoption to move from ED directly to MIF, without even giving envision a chance. It was VERY dicey as to whether they would allow the current MIF schools to retain their materials -- and THAT was what I thought people were rightly upset over. If anyone wants me to advocate for envision waiver schools to stick with envision -- I am happy to help (assuming that is what their staff and parents want -- I feel badly for their kids -- but I think it is a defensible position as long as school families really want it.( But straight to envision from ED? After last Wednesday? under the current waiver policy?

That strikes me as highly unlikely, if not outright impossible (without pretty reprehensible behavior on the part of the EDs)! If I were a parent in such a school, the board, the Superintendent, the press, Cliff Mass -- a whole lot of people would be hearing from me!


Anonymous said...

@ win graciously

That would be all very well if the district was open to this prior to the vote (i.e. ok with schools selecting MIF instead of envision if that better suited their needs) but they clearly were not. So to swing the other way now smells fishy. Maybe if said upfront they would allowed waivers or dual adoption, the board may have swung in the favor of envision anyway - but the district doubled down and now they have lost, they want to change the rules. This is shows such a lack of integrity that it astounds me. I'm all for waivers continuing for current envision users but not for applying them willy-nilly when we have chosen a well-considered, totally reasonable (if not very good) curriculum - because then it is dual adoption and they said 2 days ago that dual adoption was not possible.
Plus I don't trust district staff not to coerce principals into going for an envision waiver- they have all sorts of sweeteners/leverage.

Why does the district want to use Envision so desperately - who stands to gain, and what do they gain from it - because somehow it doesn't seem like it is really just about providing best math for our kids here.


Anonymous said...

@ win graciously

That would be all very well if the district was open to this prior to the vote (i.e. ok with schools selecting MIF instead of envision if that better suited their needs) but they clearly were not. So to swing the other way now smells fishy. Maybe if said upfront they would allowed waivers or dual adoption, the board may have swung in the favor of envision anyway - but the district doubled down and now they have lost, they want to change the rules. This is shows such a lack of integrity that it astounds me. I'm all for waivers continuing for current envision users but not for applying them willy-nilly when we have chosen a well-considered, totally reasonable (if not very good) curriculum - because then it is dual adoption and they said 2 days ago that dual adoption was not possible.
Plus I don't trust district staff not to coerce principals into going for an envision waiver- they have all sorts of sweeteners/leverage.

Why does the district want to use Envision so desperately - who stands to gain, and what do they gain from it - because somehow it doesn't seem like it is really just about providing best math for our kids here.


Linh-Co said...

Parents please contact your principals if you want MiF. Have your PTA or BLT push for a school wide survey. This decision should not be a principal's discretion.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about double post - and I should have used punctuation - re MIF i meant "…..reasonable (if not, very good) curriculum" - I do think it IS good.


Anonymous said...


Call your principals, and ask specifically 1). What pushback they are getting, if any; what is there process for requesting a waiver, if any; 2). call your parent reps on the BLT and determine if any emergency meetings have been called; 3) same with your PTSA Board; 4) same with your teachers, especially math specialists, coaches and "Walk To Math" teachers; and 5). Most important: do report back here. Name names, schools and regions - me suspects we'll find patterns here.

The sky is falling, we must get the decision in by June 10th deadline is yet another opportunity for lack of transparency and pushback on the Board's decision. Devil's in the details. Would hope that childish immature reactions are not part of the play book, but without info. how will we know?

Where are those mobility numbers anyway, Supt. Banda, only thing I heard on Weds were was your deputy pressed into service THAT VERY DAY.... Huh?
With a brand new laundry list of cuts for hires that haven't been disclosed - typical JSC pit folks/programs against each other to fight over crumbs. Odd, desperate, and unprofessional.

Saw some bad Powerpoints on money without backup and LATE TO THE GAME that gave weight to the testimony " Apples to Zebra comparisons"

Not a shining moment for Supt. Banda and staff work.

To assume good intention, is I think, at this point, too hopeful.


Anonymous said...

Those schools that sought and either received or were turned down for waivers: please advise -- Who were the requests directed to? What was the process like? Was it to the Executive Directors?

Can someone point me to the policy and procedure for same? Cannot locate it.

Thanks in advance.


Melissa Westbrook said...

WG, I would have problem with a dual math curriculum except that staff made it sound like they would have to cut other things for MIF. If so, where are the dollars to support two systems?

