Thursday, October 15, 2015

At Yesterday's (Kinda) Wild Executive Committee Meeting of the Whole

It was a hugely important meeting, if a bit wild.  Because there is SO much happening right now for our district and I'm trying to chase down so much information, I only have time for highlights:

The district has ended its relationship with the Alliance for Education (for the most part).  I will scan and post their letter but it is very damning.  Basically, the district says it has been trying, for years, to get on a better footing with the Alliance.  There are several allegations by the district.

The letter says:
  • that the Alliance did some fundraising, using SPS' name, that didn't exactly find its way back to the district
  •  that a superintendent (I'm assuming Banda) was bad-mouthed by the Alliance behind his back AND during an Alliance social event
  • It says that the Alliance met with some principals without district permission or knowledge.  
As for the Seattle Teacher Residency program, it agrees to continue on with the Alliance but only if the district's payment share is $50,000 which is way below what the MOU says.  Basically, the district is saying, "take it or leave it" and will walk away from the MOU if the Alliance doesn't agree to these terms.  (I not that it seems likely the district will probably honor the current cohort of STR candidates but go no further.)  I agree with this action on the part of the district.

The district will have to find another fiscal agent for those PTAs using the Alliance's (expensive) services.  I had heard at an A&F meeting that they did send out an RFP and only the Alliance submitted a proposal.  I find that hard to believe in a city of Seattle's size that no other firm was even interested.  (I don't know if the Alliance will continue, on its own, doing this work).

I spoke to Jane Broom, of the Alliance, briefly.  She said it was not one thing that occurred and that there seems sorrow on both sides.  The Alliance was started during the tenure of Superintendent Stanford and that does make it sad.  The Alliance put out their own announcement today; it does not address any of the allegations made by the district.

The Kids Not Cuts group disrupted the meeting yesterday to the point where we ended up playing musical chairs.  They asked, right before the meeting started, to be able to speak and have a brief discussion of their issues with the Board.  President Carr said, no, we have an agenda and cannot legally discuss anything else.  KnC leader, Chandra Hampson, continued on and there were cries from other members about it not being fair.  Carr then moved the entire meeting to the Board conference room which is a cramped space.  We were warned not to talk and no one did.  They, at one point, locked the doors to the Board office so no one else could come in and I went out and complained.  (What if new people arrived late to the meeting who had nothing to do with the disturbance?  It was, after all, a public meeting.)

Then, they decided to go BACK to the JSCEE auditorium, again with a warning.

The KnC folks were told by Carr that, at the break between the meeting and the Work Session, individual board members would talk to them.  That took nearly two hours to get to with KnC folks sitting patiently.  The discussion then was about 10 minutes, in several locations in the room.  I didn't hear all of it so I would let those folks chime in.

I will say that the district has done poorly on their messaging and communications to the point where it is fairly difficult to discern what all the reasoning is.  Principals and Executive Directors have said varying things in explanations to parents. A couple of things are clear:

1) the district continues to make staffing cuts.  They are now cutting at STEM K-8 even after STEM K-8 was told in August to hire another teacher.  That is patently ridiculous.

2) the district has not ONCE admitted any fault at JSCEE.  This was no act of God and a little "mea culpa" on their part might help.

 3) Their empathy for the situation facing these schools has been muted.

The Board refused to move forward a BAR for consideration of an expansion of the City's Pre-K program.  Again, there is a lot to report on this but Cashel Toner and Charles Wright gave their usual soft-spoken but quite persuasive reasoning on this but, in the end, money trumped all.  For this district, without any real data on this program and even less money, that's the right answer.

