Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuesday Open Thread

The Board has put up - less than 48 hours before the Board meeting - a rather short narrative for the Superintendent's evaluation.   They reference the rubric document as well and it's an odd thing to see someone get a raise when he is ranked only "Basic" in some categories.  I look forward to the tortured explanations from the Board tomorrow night as to why he deserves a raise and contract extension.

The weather is wild out there today ; in Shoreline, a tree dropped on a city bus. The bus driver had to go to the hospital and was the only person on the bus.  Good karma to all our students as they make their way home today from school.

The numbers are in from one state - Colorado - on their opt-outs of their state test (PARCC).  From Chalkbeat Colorado:

More than 65,000 Colorado students were held out of last spring’s PARCC tests by their parents, according to newly released data that for the first time documents the strength of the so-called opt-out movement in the state.

Roughly 1 in 10 Colorado students skipped the math and English assessments as a result of parent refusals.  While test participation by elementary school students exceeded 95 percent, student opt-out rates reached 31 percent on 11th grade math tests and 25 percent on all 10th grade math scores.

Speaking of opting out, here's the state-mandated opt-out letter from Oregon's Department of Education.  The paragraph in bold on page two is a good example of guilt-inducing heavy-handedness.

Here's a student data mistake you don't want to see happening ( from KATU):

 Would you want your neighbors to know if your child was on a free or reduced lunch program at school? The Beaverton School District accidentally posted a map so you could figure it out if you wanted to.
The map is part of the Boundary Review Committee's analysis as it looks at the best ways to address high school boundary changes in Beaverton.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

That performance review doesn't exactly scream "give him a raise" beyond perhaps cost of living. Kind of an "A for Effort" kind of thing, instead of judging him on real results. I'm sure there is a lot that isn't public, but for the money he's being paid, the standards should be high.


Watching said...

It is time for the board to think differently. The board should be offering retention bonuses, and not raises.

I would also like to see the state withhold retirement benefits until a superintendent has been in a district for five years.

The rate of superintendent turnover is high and is too easy for a superintendent to walk. With-holding raises and retirement is an opportunity to assure superintendents are vested in districts.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Watching, I think what you state is entirely reasonable. I would have preferred a performance bonus rather than a raise.

GarfieldMom said...

I agree, Watching. If the goal is stability, then retention bonuses are the way to go, not raises and contract extensions.

Here is another winner from the BAR:

"This action creates no additional contractual obligations for the District beyond one year because the Employment Agreement continues to contain a one-year termination clause."

True enough. Funny though that the superintendent only has to give six months' notice if he decides to resign or retire. A contract extension doesn't ensure that he will be here until June 2018 if he decides he doesn't want to be. A guy who came out of retirement for this gig might be more inclined to get fed up and go back into retirement if the new board doesn't find him quite as "proficient" as the outgoing board does. And he has no incentive not to walk away, he's already got the raise!

By the way, I've been reading archives from MGJ's time -- recall that she got quick raises too, and contract extensions. Sharon Peaslee blamed the financial losses of having to buy out MGJ's contract on her opponent's vote to extend MGJ's contract. Now Peaslee wants to saddle the next board with her vote to extend Nyland's. Sherry Carr voted three times for contract extensions for MGJ, and twice for raises. The language used in MGJ's evaluation, delivered by Steve Sundquist, sounds a lot like Nyland's evaluation as written by Sherry Carr. I'm not saying Nyland is as bad as MGJ (at least there's nothing illegal happening yet, that we know of), but the willingness to throw support based on vague praise behind him in spite of specific negative feedback coming from parents and teachers is so familiar.

Anonymous said...

I guess I just don't get it. When you read the comments on the eval document, its just so ordinary, so doing the bare minimum (with exception of Bell Times where he gets big kudos). I can't find anything here that merits a raise to what is already an very large number. There are so many better and more urgen ways, as others have demonstrated, for these funds.

"support based on vague praise" - like that line GM


TechyMom said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Watching said...

I'm not seeing a penalty clause in the contract. It appears, if the super wanted to leave before the terms of the contract expire...there is nothing to stop him.

If the board wanted stability, they should include a penalty for breaking terms of contract- and retaining bonus until the end of the contract.

Banda left with very short notice and he did not suffer repercussions. I see nothing that would prevent the same thing from happening, here.

With the exception of Peters and Blanford, this is the same board that hired Banda and they are making mistakes.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sorry, TechyMom, I forgot this was the open thread. Please re-post.

Anonymous said...

District notice put out that parents aren't crazy and complaints are valid. Advanced learning test scheduling is a mess. At least they owned it which in a very small way is a step although a teeny weeny one in the right direction.


