Saturday, June 07, 2014

The Turning Point (Again?) for Seattle Schools

Deja vu all over again (with apologies to Yogi Berra). 

It's sometimes good to have been tracking this district for a long time.  Basically, it's about institutional memory and its usefulness. 

Sometimes, it is frustrating, exhausting and frightening.  All at once. 

I am speaking of the Board retreat going on today in reference to institutional memory.   I could have sworn that if I shut my eyes, then quickly opened them, I would see the ghosts of staff past sitting around that table.  Maria Goodloe-Johnson (that ghost comment is not in reference to her passing), Susan Enfield, Carla Santorno, even Joe Olchefske.  Because those are the people I thought might have been channeling through staff today.

I often wish there was a new person in the audience, a casual observer who I could question and ask, "What did that sound like to you?" 

Because I heard a lot of what staff has said before to the Board at the last retreat.  The Board knows what their work is (well, most of it).  The Board knows it's a big load.  And yet, staff felt compelled, on the basis of giving them a complete picture of adding bell time analysis to their load, to go over each department's work. 

Not a bad thought necessarily but that list!  I've never ever heard of some of these initiatives.  When Superintendent Banda asked me this morning where I would cut $3M, I'd start with these.  I would start with the district making a colossal mistake of getting themselves into the Seattle Teacher Residency when really, they don't have the time OR the money to do so. 

Most of these items do not seem to be services going directly to classrooms. 

Why such a long Strategic Plan?  Why so many projects that you need a project manager?  If you wanted - to use an ed reform fav - have a "laser-like" focus, why all this?

At the end, it came down to the words from Charles Wright, deputy superintendent.  He is the bad cop - albeit kindly and soft-spoken - to Banda's good cop.  He basically let the Board have it.

In so many words, he told them:

- too many things get changed "in flight".  He said "things that went on this week" happened with people getting pulled out of meetings and off projects.  (I think he was referencing the math adoption.)

- he wants the Board to tell staff, "don't worry about these things," apparently in reference to the many projects and duties cabinet staff has.  Again, of course, there is a large volume of work to be done but when a lot of it is not the basics, you have to wonder.

- principals don't feel like they are getting the resources and support they need

- staff need to have safe spaces to say things.  He said everyone at the table needed to watch their tone and be respectful and it was difficult to talk given that meetings were open.  (That's democracy for you.) 

- he said that district staff was not getting clear expectations and they need professional development.  He said that there is a productivity gap and that when districts don't support staff there is "no dignity or fairness or resources." 

- He said that they need the Board's guidance on what will help with decisions. 

Lastly - in a final thrust - he told the Board that Board "requests" for information from staff are rising.  "Our ability to do the work is challenged by volume of requests."  He then struggled with his computer in order to give the Board "data points."

For example, in March 2014, e-mails from Board to all staff (don't know if this includes school staff) went from 465 in 2012 to 655 in 2013 to 827.  He proceeded to give more monthly stats. 

He also said that the protocol had been established about talking to staff below the cabinet level and that the Board wasn't following it.  (If that is true, sure that should change.)

But here's the problem with just the basics of his statements on these e-mails. 

How many were from Board members saying, "Got the information, thanks." 

How many were from school staff setting up Board members to attend their school's event or meet with the principal? 

Look at your own e-mail.  How many are about logistics and how many are really about information someone else needs?

So there may be a higher volume of e-mails but are they all requests?

But basically, it sounded like complaining about the volume of work AND the requests from the Board for information.  That volume of work could be dialed back; it absolutely could.

 But the requests?  Not for elected officials.  (But maybe I should check with the City Council office on their requests vis a vis the City. That might be interesting.)

I note that Director Blanford was nodding as Mr. Wright went on.  The other Board members (those whose faces I could see) were stone-faced.

I was not able to stay for Board questions and comments but I'm sure a few other attendees will fill us in.

What is happening?

Sadly, there is a divide between staff and the Board.  Clearly, there are hard feelings over the math adoption even only for the volume of work it put on staff. 

I think staff, like those before them, wish the Board and the community would just go away and let them do their work. 