I don't have a problem with waivers per se but if it is PTA dollars putting them in, then there's a real equity issue.

Anonymous said...

There / their process - need to stop using the IPad damned autocorrect.


Anonymous said...

If this Districtwide enVision waiver thing is for real, parents who support the MiF decision only need to demand that their child be afforded the curriculum selected by their duly elected officials next September.

The issue is no longer about the two choices…it is about denying students access to materials selected based on State Law.

We now have a Civil Rights issue. It will take only one parent to file the suit in Superior Court. When the dust settles, they will scrape out the 2nd and 3rd Floors of the Standford Center with a bulldozer, an action long overdue.

Schmitz Park and Boren's Waiver's were granted only after extensive input by parents, teachers, experts, and following two-years of piloting. Neither schools has ever received a dime of support for their materials. There is a major hypocrisy in this action that makes me burp up in my stomach.

South Ender

Anonymous said...

Oh Yeah…Boren just received their waiver a week ago from Heath. Weird huh? District waited two years, but it was granted just prior to the vote. Maybe it was those Boren MAP Scores provided to the Board…the "eleven" enVision schools probably did not do so well.

South Ender

Anonymous said...

So district has tough waiver policy while has widely criticized EDM.
Seemed intent on continuing that tough waiver policy prior to adoption of new curriculum (eg. with Schmitz Park).
Now there is widespread speculation based on staffs comments that they are more open to granting waivers to those that want them.
Did the district signal they were intending to review the current waiver process or announce any revision to the waiver policy prior to today?
If not, then there move is totally transparent.
The district needs to clear this up ASAP or they will have a firestorm on there hands. Underhand tactics to undermine the vote of our elected board. Why do they want this curriculum used so badly - seems fishy.
If South-ender is correct about the legality of it, and the implications - i say SPS; bring it on. We could do with some house-cleaning.
You would think they would learn from all the previous scandals etc though, wouldn't you.


Anonymous said...

I don't see Banda letting this go on very long. He is very aware of the radioactive issues in this district, and he knows the Math history in SPS. Throwing his weight behind staff's mutinous ploy at this point would be a very public act of insubordination and contravening the democratic process. That's career suicide. Banda works for the Board and has a decent reputation with the public. I don't see him putting that at risk over this.


Anonymous said...

I tend to think WSDWG is right. Any support (or countenance) of a staff attempt to change (or misuse the existing) waiver policy at this point to accomplish a de facto end run around the Board vote would be so blatantly transparent -- I don't know what you could call it OTHER than be flat-out insubordination. I cannot fathom Mr. Banda doing that (I also cannot fathom the Board allowing it, but I don't think it will ever get there, because I just cannot see Mr. Banda ever going near that idea). That doesn't mean that someone or more of the staff may not try it. Over the years, certain of them historically have shown little respect for policy or for the Board as policy-makers, and none whatsoever for parents. But that is a reflection on the character and intelligence of those individuals, not Mr. Banda, and I don't think he would ever support such a thing. The one possibility would be that someone might go ahead and grant one or more improper waivers without his knowledge. Unless ALL the parents at the involved school(s) are happy with the change, I sure hope that doesn't happen, because the resulting uproar will be huge. And I think it is the sort of thing that could be a career altering change for the principals and downtown staff involved.


Anonymous said...

It is the board members who proposed and voted on an ill-advised last minute amendment, which overrode the recommendation of a publicly convened committee, whose credibility is now at stake.

Neither the public not the staff can have any future trust in these members. They should look hard at their options.

For progress

mirmac1 said...

For Progress. What's more important; the MAC members' reputations (I can't name one and I pay more than half a mind) or the education of K-5 for the next 7 years? Not a tough decision.

I'm sorry to say that a former teacher friend just ripped me a new one because ignorant "rich white parents" are telling him/her what to do (needless to say I'm neither). It's too bad it's come down to that. Again, not a tough question: a superficial friendship or the future of K-5 math for the next 7 years. I won't lose sleep...

Anonymous said...

Let's see...maybe we can fund MIF through cutting the wireless plan that just went through. Math is more important than internet, especially K-5 math.

Sn mom

Anonymous said...

Time for Banda to go. We need a new supe who is wlling to do a thorough spring cleaning at JSCEE.


Anonymous said...