Basically, multiple Board members - Peters, McLaren, Peaslee, Carr, Patu - do not like the 25% holdback of payment to the district for the pre-k program.  They never did like it and now, with this request for expansion, dislike it even more.  There is a range of arguments against it including:
  • "partners" don't do this kind of thing
  • the worry about where the money would come from as years go by.  What staff is trying to say is that there is little worry the district won't pass these benchmarks and that for the first couple of years, a Gates grants would be where the 25% would come from.  The reasoning is that the district WOULD meet those benchmarks and then bank those Gates dollars in a "reserve."  Then, if by chance in future years, they don't meet the benchmarks, the money from the reserve could be used.  That's some convoluted thinking.
  • Blanford acted as the cheerleader for the program saying that it was hard for the City to find the right teachers in the first place, among other reasons.  He also disparaged Director Peters' pointing out of a brand-new study that says that pre-k effects don't last and may even hurt some kids.  It was an uncomfortable moment because while most studies do support pre-k, he was acting like there were none that had the opposite findings.  
Toner and Wright argued that the studies supported "high-quality" pre-k as a way to close the opportunity gap.  That is likely true and would probably be a better argument IF the City was using a replicate program that IS having good outcomes (like Boston).  But they are not.  They are inventing their own and, as Director Peters pointed out, the district has three classrooms trying this and that's enough of a good pilot for both the district.  (The City has their program elsewhere and that can be the broader pilot that they themselves seek.)

The district is not here to pilot the City's work.  Several directors repeatedly pointed out that K-12 is the state-funded business of the district.

Lastly, Director Blanford said  that there is "value in stability" for these pre-k families to know these programs will continue.  (I'm thinking he doesn't realize what the phrase "pilot program" means.  He also missed the irony of who sat before he - a group of parents agitating for "stability" for their schools and its programs.  He is quite tone-deaf on these things.

36 comments:

Angry mom said...

Lord. Will someone with a brain PLEASE run against Blanford when he's up for reelection? PLEASE?

Watching said...

"...that the Alliance did some fundraising, using SPS' name, that didn't exactly find its way back to the district " Wow.

On October 12th, Michael Tolley sent an e-mail to Larry Nyland and misrepresented the city's prek enrollment numbers. Tolley informed Nyland that both of the city classrooms at Van Asselt and Old Van Allelt have enrolled 20 students- each. This is not true. Last check, both classrooms have enrolled a total of 11 students. Isn't it a crime to provide the board and superintendent with misinformation?

Anonymous said...

Fascinating - nice to see some Board members thinking clearly on the Pre-K issue. Now if they could start challenging some of the other assumptions going on at JSCEE...

reader47

Melissa Westbrook said...

Watching, this was pointed out by Director Peters and yes, it was admitted those are the numbers. But Early Learning put on a good face and said those numbers would go up. Well, it's past the start of the school year AND the City has already had two rounds of enrollment so I'm thinking that's just wishful thinking.

But to your point, it would help if one Board member would say, when this happens, "I need real-time, accurate data to help make decisions. I cannot vote for items that have less-than-complete data."

Anonymous said...

Interesting that some things that have zero to do with providing education services to k-12 students may not be funded or might be ending.

Alliance for Education -- not a transparent outfit (imagine that)
Alliance communications expert Jane Broom previously worked for Microsoft and is good at her job.

Seattle Teacher Residency Program has never been needed. Most recent report on Teaching reveals 80% of new teachers continue in teaching for 5 years + and that increased salaries have a bearing on this increased percent.
{{side note: 10% of jobs at American Indian schools go unfilled for an entire year -- will Seattle pay for a Teacher Residency program where it is needed?}}

Blanford is correct there is "value in stability". Now he should look at what the District Mission is .... and decide what needs stabilizing, what needs improvement and how to do it. --- "Stability" could apply to MiF math "scope and sequence" eh? Huge Math opportunity gaps ... a priority? or is "Gap Stability" preferred? Tone deaf?
Is there a syllabus for each grade that uses the math "Scope and Sequence" which is available for parents and is used by teachers?

Excellent that:
The district is not here to pilot the City's work.
(quick let Blanford know this)
Several directors repeatedly pointed out that K-12 is the state-funded business of the district.
... Nice to know, perhaps the Mayor is unaware ... or will he replace the Board eventually?