I think it is valid to question how much time staff takes to answer questions from the Board.  (I don't really know how the work is organized in the Board office but they clearly could use some more staff of their own.)

I won't say that about the public because if staff was clearly communicating their plans and actions, most of the public wouldn't ask questions.

Past superintendents have tried to control the Board.  It never works (at least not in this town).  But most Board directors - no matter their own personal goals as a Board member - do tend to believe in their duty as an elected official.  They believe they MUST provide oversight and sometimes need to press hard on staff to make sure they have the most complete information before a vote.

I am sad to see this district once again in a dangerous time.  A time when staff feels so distanced from the Board that perhaps they are not working as a team but at odds. 

It's going to take leadership, understanding of each side's role and responsibilities and a willingness to work together to create better academic outcomes for the students in Seattle Public Schools.  By both Superintendent and staff and the Board.  

But my old bones feel like a storm is gathering. 

44 comments:

Just Saying said...

The board is charged with oversight and this means obtaining information. Perhaps it is best for the board to hire a staff member for research etc. We also need to acknowledge the endless hours of work board members put into their jobs, and don't get paid.

Blanford's wife works for the district and I can't imagine him having the ability to be completely objective.

Anonymous said...

I would be more than happy to accept any position with the disctrict and do whatever what was asked of me, even putting in some extra hours if needed to get the job done.


Unemployed







Anonymous said...

"I think staff, like those before them, wish the Board and the community would just go away and let them do their work."

Well, don't we all feel that way from time to time? Boo-hoo.

Can't take the heat, leave the kitchen. As "unemployed" notes there are plenty of qualified and talented people who can do those jobs, and actually do them well.

WSDWG

Melissa Westbrook said...

Here's the thing - these are all pretty smart people. They all really work hard.

That there seems to be a disconnect on priorities seems to be the real issue as well as who has the final word where.

Anyone who thinks some small group of parents convinced the majority of the Board to vote for Math in Focus is just wrong. It diminishes all the work that both Peters/McLaren did.

What is happening sounds somewhat like sour grapes with a large whiff of "we know better."

Of course, as Just Sayin' said - always, follow the money.

Eric B said...

Is that list of projects available online anywhere? That would be great to take to Board community meetings to highlight non-classroom projects that maybe could be dropped to support actual teaching and learning (crazy, right?).

Eric B said...

And I might add that respect is a two-way street and it is earned. If staff repeatedly refuse to work on the Board's priorities, then they show no respect to the Board. It is hard for the Board to be hands-off when staff doesn't do what the Board wants.

mirmac1 said...

Who wants to bet Linda Shaw has Wright's PP as we speak?

mirmac1 said...

It would send a strong message if the board decided to NOT extend the contract of its one report right away. Let him stew on it. Why does this district exist: as an employment program for administrators or as a means to effectively teach Seattle kids?

Eric M said...

It's sad to me that teachers in classrooms working with students don't seem to figure directly into any of this work of board and staff.

#2WayStreet said...

Three board members ran with a promise to address a failing math curriculum; a curriculum that did not serve ELL students, and they won. The district is deliberately trying to undermine their authority. This will not end- well. Eric M is correct.

Additionally, LEV led a campaign for board members to sign-onto Universal Pre-K. The campaign for this initiative was led BEFPRE the board received a briefing. The role, level of bureaucracy and costs associated to the district remain unaddressed at this time. Shameful.

Disgusted said...

Definition of insubordination:

"Insubordination is the act of willfully disobeying your superior. Refusing to perform an action that is unethical or illegal is not insubordination; neither is refusing to perform an action that is not within the scope of authority of the person issuing the order.[citation needed]

Insubordination is generally a punishable offense in hierarchical organizations which depend on people lower in the chain of command doing what they are expected to do."

District leadership is putting principals and BLT in precarious positions. This will result in high levels of confusion. Unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

How many of the data requests from Board to staff are the result of vague, incomplete, half-assed or misleading information put out there by staff initially? We've all seen the BARs that get posted. How many of us would just approve them without seeking written clarifications beforehand? I suspect that it staff presented more thorough and credible info up front, there'd be fewer questions.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Banana Republic

2 words sum it up

mirmac1 said...