Banda's annual review is coming up this month. When is his contract up for renewal?

Just wondering

Anonymous said...

[scribd links to files responsive to following public disclosure request will provided as soon as Julian has time to put them in SPS Leaks. I am providing this because these documents would seem to be highly pertinent to the current discussion]

Sent: Monday, May 26, 2014
To: Barbello, Julie A
Subject: Re: ---

Hi Julie,

I hope that you are not seeing this email until Tuesday, and have had a wonderful holiday weekend.

I would like information about the "exception schools" referred to in Michael Tolley and Shauna Heath's testimony to school board on May 21, and which is quoted below.


1.What are the names of all the "exception" schools from 2006 though today?

2. For each "exception" school, what curriculum did they obtain a waiver for, and what amount did the district provide to pay for their waiver materials

3. Date of waiver, period covered by waiver, and when were the materials purchased?

4. What criteria did district use to decide which waiver schools would get money to help pay for waiver materials, and did they apply the criteria uniformly and equitable to all schools seeking waivers?

5. Who decided on these criteria? Were the criteria approved by the superintendent or the school board?

Thank you so much,

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 buidinggs 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.

Hi Joan,

We are in receipt of your request. Please find attached the records I was able to locate that may answer some of your questions. Please keep in mind that the public records office cannot answer requests for general information—I can only provide records. Questions regarding approval of waivers or the exception schools should be directed to Shauna Heath.

This confirms completion of your request. Thanks!


a.k.a. Public Disclosure Queen

Melissa Westbrook said...

I assume Banda's contract is coming up because of all the action on his evaluation matrix.

SN Mom, we can't pull back on the wireless. One, I think they signed the contract. Two, Common Core, remember? You can take the test on paper for a year but after that, it's computers.

Linh-Co said...

Something is definitely up. I just got off the phone with a Bryant teacher who told me the principal made a staff announcement this afternoon telling teachers to check their district emails this weekend. There might be some news and it's pertaining to the math adoption.

Anonymous said...

Here are links to documents relating to schools with waivers and with district support for their waiver materials.


mirmac1 said...

Unfortunately I believe it now a matter of staff "us" versus them "dummkopf parents."

Despite my years of effort on behalf of students and teachers (other than my own), it seems the math war has been portrayed by some as yet another diss by idiot "outsiders" second-guessing the classroom experts. Gosh, all this time I thought I was on the side of teachers. Well, I'm not losing sleep over it. I heard and understood Marty's take - when you're in the echo chamber everyone else (especially parents) is/are just a bunch of arrogant obstructionists.

Unfortunately the MGJ days created the omnipotent (and monetarily enriched) principal. Some of his/her priorities changed from responding to students/staff to upping the paycheck - along the lines of "instructional leadership" and other hoo-ha.

Somehow the board's rejection of the MAC's recommendation has been presented to staff as a rebuke of their professional opinion. Seriously. I ask teachers to what extent their input has led to the T-PEP and PG&E etc etc. Suddenly this long-overdue decision to chuck EDM and other verbal-heavy math is a denial of K-5 teachers' expertise. Unfortunately, this is the "circle the wagons" philosophy that has cut out a quotient of the SPS math mission - the family as equal partners.

I am not apologetic. This may be the last straw. Why bust my ******* to bolster teachers? It's all about me and mine and....mine. Knock yerself's out on those waivers. You guys can choke on the party line fed by your principal and JSCEE central staff. They're your friends.

Okay, gotta pet my kitties now cuz I'm pissed.

Anonymous said...

This cannot seriously be playing out like this - please let me be jumping to the wrong conclusion. The adoption process has run its course, interested parties had the opportunity for input, the MAC made a recommendation, the board made and passed a different one taking all of this, and their own findings into consideration - as is allowed by this process. Are you all saying it is now open season for principals to override what the district has adopted - gosh, I wish that was possible during the dark years of edm. Where is the money going to come from to pay for the more-costly math in focus AND envision? I thought we couldn't even afford math in focus? I can't believe this manoevering is driven purely by an overzealous belief in the superiority of envision product. I have to wonder - Is someone getting kickbacks from Pearson or is there some nonmonetary or political gain to be had. Or is it just simply venal, vindictive behavior on the part of staff who have been spoilt by all the past rubberstamping board members?


Falling Sky? said...

The district's annual budget is over $600M. Hard to believe they can't find $1M per year.