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Watching asked:

" Isn't it a crime to provide the board and superintendent with misinformation?"

NO. it is a long standing practice... it is a tradition.

Tolley's answers about the then coming "Cleveland STEM option school" contained way more misdirection. Look at Enfield's School Board Action Report on the need for $800,000 of New Tech services for Cleveland. Providing the Board with Misinformation both verbal and written is a huge SPS tradition.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Kinda puts a crimp in The Alliance's Annual Big Ball scheduled in 9 days doesn't it?

We do need a foundation for Seattle schools. One that raises money for the district and cheerleads public education. Although given what JSCEE looks like right now no thinking parent will exactly trust that money would get to the kids. Guess we need a shift in staff in both places.

What we don't need is The Alliance trying to run district priorities out of its office and that's exactly what it's tried to do for the last decade.

>>The Alliance championed disaster-of-a-leader Goodloe-Johnson into our district.
>>The Alliance pushed all things Corp Ed Reform.
>>The Alliance tried to muscle into teacher contract negotiations on the contract before this one. Remember the completely fake Excellent Schools Now group that was largely Sara Morris at the Alliance and Chris Korsmo at LEV?
>>The Alliance tried to push Teach for America into SPS.
>>The Alliance tried to tell teachers how to teach with its stupid National Council on Teacher Quality report that tried to tell teachers their own business. Yuck.
>>The Alliance tried to tell the Board what its priorities are and how they were to act.
>>The Alliance tried to insert its own facilitators into District meetings. Ooooh...our facilitators would NEVER try to steer a conversation. Right.
>>The Alliance demanded speed-dial access to the Super's office. The Alliance badmouthed Banda from the second he started because they wanted the awful Ed Reform female candidate out of Oregon - can't remember her name - and got petty when they couldn't force her in SPS's doors.
>>The Alliance shut down its blog when it couldn't control citizen comments not agreeing with its stance.
>>No doubt the Alliance has also been quietly pushing charters. Too much sympatico with the DFER-LEV crowd not to find the connection somewhere.
>>The Alliance wanted a bigger chunk of change for managing PTA accounts than the last SPS board thought appropriate.
>>The Alliance tried to push a new downtown school to the top of the building priority list when students in all parts of our city are begging for space.
>>The Alliance has its own salary checks processed through the conservative, business-first Chamber of Commerce. See above point.

In summary, The Alliance (aka The Borg) has existed for itself and NOT for SPS, its families and its students for a good long time and the only people likely to cry over severing the relationship are the salaried employees of The Alliance.

The other longtimers on this blog will confirm that this is not a loss. More proof? Read the "statement" from The Alliance posted on its site. Its "talented and dedicated team" is not happy. The best word is sulking. We parents don't have time to sulk. We have to figure out how to get the (@#*@ legislature and !(@*& JSCEE suits to pay for our classrooms and let our teachers teach and our students learn.

DistrictWatcher



Anonymous said...

New Data on Early Career Teachers Finds most remain in teaching.

So why fund Seattle Teacher Residency Program?

The results are encouraging, and somewhat surprising given much of the doom and gloom in the media around “teacher wars,” teacher shortages, and the like. Nearly eighty percent of respondents taught for all five years. Of the 23 percent that did not, one quarter had returned to the classroom within the five year span or intended to return in the future. .....

Teachers who participated in alternative certification programs, such as Teach for America, remained in schools at a similar rate as those who did not. And, as found in prior research, the proportion of low-income students in a teacher’s school was not highly correlated with teacher retention or attrition. The only significant difference was that participants trained by alternative certification programs were less likely to plan to return to teaching after leaving.

Does Seattle really need an alternative certification program like the Seattle Teacher Residency Program? Then why are taxpayers paying for this?

-- Dan Dempsey

Patrick said...

"Isn't it a crime to provide the board and superintendent with misinformation?"