I believe I know what some of those emails are. Used to be parents would write the board upset about something and we get nuttin'. Now, it seems staff has had to respond to complaints and issues raised by parents. I'll bet that pisses staff OFF. "Why do we have to answer to the great unwashed?"

Now, I understand that staff can't spend all day responding to these emails - but they have to do it until they realize they are accountable to the students and families of this district. 'nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Watching the board meeting testimony of Michael Tolley, it is pretty clear that the central staff is totally unprepared and unwilling to adopt the board chosen curriculum MIF. The EDM order was placed before the board made that vote. It seems likely that an enVision order has already been placed. There should be a paper trail to support that, if not materials landing already at JSCEE.

SE parent

Anonymous said...

Eric B - about that list of projects - somewhere back in the heyday of MGJ's Reign of Terror Charlie had a some diaries where he listed ... the project names, who was supposedly responsible, what was supposedly supposed to maybe happen ... I think he did them about every 3 or 4 or 6 months - whatever -

POOF - up in smoke, baby!!

I'm pretty sure almost all, or all, of the these MGJ project - priorities turned into employment for 6 figure a hucksters, a lot of power points, a lot of meetings, a lot of mystery, a lot of money spent, and a lot of nobody knows nuttin ... kind of like walking into a classroom of 30 high school kids who are doing somethign that they're not supposed to do, you didn't catch 'em red handed, and nobody

KnowsNuttin

Anonymous said...

I'm disappointed in the comments presented by Mr. Wright. Whatever his intent, the message is seems to be that the public are pests. Whereas, the public are asking legitimate requests for information and transparency via the Board. The Board is doing its elected duty (at least some Board members!). Very disappointed to see the culture of victimization continuing under Supt Banda.

beentheredonethat

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eric, I will try to get the PP of these priorities. I'm sure it's available.

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

SE Parent,

Can you verify that EnVision has been purchased?

Anonymous said...

I am a parent, not a math teacher, but honestly I don't know what to think anymore. I know very smart math experts (who I respect a lot) who are not huge fans of MIF (I know there are downsides and would love to hear more about that since I am a skeptic and not typically a bandwagon type person). I know others who are rabid fans of MIF (especially parents whose kids attend schools who already use it). I don't know anything about Envision other than that I have heard that it is not all that different from MIF, but is wordier and less ELL friendly. I also know that there were a lot of smart people on the MAC who worked very hard and came up with the recommendation (albeit divided) for Envision. I am also suspicious that my school will end up with a waiver for Envision. I know Envision is a huge improvement over EDM, but is it as good as MIF? Is it better? I have no idea. I know that at our school our teachers have supplemented (and largely supplanted EDM) with a hodgepodge of materials that meet the criteria for Common Core. My kid is learning math and doing well (although I get frustrated with her homework because they are solving problems in a more convoluted way than the old carry and borrow algorithm I learned). I guess I am just confused and frustrated by what is going on here and feel the need to vent. There seems to be a huge disconnect between parents and the board and staff at SPS. This latest bit with the waivers for Envision feels very shady to me as a parent. I just want the best curriculum for my kids. I also don't want the inequity that has existed around math to continue (ie some schools have waivers and wealthy PTAs to buy better math while the rest of us struggle). That is at the core of it for me. Equity in math curriculum for all kids in SPS and not just those with the wealthy PTAs who can buy it. I also think a lot of parents are going to be very angry when they find out what is going on here and this could blow up in a very negative way for the district and for staff/principals at individual schools who go with Envision over MIF. What a mess. Big sigh.

Confused and frustrated parent

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.

JS

Anonymous said...

After probabably a 2-year hiatus, I have put in several requests for information, all of these in relation to the math adoption.

I notice a profound change in the responses, It used to be that I would get all my questions fully answered, even if thate would mean a district official having to provide a written response.

Now the officer will do no more than provide whatever pre-existing documnents that she deems responsive.

Sometimes the response includes a suggestion to communicate directly with a certain staff member.