Falling Sky? said...

South Carolina and Oklahoma have signed bills to eliminate Common Core. The board was smart not to place an enormous amount of weight on Common Core Standards, but to go beyond those standards.

Another Thought said...

PASS wanted alignment. If Banda allows the district to give unlimited waivers, he is being insubordinate.

Anonymous said...

It is probable that any waivers that are granted in response to request submitted next tuesday will fall short of Policy 2020 requirements. So if staff grants any of the requests that come in June 10, staff will in most or all instances be guilty of violating Board policy 2020.

When the Board fails to follow its own policy, the public can take the Board to court.

Does the public have any recourse when the staff decisions/actions run foul of board policy?

Lawyers, would "Declaratory Judgement" be applicable?

Just wondering...

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

syd said...

Ironically - one of the choices, Jump Math, was considered the best choice and less expensive than the others. If only $4 million was allocated, perhaps that should have been a criteria.

Can't wait for a middle school revision.

Anonymous said...

you're all too focused on this detail and that process and this email and that statement and this machination and that betrayal ...

WHY isn't there an etched in stone process for adopting textbooks? SPS isn't boeing or microsoft, they don't make windows or 747, buying textbooks shouldn't be some mysterious shrouded in secrecy process with all kinds of "Gotcha!" deadlines.

IF it is, fire the staffers too incompetent to follow & update the tried and true process, or, fire the superintendent who hires, promotes & nurtures the incompetents.

All the key finger pointers buried in JSCEE are making over 6 figures a year, all of them could be replaced by Friday the 13th with people just as incompetent, venal and backstabbing. Maybe we the taxpayers would get someone not incompetent for 6 figures a year?

Banda is building empires and fiefdoms. Time to start the


Anonymous said...

It has been two years now and I too am not observing a significant culture change at JSCEE. Seattle deserves better and 6 figure salaries should result in much higher levels of professionalism than we are seeing from management.

Also, while Envision might have been easier for teachers to shift to I believe that Seattle isn't asking for easy. We want kids, all kids, to really learn math - Common Core be damned.

Ann D

StringCheese said...

The district stated that having even 20% of schools (is that 14 elementaries?) using a different district-paid-for curriculum was going to make the district explode. That was their argument against dual adoption. I don't care whether they now want to call it "waivers" if anything close to a 15% threshold is reached then it is, in essence, the dual adoption they said that they could not do. Period.

PASS didn't want dual adoption. Granted! You wanted certainty district-wide. Granted! You can't go back now, doing so is just as disingenuous as the district.

Joan, thank you for posting the comments from the 5/21 meeting. That was the meeting that really got me fired up because as a school with a real waiver, the district declared very clearly that they were not inclined to renew any waivers once they expired and they were also not inclined to fund any additional waivers, if they should be approved.

I would like a checklist (maybe I can find some time this weekend to make it -- or maybe someone else already has) of the arguments district has made against dual adoption and waivers, arguments used in support of a single adoption, and related documents such as the PASS letter. I want to very clearly show the hypocrisy as it bubbles to the surface over the next few days. Nothing like going against your own "hard and fast truths".

Anyone full school program using enVision should be allowed to continue and should be funded but no new waivers should be granted without a damn good reason. I just can't see a reason that could possibly rise above the issues the district itself raised when they thought they could push enVision through.

The shoe is on the other foot. Now walk.

mirmac1 said...

The board votes on contracts over $250K. If an Envision contract comes up...well...that was easy.

Linh-Co said...

@String Cheese.

This is not a checklist of arguments against dual adoption. But here's the staff rationale from the June 4th amendment 1:

With a dual adoption schools must be given some time to decide on their materials. If we give
them just one week, until June 11th
this would increase our risk of not getting materials in the
hands of students within the first 2 weeks of school. In this scenario, the Instructional Materials
Specialist has 2 days to ensure every principal submits a choice and then must process a more
complex set of choices into order sheets and submit to purchasing by June 13th. Purchasing has 2
weeks to process the order and submit to the vendor by the end of June. Receipt of materials in
our warehouse would then be towards the end of the third week in August, which is their busiest
time of the year. This puts receipt of materials by the end of the second week of school at severe
risk and most likely pushes it to the third week, which will impact implementation.
Pushing the decision date to the 20th
of June would extend the delivery to schools even later,
likely towards the end of the first month of school.