A crime, no. Grounds for workplace disciplinary action up to and including termination, yes.

Anonymous said...

DistrictWatcher lays it out perfectly. Note also that the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Education represent businesses that earn their keep by showing other businesses how to avoid paying taxes using offshore investment tactics. This practice goes a long way toward keeping our public schools unfunded.

They do not and never will have children's educational interests at heart.

-SPSparent

Melissa Westbrook said...

The Alliance letter actually doesn't refute what the district says happened and I was told it would.

It does say:

"The Alliance is, and has always been, an independent entity and voice in support of the children of Seattle."

Well, kind of but when it was created, it was very much going to be the cheerleader and support for John Stanford. That was quite clear. It morphed into something else.

I suspect the Alliance will align with the City and they will try to bring pressure for a takeover on the idea that they know better. We'll see.

DW, at least this action will give the people who do attend that Ball something to talk about.

Anonymous said...

Aww.... we're sorry Alliance - did you get your little feelings hurt? ;( too bad, so sad. Love the image of them as the Borg - hows that assimilation plan working? ;o)

There are just too many other hot button issues on the SPS plate to worry about that one, as Melissa has nicely laid out. I can never quite understand how the JSCEE echo chamber doesn't come to the same rather obvious conclusions however.

Oh, and maybe Dr. Tolley is using "scope and sequence" math? ;o)

reader47

Jan said...

DistrictWatcher -- your list totally nails it. Thanks. I had forgotten some of that stuff.

Melissa -- my thought on your statement: "it would help if one Board member would say, when this happens, "I need real-time, accurate data to help make decisions. I cannot vote for items that have less-than-complete data." -- This has always confused me. I have never been able to understand why, when wrong or incomplete answers are given by staff -- or instead of school reports, there are blank pages for certain schools, but the Board is asked to "approve" the report anyway, they don't just say -- sorry. I cannot vote (or vote yes) until I have the following information . . . .

This week I actually took the time to read the agenda attachment on how the board is supposed to work with the Superintendent and staff, and it dawned on me that these statements are not made because they would be taken (by the Superintendent and staff" as criticisms, or disparagement, or whatever the terms in that document were for "being a big meanie in public."

Thinking about how private boards do this -- a board member would not hesitate, in a private meeting, to voice displeasure (in a civil way) about missing or wrong information -- and then table a vote. But those meetings are private. I guess there is extra sensitivity, in public meetings, about making your staff look like they are devious, stupid, or worse. And -- I guess there is something to that -- civility really DOES matter -- but the answer cannot be to just allow the staff to get away with disinformation, non-information, and generally leading the board around by the nose.

continued

Jan said...

Somehow, the decision-making/governance process is broken. While some of it may be board members who simply don't know how to govern well (they lack discernment, overly defer, and are less than forthcoming with the public regarding their true motives), the bigger problem, as I see it, is the entire method of getting the right information to the board at the right time.

The Board needs to communicate -- either publicly or through the Superintendent, or directly to the staff -- whatever -- exactly what information they need (and that conclusory power points that lack facts and analysis, or that are as confusing as hell, don't meet this requirement). I can't tell at this point whether this is happening and the Supe/staff ignores it, or whether it isn't getting done (frankly, with a better administration, they would be able to figure most of this out on their own, without having it spelled out by the Board, but evidently we are not there -- whether through incompetence, structural deficiencies in staffing, or actual intent to present information selectively to achieve a preordained goal. I cannot count the number of times, in board meetings, reasonable, logical obvious questions on an issue were asked by the Board -- and the answer was -- we don't know; we never looked at that; we will have to get back to you (though they never did in a way the public could see -- or the vote was taken anyway, so never mind).