I haven't bothered yet to follow-up, since I don't expect to get anything but silence from questions put directly to staff.

I wonder if by law it is permissible for the PDO to redirect the asker to a staff member? Is the staff person legally obligated under the PD law to answer questions that come directly from a community member rather than from the PDO? I need to check the law.

JS

Anonymous said...

JS: I wonder whether perhaps it is time to contact the state auditor and to request whether they review, in their next audit, whether the District's changes in responses comply with state or other applicable law. If they don't the District bears some substantial risk of huge penalties for failure to comply.

Jan

Anonymous said...

@JS, the public disclosure act only requires that SPS provide documents that are responsive to your request. They are not required to create documents that answer your questions or gather information that is not already written down or recorded in some fashion. This distinction is usually not such a big problem if you tailor your request with these limitations in mind.

-Lawyer

Anonymous said...

Confused and frustrated parent brings up good points - how do parents provide meaningful input at this point? The texts are no longer available for review (and when they were, it was during school hours at limited locations, or over Spring break...) yet principals and parents are suddenly supposed to weigh in? Based on what information? Hearsay? Gut feeling? Administrative pressure?

This is not a way to choose the curriculum students will be using for the next 7+ years.

If schools choose a waiver, are they committed to the program for the next three years (the length of the waiver) or until the next adoption cycle? What if schools want to revert to MIF? Are they out of luck? Are waivers only going to be approved this week, and only for enVision, but not in the future, or for other programs?

confused too

Anonymous said...

I woke up with this idea to urge community involvement and knowledge in the - what - 48 hours the community now apparently has to weigh in on the math course for their students.

If Melissa is willing, she could create a blog post with the name of every elementary and alternative school listed as a bullet point. Next to each school she could update - as information is received - whether schools are going MIF, EnVision or Other. Readers can send in their information via the comments section of the blog post...she would change the post itself based on that information.

It would be a way for readers to see which schools are talking to their parents and which aren't on this decision. If a school remains 'blank' a reader with a friend at the 'blank' school might prod them to send a principal email asking about the decision-making process.

We'd get more rapid information this way than via SPS info requests. Its report will come out after the fact. This way has a small chance of forcing community engagement.

Anyhow, just a thought.

Veteran Reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Frustrated and Confused, I think you speak for a lot of parents.

Confused, too, good questions all. I don't really know; I can try to find out.

Veteran, I can try to do that.

Anonymous said...

I looked at the math materials at Blaine elementary school. My impression of enVision was that it had too many distracting graphics and explain your answer type of questions. It also had more test prep content, which likely appealed to SPS staff nervous about CC.

Math in Focus materials seemed cleaner and easier to understand. There was more emphasis on math.

Cliff Mass, science professor at UW, likes Math in Focus. He sees many students who come into the university who are unprepared in math, so his opinion carries a lot of weight to me.

In the last ten years I have done quite a bit of reading myself on math and looked at different studies, from the Hook studies in Calif. to local results such as math improvements at Mercer middle school when they switched the curriculum to Saxon.

My conclusion is that the more you teach math instead of reading problems pretending to be math, the better your child will do. I would bet on Math in Focus.

S parent

mirmac1 said...

Here are the email addresses of all principals of K-5 and K-8s. Granted there have been some changes or retirements, but if you want to send a message:

ajohnson@seattleschools.org
smstanton@seattleschools.org
legeoghagan@seattleschools.org
cacollins@seattleschools.org
ejayer@seattleschools.org
pstang@seattleschools.org
dksanger@seattleschools.org
vkturner@seattleschools.org
ngzavala@seattleschools.org
kmpearl@seattleschools.org
ajsheffey@seattleschools.org
ajsheffey@seattleschools.org
wwtodd@seattleschools.org
fgthaxton@seattleschools.org
jabreidenbach@seattleschools.org
cothomas@seattleschools.org
gimel@seattleschools.org
lemorrison@seattleschools.org
jbowers@seattleschools.org
wtrotter@seattleschools.org
sjscott@seattleschools.org
klhanson1@seattleschools.org
bostrom@seattleschools.org
jlervin@seattleschools.org
shmckinney@seattleschools.org
rmgallagher@seattleschools.org
kmjolly@seattleschools.org
ntgerrans@seattleschools.org
rclaytor@seattleschools.org
mjsmithjr@seattleschools.org
mjsmithjr@seattleschools.org
wfloyd@seattleschools.org
phunter@seattleschools.org
cmhelm@seattleschools.org
clmcmillian@seattleschools.org
dpgolosman@seattleschools.org
mebreuder@seattleschools.org
callan@seattleschools.org
ajthompson@seattleschools.org
rjsammons@seattleschools.org
scjaskot@seattleschools.org
hhjoung@seattleschools.org
scpowell@seattleschools.org
delliott@seattleschools.org
srmirabueno@seattleschools.org
alpinchback@seattleschools.org
smwashington@seattleschools.org
bdorsey@seattleschools.org
djwarren@seattleschools.org
bjrhodes@seattleschools.org
gakischner@seattleschools.org
dgfauntleroy@seattleschools.org
kaarcher@seattleschools.org
jminer@seattleschools.org
ceoatis@seattleschools.org
ceoatis@seattleschools.org
mota@seattleschools.org
mota@seattleschools.org
tskjei@seattleschools.org
cpcronas@seattleschools.org
vksacco@seattleschools.org
mjloveness@seattleschools.org
mdschweitzer@seattleschools.org
dmuth@seattleschools.org
dnelsen@seattleschools.org
jasturmancox@seattleschools.org
smtalbot@seattleschools.org
mamcdaniel@seattleschools.org
tmtalbert@seattleschools.org
ddockendorf@seattleschools.org
rmerca@seattleschools.org
jbenkovitz@seattleschools.org
kdscarlett@seattleschools.org
cescott@seattleschools.org

Anonymous said...

There are a few points that seem important to me.

1. Where did this waiver movement originate. Was it started by a few principals in favor of enVision? Was it a nod from Michael Tolley through Ed Directors? Clearly there is a discussion among principals about organizing to do a mass waiver application. Who organized this? The Board should be able to get to the bottom of this.

2. We are not ready to do any adoption at this point. Waiting one year to do a proper process with an appropriate level of community input can only help. Staff creates a manufactured urgency with deadlines that control the amount of community input. This happens with every district wide change. We knew for several years that it was time for a new adption.

3. Math department said there would be no pilots, and that data from unapproved pilots, like Go Math, MIF would not be collected. Yet enVision suporters say that they want this adoption because it was piloted. We should do pilots where for example, the top three curriculum choices are tested in buildings for a time, assessments and feedback from parents, teachers and students are collected. We are the largest district in the state, and we have never done an appropriate test of the materials, giving central staff huge leverage over the process.

4. I don't know whether enVision has been ordered, but Michael Tolley has sure been acting as if it has. Reminds me of Carla Santorno with EDM. I suspect she was exited because of this botched adoption. IF the order for enVision has been placed, there will be evidence of that, and someone should be accountable.

SE Parent

Kumon Driver said...


The process is an absolutely sham. Banda and staff are ignoring the Board vote and allowing the process to do an end-run around the board's decision.

I certainly got tired of driving to Kumon and spending money on private tutoring.

Please write to Banda and the school board on this issue. The school board needs to hear from you.



Anonymous said...

Downtown is beyond help.

But it's the Principals (stupid!)

Hammer your principals! They are the accessories to this crime against the community and it's far past the time they showed some courage, stopped selling out their schools, and quit brown-nosing tyrants.

I am so tired of hearing principals lie through their teeth, spout the JSCEE party lines and feign concern over matters they have little to no interest in, other than getting their raises and a job offer at JSCEE someday.

In all my years in this district, I've only encountered 2 o 3 teachers I'd call "BAD." But BAD principals? They're everywhere.

BAD teachers typically go away after a year or two. BAD principals? They stick around for ever, and the district even creates phony job titles for them.

Folks: Consider the percentages: We probably have 5% of our teaching corps, at best, who should be doing something else. With principals, it's well over 50%. That's right >50%. And it gets worse every year.