Impact of dual adoption on teachers in schools with high mobility

Research suggests “unaligned curriculum across and within districts creates gaps in learning
when students move (Rennie Center Report on: Challenges and Solutions to Educating Mobile
Students 201).” The negative academic impacts associated with intra-district students’ mobility
are: curriculum, loss of social capitol (long term relationships with caring adults and peers);
emotional effects. All of these elements impair student achievement. These impacts also affect
the new teachers and peers in the school that mobile students have transferred to. It takes time to
bring students up to speed academically; mobile students require individualized attention during
class and unaligned curriculum make this even more challenging; student mobility disrupts the
flow of instruction and impacts the amount of material that can be taught. These academic
cohesion and classroom environment/management issues could seriously impede Policy #0030
as well as Goal 1 of the Strategic Plan-Challenge and Support Each Student. Examples include:
the educational excellence of all children not being supported and increased opportunities for
disproportional discipline issues for our mobile students (who are predominantly children of
color and children form low income backgrounds).

Linh-Co said...

Difficulty of support dual curricula

A dual adoption or multiple math textbook adoptions impose a number of difficulties on SPS
staff. A few of these are articulated here.

In response to the SPS Board inquiry about Highline School District’s method of supporting
teachers in using Math in Focus, it is our understanding that Highline utilized local staff to train
teachers in year 2 of implementation. While at first glance this appears to be a cost saving
measure, it likely would prove not to be the case in Seattle. Current staffing structure for the
Math Program of the Curriculum and Instruction Department is largely based on Title 1 and LAP
funding. Compliance with the parameters associated with these programs does not allow a staff
person funded from these sources to do the type of training necessary to implement a new
textbook. Offering a supported dual adoption will require staff to be added and funded from
other sources, potentially taking funding from other worthy students and programs.

The Math Program is committed to providing the following: supporting teachers in
differentiating instruction, supporting teachers and teams in data analysis around benchmark
assessments, creating and maintaining a website of instructional supports, and developing scope
and sequences for each grade. Providing these supports at even a minimal level will require the
addition of staff members. At this time, there is insufficient funding to support dual or multiple
versions of this work.

Finally, as previously mentioned, the cost to the individual learner who changes schools over the
course of a year is high. Additionally, the challenge this poses to the receiving teacher and
schools will not be small. Students may have been taught skills in a different order and as a
result very likely may be missing prior learning at the receiving school. The receiving teacher
must fill this gap while not allowing the student to fall behind. An avoidable burden falls to the
individual teacher and the school to support this new student.

Even if funding is secured and staff members are added to support all of the work required by a
dual or multiple adoptions, SPS runs the risk of diluting the effectiveness of any one program.
Concentrating efforts, ideas, innovations and supports on one program likely provides the best
opportunity for success for all schools and students.

Anonymous said...

...sounds like an argument for limiting waivers, not encouraging them.

in disbelief

Deep Throat said...

What about costs of computer infrastructure? Do we have an absolute guarantee related to these costs?

On another note, I hope someone researches GMMB's relationship to Common Core. GMMB was given $437K to conduct a poll, and has been a major force behind Common Core. Frank Greer must be smiling.

Anonymous said...

Imagine a slightly different scenario - a hospital board of directors has determined that their surgical equipment is out of date, ineffective and needs to be replaced so they instruct the hospital to create a committee to make a recommendation. The hospital convenes a broad committee of surgeons, doctors, nurses, community members, patients, and even parents of young patients. This committee meets for many exhaustive months and makes a nearly unanimous recommendation that they take back to the board, which responds by saying, "thank you for all your time, but we are going with your third choice and we don't really care that it costs twice as much because our patients are worth it."

If you were a surgeon in this hospital that had served on the committee, what would you be thinking? Well, I would imagine you would be wondering if some members of the board were being bribed, but beyond that, you would feel incredibly disrespected and manipulated. You would certainly be wondering why you wasted your time on the committee when the members of the board already seemed to have their minds made up. You would like to believe that, since you have had years of schooling and practice in this profession, whatever expertise the publicly elected hospital board has, it certainly could not exceed your own, nor the expertise of all your colleagues. It seems ridiculous that a hospital board would do this to their staff, especially since all viewpoints were already considered within the committee. There was no breach of process, finances or equity.