Then, there needs to be some mechanism (evidently one that doesn't hurt staff feelings in public) by which the Board can decline to act if they don't get correct, complete data at the right time. The Board has the right to get the information from the staff that it needs to do its job -- and the responsibility not to vote on matters with wrong or incomplete information (except perhaps in emergencies where there is no time for better data). There is only so much one can do to hide the fact that a vote is being postponed, or an issue is not being approved, because the staff analysis/presentation was faulty (I suppose they can put everything in the passive tense, so we can pretend we don't know who dropped the ball -- "mistakes were made; support for this position is lacking; further analysis needs to be done -- etc.

And then -- the Board needs to get answers from the Superintendent about how he intends to improve things so that the quality, accuracy, and timeliness of information to the Board is improved.

I must say, though -- if past Boards had not been willing to overlook serious problems with the quality of what the staff gives them in the past, this problem would not be nearly so bad now.

Anonymous said...

Did they talk about math at all?
Frustrated Math

Melissa Westbrook said...

Not at this meeting. I think you were thinking of the C&I meeting on Monday. I did not attend that meeting.

mirmac1 said...

Toner..uh..prevaricated when she stated that the SPP PreK at Old Van Asselt has been working closely with the SPS Developmental Preschool. Ask the teachers.

I'm used to this. Both Wright, Toner, and Herndon (>500K $alarie$) sat there and as usual appealed to pathos and argued THIS was the answer to the opportunity gap.

mirmac1 said...

I was amazed to read in the district letter that Enfield complained about her shoe-shopping BFF Sara Morris, CEO of Alliance (who was conspicuously absent)

District Watcher, that was Sandy Husk.

Don't forget Alliance, along with the city, pushed the whole CBO data-sharing deal. And Alliance was the facilitator of MGJ's Excellence for All or (somesuch) spending spree that pushed value-added measures to evaluate teachers. They're a big reason JSCEE is now full of >$110K data analysts who derived all this motherloving data that management fawns over.

kilngoddess said...

I decided to write Sherry Carr a follow up email. More than anything, I want them to know that we are NOT going away, and I, myself, am just getting started. I mean, criminey, Soup for Teachers™ was just established a little over a month ago. I think we have a bit energy left in the tank to keep pushing.


Dear Director Carr,

Yesterday, members of our newly formed coaltion, #kidsnotcuts, attended the School Board Executive Committee meeting to ask for time from you to address the recent staffing cuts (or reallocation, as SPS prefers to name them) at nearly 1/3 of our district schools.

We understand how frustrating it must have been to have us disrupting your conversations about other things you feel are a priority. We realize the school board always has more on their plate than anyone can reasonably handle. We recognize that you have all volunteered to take on this very difficult job. However, we're all volunteers as well, giving many hours and energy to building a better educational system for our kids. The process through which the community can give input is cumbersome and small. We felt it imperative to force a discussion now.

I do want to sincerely thank you for finally agreeing to speak with us on your break, and to Director Blanford for weighing in. I'm aware that Director McClaren took time with another in our group as well. We especially appreciate that Director Peters and Patu chose to engage with our group, before joining you, when our disruptions made you feel forced to adjourn to the executive conference room. It's very disappointing that Dr. Nyland did not see fit to hear us personally, but not surprising, as I made my feelings clear about the district's need for a different leader in my submitted comments at the September 23 board meeting.

We hope this is just the beginning of a larger discussion between our community, the school board and senior administration of Seattle Public Schools. Our PTAs raise millions of dollars every year to cover basic education expenses and staffing of Seattle schools (more than the Alliance for Education with whom SPS has had a close, although I understand ending, relationship) which the district then lists as grants on their overall budget to show what you're spending on education in our city. One would think this kind of support would grant us a more substantive seat at the table than 2 minute public testimonies and community meetings which are often coincidentally cancelled when it's clear there is a heated issue parents will want to discuss.

Again, thank you for your time and attention. It's been made clear to me by others that SPS has not previously experienced this kind of cross-district community movement. I can imagine it may take some rethinking on the district's part to learn on to navigate. My belief is this is the new reality for all of us. Community members are realizing our strength in standing together and supporting each other, and I look forward to being a part of a growing new collaborative force in determining the future path of Seattle Public Schools.