The truth is that it's a lot harder to find a good principal than a bad one. And some are really, really bad. If they were teachers, they'd have empty classrooms. That bad.

It's well past the time we need to confront this issue and deal with it as a community.

The principals are part of the problem, not the solution. They've lost their way and need to be brought back in line.

We should also send letters of support to Schmitz Park's principal for having the courage and integrity so many in his union lack.

Principals: Pick your math as you please. But pick what's best for your community, not your bosses in JSCEE.

WSDWG

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

Anonymous said...

Look there is nothing working in SPS!

Unless we do something radical it will be business as usual.

Transportation issues!
SPED collapse!
APP collapse!
Math collapse!

I know when I start to see racial red herrings throw around that logic is dead.

It'dsobvious now that the district is too large for the team of administrators to handle.

The old Kook embezzler John Stanford did see that the top down approach would not work. He had no idea how to manage or implement the idea, but he did see the value in his staff doing no real work.

I find it hard to believe that schools given strict parameters can not do without the John Stanford Center for embezzlement.

The STC is sucking the life out of district and if the State is not going to step in we will need the feds or a class action law suite to stop this bunch.

I would like to see a referendum limiting the amount of money that can be used by the central administration. Schools should be able to shop around for services if needed and the district should have to bid to provide any service. Contract law would then apply where schools can terminate and sue the central administration for failure to perform.

--Michael

Anonymous said...

@SE Parent: If you're right, Tolley's a goner. I don't think any official order has been placed for EnVision, although I'm wiling to bet assurances were given and JSCEE staffers are scraping the egg off their faces as we speak.

It would make sense, that staffers are very worried about their reputations at this point, because besides that, what else do they possess? Talent? Loyalty? Work ethics? Intelligence? Not very much from what I've seen to date.

Go-along-to-get-along rinses those qualities out of anyone who works at JSCEE over time, as getting it done is more important than getting it right. Obviously.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

I'm not a change management expert but it seems to me this is not the way to go about shifting curriculum. When our clients purchase our software product there is typically a 3-6 month adoption cycle -- after procurement is completed. This is to ensure that proper training happens, that support systems and policies are in place, etc. How can the district place the order in June with the expectation that the materials will arrive after school starts. What kind of change management is that?

Also, realistically we should do a phased in approach as Math in Focus moves at a different pace and there might need to be some backtracking.

I think we need Math in Focus, and it sounds like those who give a crap have been asking for this proven curriculum for years -- but only a few schools managed to self-fund it through a waiver. Seattle deserves better than test-prep. I almost am of the belief that they should start K-2 with Math in Focus next year and a modified interim curriculum for grades 3-5 -- which most teachers have already been doing, but this time they need to transition students over to the Singapore Math/MiF approach.

Ann D

Anonymous said...

@Michael:

Correction! Nothing is working in JSCEE. It's a critical distinction the public needs to understand.

Despite that dysfunctional abscess in SODO, our schools are doing well for most of our families and students. Imagine how they'd do if JSCEE actually supported the schools, versus dragging them down.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

If the district deemed MIF too expensive and not an option for our district on this basis why was it ever on the table in the first place.
Surely, if cost is going to be a limiting factor that should have been reflected in the MAC considerations and weightings - perhaps any curriculum costing more than a certain threshold should have been excluded from consideration. That would have to be based on very accurate, truly comparable cost data of course, which we didn't seem to have until the 11th hour.
What is the point of having a process, and a choice, when once a specific option is selected, the cry from the district is we can't do it - we can't (or don't want to) find the money. Too bad, now you have to find the money.
If there is a budgetary cap on math curriculum adoption then the district should have ensured the MAC had this information and the finalists were all within this budget.
Even a kid could figure that out.
This process has been flawed and faulty at every staff (No disrespect to the MAC- you worked within the parameters you were given). Every time I think SPS can't get any worse they prove me wrong.

Geez

Anonymous said...