The problem is that we do not view educators with the same respect as surgeons or doctors, even though many of them have practiced their profession for years and may have just as much schooling. The issue here is a matter of respect and process. If the board does not respect that the experts are within the hospital and allow those experts to have a say in the tools they use, there will be a Civil War and it will be miserable place to work. Would anyone want to be a doctor or patient there? No, because every time I use the knife that I did not select, I would feel resentment for the people who asked me to research it for months, then disregarded our collective selection and foolishly chose something else. In fact, I would probably start to look for ways to use the tool our committee chose. Had I been in the minority of the committee, I could concede that while I didn't prefer that knife, it was the choice of my colleagues and other community members on the committee and it was a fair process.

I did not hear a single reasonable cause on Wednesday evening to overturn the district committee decision - in fact, I heard three board members point out excellent reasons not to overturn the 21-6 committee decision. I have devoted nearly 30 years of my life to math education, not as a hobby like some, but as a profession. I can say that both of these programs are excellent programs, based on solid research of how students learn math. Our kids will not be the losers - they won't get a placebo, they will get a new math curriculum and it will much better than EDM. The losers are all of us who believed in a board elected by us to oversee the policy, equity and finances for SPS and make good decisions. Was the board entitled to make this decision legally? Yes, but the letter of legality and the spirit of legality are two very different things and leadership requires wisdom. I'm just not seeing any indication that this decision followed policy, was financially sound or even equitable. Supporting the committee decision and allowing waivers would have allowed everyone to save face, a win-win. I hope I'm not the only one who sees that it was a foolish decision representing a lack of wisdom and leadership that will have terrible consequences. In fact, I feel a Civil War coming on...


Anonymous said...

CW: The MAC were charged with making a recommendation. The board could accept or reject it. Those were the rules from the get-go.

People need to be professional about it when they don't get their way. If they can't focus on their craft because they didn't get their way, the issue is them, not the School Board.


Observer said...


The recommendation to go with enVision was not "near unanimous". There was a clear split, but MiF was strongly favored by a significant minority. And it certainly met everyone's standards as an improved curriculum over the current EDM.

The committee was tasked with voting on a recommendation, which they did. The Board is tasked making the final decision, which they did. Do not confuse the two.

The Board considered committee recommendations as well as additional data. Then by a majority vote they chose a different curriculum, one that had been vetted by the committee. You don't agree with their reasoning, but other equally involved players believed their reasoning was sound. Who is right? It does not matter. We are not Board members, and we do not have a vote.

You gloss over the fact that MiF was vetted by the committee and it met standards. It may not have been the top choice, but there is no scenario where it has been deemed substandard.

For the staff to go against a Board directive is straight up insubordination. It is one thing if the Board voted to go with materials that are "mathematically unsound", as has happened in years past. But in this case, the materials are sound. They are just not the preferred choice of some (not all) staff members.

It is extremely unclear at this point in time if principals are being pressured or threatened by their superiors to submit a waiver. If this turns out to be the case, then principals in this district are not independent actors. To pretend otherwise is disingenuous.

To foment a rebellion against the Board is utter folly in this specific situation. This is way, way beyond being upset over math materials. This is a group of staff members who are openly defying a Board directive.

Regardless of how you feel about curriculum issues, this is a very serious matter.


Melissa Westbrook said...

CW, and how to pay for this? And if it's the right thing, how to justify the money?

I appreciate that teachers feel unhappy. But the district, not the Board, decided there should be balance on the Committee and not all educators. Was Math in Focus the third choice as you say? This is not what I heard. Could someone clarify this issue?

Spirit versus letter of legality? Splitting hairs much? The Board is THE final decision on math adoption.

Observer said it well. No matter the Board vote, once you go down the road of allowing staff to override Board decisions, you open the door for any staff/committee to override elected officials legal decisions.

At this point, that's the bottom line.

I can only say that if the district doesn't have the money for Math in Focus, they don't have the money for two math curricula.

Anonymous said...

Why was a curriculum on the short list at all if it was out of budget for the district.
If cost is the limiting factor this should have been part of the consideration/exclusion process. The choice should have been made out of the 3 curriculum we could actually afford. It's too late to complain about the cost now.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Seriously, that may have been because staff never believed Math in Focus would go forward hence, leaving it on the plate to look fair.

Anonymous said...

so now they are frantically trying to wipe egg of their faces.
Did they botch the BAR?