~ Richelle

Richelle Dickerson
Mom to Clair, 5th Grade
Co-PTA President, West Woodland Elementary
206-390-3842

Anonymous said...

"Toner and Wright argued that the studies supported "high-quality" pre-k as a way to close the opportunity gap. That is likely true and would probably be a better argument IF the City was using a replicate program that IS having good outcomes (like Boston). But they are not. They are inventing their own...."

The opportunity gap has become a universal justification for "Do It Our Way".
What does research show? What research? What were the variables and what controls were in place.

Experience shows central staff is duplicitous.

Big question ... Why are the Opportunity Gaps so large when central office wishes have been (mindlessly) followed over the last decade+ ?

Inquiring Mind

Anonymous said...

Jan said: "I guess there is extra sensitivity, in public meetings, about making your staff look like they are devious, stupid, or worse."

It's not the Board that makes staff look bad. Staff do it to themselves. How many of you could imagine showing up to your own professional meetings with such unpolished, incomplete, superficial and/or misleading analyses and reports?

If they don't want to look "devious, stupid, or worse" they should be better prepared for these public meetings.

HF

Maureen said...

If they don't want to look "devious, stupid, or worse" they should be better prepared for these public meetings.

Yes, this. And, the thing is, they are grownups and professionals. Why do Board members need to tip toe around them and their feelings? I don't mean that the Board has a right to be rude or dismissive, but we elect them to ask the hard questions and to do due diligence for us. We pay the staff at JSCEE to do their jobs. the fact that this is done in public is immaterial. The Board and the staff members all need to do their jobs. How can that be seen as unreasonable?

Anonymous said...

I cannot count the number of times, in board meetings, reasonable, logical obvious questions on an issue were asked by the Board -- and the answer was -- we don't know; we never looked at that; we will have to get back to you (though they never did in a way the public could see -- or the vote was taken anyway, so never mind).

exactly. We've all seen this countless times...maybe the Board wouldn't HAVE to ask so many questions if the original reports were clear, concise and informative....ah but we dream....

reader47

Anonymous said...

"The opportunity gap has become a universal justification for "Do It Our Way"."

Inquiring Mind,I agree with you. If you express concerns at a school about almost anything coming down from the tops, we are informed we have to do this to increase equity. I'm all for doing what we can for equity sake, but it seems to me to be a lot of talk and lack of real research about what can make a difference.
Fed Up

Anonymous said...

Director Blanford doesn't need to look any further for the "stability" he values - he can look at the K-12 classrooms TODAY. Not preK classrooms of the future. You know what's stable? Keeping 25 teachers in place, in 25 classrooms v. pulling them out and having to shuffle thousands of kids around. THAT is the stability we are seeking - and Dir. Blanford should be too.

-nw Mom

mirmac1 said...

"Why do Board members need to tip toe around them and their feelings?"

In my years observing this district, I can say without equivocation that staff has been RUDE to directors. NOT the other way around.

Jan said...

I totally agree that this stuff wouldn't be such an issue if the staff just did its job in the first place (which means (a) having a superintendent that makes it clear what "prepared" means in the context of board materials and meetings (and a board that demands it); and (b) hiring people with the intelligence/experience/imagination to anticipate questions that the Board and the citizens might want to know). It also means caring enough to get complete, truthful material out there. I didn't add this to the main list, because I think that MOST of the staff does care, and most of the staff is honest. They either haven't been trained well enough to know what constitutes good preparation for board presentations and materials, or haven't been given the time/resources to do it. In a few instances though, when the staff is basically trying to "pull one over" on the board -- no amount of preparation and good materials would suffice -- because they are actually trying NOT to tell the whole truth. They are trying to HIDE what they don't know, what they are "covering" with baseless assurances, etc. This sort of dissembling comes up on things like the pre-school program (and the contract with the City), requests for "final" board approval of documents that have not been negotiated or finalized, approval of unjustifiable expenses, and responses to questions on community engagement (when there hasn't been any, and staff doesn't intend that there ever WILL be any).