Well, and we know there are several different ways to implement MiF, with several different price points. I would certainly prefer a stripped down version of MiF to a back end coup from the district to Envision. Those "explain your reasoning" problems are a huge impediment to learning- theoretically it can be helpful for children to rephrase the answer for more complete mastery, but in practice it turns 5 minutes of homework into 50 as they have to draw 100 squares, and then 17 shaded in, or some other tedious, joy sucking activity.

Many, many elementary teachers have been using the Singapore supplemental materials for years, especially for subtraction and multiplication, and do not need extensive PD. We already have many (most?) of the manipulatives.

Thanks very much for the list above of principals.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

I noticed Pearson has an orange ad in the classified NW jobs section today looking for people to score student essays. I am sure this company would love to get the enVision math curriculum contract, so they could make money off the materials and the future testing tied to them.

Another reason to support Math in Focus.

S parent

Anonymous said...

...not sure that's a reason to choose MIF, but results like this are:

Math in Focus pilot NJ

More Fayette [KY] schools sign up for Singapore math program

parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

So many good comments, I hardly know where to start.

First, SE Parent, you are quite right to be suspicious. We are all having that gut reaction that something is not right here.

Talent? Loyalty? Work ethics? Intelligence? Not very much from what I've seen to date.

Look, no matter the motives - which are different from the above list - there are many hard-working and talented and smart people at JSCEE. That some at the top use their talents towards loyalty to each other and not the district, that's another issue.

THANK YOU Mirmac1 for all those e-mail addresses. I'll move them front and center.

Is this any way to choose and purchase a math curriculum? It would appear not (and if any other regional districts are keeping up with this situation, I think they are probably laughing at the absurdity of it all.)

But to be serious, it appears that some cabinet staff believe they have some kind of upper hand or something and, using this ploy of principals "picking" enVision, they will win out.

It's a gamble and I cannot think what possessed them except, of course, the money.

They want the money for their myriad of projects.

BUT there are two things they really underestimated:

1) the Board IS truly the final word so to get into this kind of tussle is not good

2) while Sherry Carr is very much a money person (if you heard her rationale for enVision you would have heard that) BUT she is also a chain-of-command person. I would hope that Martin-Morris and Blanford would follow that lead.

Meaning, the Board must stand united against such transparent measures. They must NOT let their legitimate vote be undermined. I warned them in an e-mail to do so sets the tone for their work ahead AND all other Boards. They should not give ANY kind of pressure from staff any heed.

The Superintendent has his orders from the Board. He should proceed to implement Math in Focus and worry about any waivers next school year.

Anonymous said...

MW: You don't have to tell us anymore that JSCEE has smart people. The problem is that, in the end, that matters little in competition with surrendering to a higher-up's agenda. After awhile, brilliant people have no choice but to produce mediocre outcomes, when that's the direction the ship is being steered.

I'm not arguing JSCEE staff aren't smart and hard working. I'm saying talent is wasted on mediocre planning, if any at all, and agendas due to group-think and putting on a show for the public.

How much time, money, and talent is wasted - ABSOLUTELY, UNCONTROVERTIBLY WASTED - on utterly useless PowerPoint Presentations that could've have all been done in MS Word or presented as an outline instead of put on dull, meaningless slides, for no legitimate purpose?

It's this kind of utterly useless crap that gets in the way of meaningful dialogue and communication to move this district forward.

Anyone remember that Organizational Chart for the IT Department in SPS? Ridiculous. How does IT save us money when it takes 25 to 50 full-time people to run it?

There is so much waste in JSCEE driven by ideological philosophies and wants, versus actual needs to support our schools, I believe we could reduce the budget by 10% down there without feeling it in schools at all, if we had people who understood what "public service" really means, versus "getting hooked up" to the public trough.

It's a whole other can of worms, but it starts with the leadership at the top. This is Banda's chance to either be a leader for this community, or throw himself into the same boat with the same-old, same-olds who have prevented this district from achieving it's potential for several generations.

To me, forget about Tolley, et al. This is Banda's call, as he's the final word on Waivers.

He's either with the community and respects the Board, or he's with the mutineers, in which case, he walks the plank.

WSDWG