Anonymous said...

But don't worry. The scheduling is totally screwed up but their testing results are perfect every time. No need to appeal because they are pros who know what they're doing.

Fairmount Park

Watching said...

"By the way, I've been reading archives from MGJ's time -- recall that she got quick raises too, and contract extensions. Sharon Peaslee blamed the financial losses of having to buy out MGJ's contract on her opponent's vote to extend MGJ's contract. Now Peaslee wants to saddle the next board with her vote to extend Nyland's."

True. It was hard to believe that the district had to pay MGJ $300K. She left district operations in shambles, an audit with 12 findings and a scandal. It is worth noting that Nyland hasn't been kind to teachers. He threatened to take away teaching certificates, failed to negotiate a teacher contract and the board majority provided him with a vote to file an injunction against the teachers.

The district provided the board with misinformation regarding the closure of Middle College. Mysteriously, the closure of Creative Approach schools appeared within the Collective Bargaining Agreement. To me, there seems to be an attempt to dismantle alternative forms of education.

I do agree that Nyland has done some good things. The contract needs to be strengthened.

Watching said...

"This action creates no additional contractual obligations for the District beyond one year because the Employment Agreement continues to contain a one-year termination clause."

There have been issues with transparency and misinformation within the district. The district told the board that they would have the opportunity to vote on the prek service contract. Then, the board was given the option of accepting city dollars and allowing the superintendent to vote on the prek contract.

It appears, to me, that if issues of transparency continue, the board would have to provide the superintendent with a severance package for his departure. A weak contract and a departing gift from the out-going board.

TechyMom said...

Neat: Hour of Code tutorial using Minecraft.

Anonymous said...

What's the latest on MIF and the evolving scope and sequence?


mirmac1 said...


I will say that Nyland has had a track record of about 70% with systemic Sped issues placed before him. Unfortunately, the SpEd PTSA does not have the resources to bring every in-compliant policy issue before him. As it stands he has: taken out obnoxious language with respect to nondiscrimination in extracurricular activities; got rid of English (ga-zing!); brought an actual "civil rights" compliance officer on board; and, retracted in-compliant language in proposed 2016 Transportation Standards.

Of course there are many more egregious issues to resolve; non-the-least the blatant inequity between SPS City preschools and those offered to the children SPS MUST serve - preschoolers with disabilities. On this I will not relent.

Emergent SpEd issues come every day; more than the PTSA can keep apace. I feel he is salvageable and refuse to ditch him without a better alternative.

Anonymous said...

The district sent out conference materials to teachers that they can choose to give parents or not that outlines the scope and sequence and links to MIF chapters that teachers may or may not follow. There is a different handout for each grade level.

Here's the main message on each grade level followed by the scope and sequence and reference to MIF chapters: "Our Math in Focus text is the primary instructional tool. Our curriculum follows College and Career Readiness Standards (Common Core). Based on these goals teams of district teachers developed units that often build on one another for standards mastery even when Math in Focus chapters do not exactly match that progression. For this reason, our Math in Focus chapters may not be taught in order."

It sounds so simple, but really the chapters being out of order does not make sense in most grade levels. The good news is that some schools are being allowed to use MIF as designed even though it is past waiver time. My understanding is that if the school complains enough, the math dept is letting you use MIF instead of the scope and sequence.
Frustrated Math

Charlie Mas said...

The District staff love to play the nomenclature game. They define and re-define the terms as they wish. When it suits their interests they say that "instructional materials" are simply a resource for teachers and that it does not dictate "pedagogy" or "instructional practice", and that it is not "curriculum". But then, when it suits their purposes, they say that "instructional materials" must be used with fidelity to a specific "instructional practice" or in accordance with a District-approved "scope and sequence".

Is it too much to ask them to adopt a glossary and stick to it? I would like to see Michael Tolley and Shauna Heath define their terms, once and for all, and then speak and write with precision without re-defining those terms with every document. The meaning of words is entirely too fluid for my taste.

I would really love to see permanent definitions for these terms: instructional materials, textbooks, curriculum, Standards, scope and sequence, academic freedom, differentiated instruction, instructional practice, instructional strategy, direct instruction, project-based learning, equity, access, formative assessment, summative assessment, diagnostic assessment, program evaluation, school, school building, program, service, curricular focus, option school, service school, general education, bilingual education, special education, Spectrum, ALO, Least Restrictive Environment, typically developing peers, community engagement, international education, and language immersion.

I'm sure there are many more examples of jargon that needs a fixed definition.