These egregious examples of staff misbehavior would be easier to pick out and counter if the overall culture was one of competent, thorough staff preparation for board meetings.

Jan said...

True, mirmac1 -- for that reason alone, the protocols for civilized behavior might be welcome -- but again, it can't just be the board that has to follow this stuff. The staff needs to get its act together as well.

I have watched (horrified) videos of schools boards in other districts (usually other states) that have come to shouting matches, where one member has called security to try to have another removed, where people have scooped up contracts and tried to leave -- only to be accosted by others trying to tear the documents out of their hands, struggles over one member trying to videotape the others. Really, it's enough to make your hair stand on end. So I am willing to capitulate to the idea of some "rules" for civilized behavior. But they can't be there solely as a method for one side (the SSD staff) to shut up and push around the other side (the Board). There have to be ways to bring up things on an "emergency" basis without getting staff "permission," there has to be a way for the Board to hold the Superintendent and the staff accountable for their failure to follow rules (materials not provided in time, presenters not prepared, rudeness or refusal to address questions by staff, etc.). The procedures need to not be so strangling that the Board basically cannot get any information from staff on a prompt basis. There needs to be a protocol for getting information through multiple channels (if it deals with negligence or misbehavior by someone who would ordinarily be the recipient of, or copied on, requests), etc.

I do agree that the procedures, as written, seem to be far more about not "bothering" or "annoying" or "hurting the feelings of" the staff than they are about attending to the needs of the schools or the legitimate needs of the Board in governance of the District. Keep your civility code if you want to, guys -- but write a policy that actually advances the districts' legitimate governance and communication interests, and not just your own.

Tresanos said...

I read the procedures for Sup / Board relationships and had the same thiughts mentioned above. Then I thought about it and realized that those procedures don't have any "stick" associated with them. So as a Board member I'd be covil and professional but bring motions/amendments any time I thought it justified. The adopted procedures can't change what state law lays out as Board rights and responsibilities.....

Anonymous said...

Goodbye and good riddance to the Alliance. That's one step in the right direction for the district. Now if only they'd quit taking 20 steps in the wrong direction...

-CT

Maje said...

In defense of the optimism on the Pre-K numbers increasing, I suspect they are right on that one. I'm on my third round of Pre-K in the last five years and each class has gotten bigger as the year went on. For families who have not done preschool, they sometimes don't decide until October, December, even March that they want their kids in Pre-K and so they enroll late.

I can't defend much else on the district's decision to get into Pre-K, but my experience has shown that the programs do grow over the year - especially if they do outreach on the program.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, it does seem odd that the SPS pre-k is full and yet both the City enrolled ones are not.

Lynn said...

The SPS pre-k is free. The city wants mixed-income classrooms and requires families to pay tuition. The schedule doesn't meet the needs of most middle-income families. It's more expensive than the part-time programs families with a stay at home parent want and doesn't provide the full-day, full-year coverage families without a stay at home parent need.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone hear them review the new transportation/ bell times motion at the meeting yesterday?

BT

Melissa Westbrook said...

BT, I didn't go to the meeting, sorry.

n said...

Jan, I think the Board is a little too PC for it's own good. It seems like Sue Peters is tacitly critiqued by other members who have to immediately apologize somehow or other for her honesty. Instead of that, why not support her comments in a professional way? It can be done. One can be supportive of staff and still question honestly and expect honest answers. If staff need to return with more information, say it and expect it. Shouldn't have to be behind closed doors. This need to look friendly to outside eyes is so dishonest and non-authentic. Nobody is deceived into thinking all is well. It just makes the Board look weak. And they do. Especially Carr, Peaslee and McLaren.

@HF and Maureen: staff does it because they get away with it. It is on the Board.