Wednesday, March 15, 2017

School Board Meeting Tonight

There are a couple of items on the agenda to note.
1) Public testimony is full and "ethnic studies curriculum" dominates the roster, including teacher, Jon Greenberg and former school board director, Marty McLaren.

A Facebook group around this topic said they would have a "rally" during the Board meeting.  I'm thinking they mean holding signs.  I'm sure it will be lively.

2) There are also two people who will speak to a budget transfer that is to happen in capital funds for "energy efficiency projects." 

This Board Action would transfer $1,595,632 in funding using the oldest unallocated levy funds first, from BEX II and BEX III capital program underspend, to create a project budget for the implementation of an energy efficiency project at six schools utilizing solar technology.  
This involves a grant from the Department of Commerce for $500,000 and would include nearly $150K in sales tax rebate from the State as well as $50K from Hazel World K-8 PTSA.  It would involve six schools - Arbor Heights, Hazel Wolf, Ballard, Bailey Gatzert, Denny and South Shore - and the district says the "annual savings would provide a positive cash flow." 

I don't have any problem in general with this kind of spending.  What I do have a problem with is the idea that there is STILL cash flow from older BEX projects.  To me, this BAR says there are no other maintenance/capital issues in any school throughout the district so this is a good use of the money.

We all know that is not a true statement and yet I'm sure the Board will go right along with this project. 

3) Also of interest is the "announcement of completed Internal Audit."  As you may know, the district does regular audits of schools.  In this round of audits, Rainier Beach High School was one of them.  There had been several findings, one of which needed some follow-up.  From the Audit & Finance minutes:
Mr. (Andrew) Medina explained school audits are part of the internal audit annual plan, but Rainier Beach High School was selected for an audit because there were several complaints regarding untimely payments to vendors.
Director Peters asked how often is the fiscal specialist available or not available. Mr. Medina explained he was unable to determine that.
Mr. Medina explained if the procedures are not being followed, it would be put in his report as a recommendation.
Mr. Medina spoke about a finding related to the use of school facilities. Outside groups were allowed to use the school’s facilities in exchange for a donation, rather than following the District’s proper building rental procedures. Mr. Medina indicated that additional analysis would be necessary to determine if all donations received in exchange for using the school’s facilities were actually deposited with the school’s fiscal office. 
Specifically, the report noted that the School did not follow District policies and procedures related to building rentals. It allowed outside groups to use its gymnasium without complying with the District’s facility rental requirements. Outside events were incorrectly categorized as internal girls’ basketball team events on the District’s official facility usage calendar. As a result, the event was considered to be rent-free when in fact rent should have been charged to the outside groups. In lieu of paying the established rental fees to the District’s Building Rentals Department, the outside groups made donations to the School’s girls’ basketball team. We noted instances in which the donations were deposited in to the team’s ASB account, however additional analysis was deemed necessary to determine if it contains all donations that were received by the School.
Here's that "additional analysis."
Based on the results of the audit procedures performed, there is no evidence that the school received any donations that were not deposited into the school’s ASB Fund. We cannot determine the exact dates that the school’s facilities were used by outside organizations; however, we did determine that all known instances have been properly deposited. We also confirmed that the initial finding noted in our audit report dated December 13, 2016 is accurate, and we recommend that the District implement the corrective actions recommended in that report.
And in the "c'mon" category, this again about the use of school gyms? What makes some school principals think that the school's gym is their own personal moneymaker for their school?

 I do believe that whatever funds are generated by rental of school rooms, a percentage should come back to the school. I don't think that is currently in place.

But when you have slipshod handling of funds and principals deciding where the money goes (in this case, ASB, a worthy place for it to go), you open the district up for liability.


Wondering said...

Have those pushing ethnic studies done a complete analysis of district curriculum?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't know but perhaps we'll learn more in the public testimony tonight.

Anonymous said...

District curriculum?


Anonymous said...

The though of Jon Greenberg replicating his class and forcing every high schooler to take it makes me very unhappy.
-I hope other are watching

Anonymous said...

(double posting from Open thread)

The thread on the ethnic studies proposal now includes a link to an online (authorless) petition. The wording of the petition makes one wonder what is really intended with the "ethnic studies" initiative. Is it intended to provide balance and diversity to humanities courses, which newer texts have increasingly been doing, and many teachers are already providing? Or is it to teach White privilege - White vs Others/POC (what Pacific Education Group teaches to SPS staff) - at the cost of not learning the history that would provide the perspective for such discussions?

We're at the point where teaching Dickens (white male) is considered bad, even though his writings include themes of poverty, class and privilege. In a recent interview with Drego Little, a literature teacher working with Rainier Scholars, he remarked that Oliver Twist is "more about kids in the hood than it is about kids in privileged neighborhoods in North Seattle. But because it's Dickens and has 'fancy' vocabulary we tend to think it is not about the kids of color in South Seattle." His closing comment is we need teachers who can "acknowledge and celebrate deep human truths that exist in every culture." In an older radio segment, they check in with Little's class as they read Romeo and Juliet.

Without more clarity around what constitutes "ethnic studies" and how it is to be incorporated, how can the Board make an informed vote? As a previous poster asked, where are schools in incorporating "Since Time Immemorial" curriculum?

-info please

(I did not see an Introduction or Action item on the agenda for the ethnic studies proposal. Are speakers asking for it to be on the Board Agenda in the future?)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Info, there has been discussion at the C&I committee meetings and I think it's a push tonight for the Board to do something.

Bubba said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Any mention of the levy cliff extension and additional allocations to schools?

N by NW

Anonymous said...

Board meeting is now available online.

The OSPI Highly Capable report was removed from the consent agenda over questions about a mentorship program (item moved to action item). Director Harris asked specifically about "where we maintain we have a mentorship program" - related to Ingraham IBX? Tolley and Wyeth (?) came to the podium but didn't provide much info. Public testimony starts around 1:25. Lots of student speakers, with two students speaking in support of Middle College (one before consent agenda and one at beginning of public testimony), and several speaking in support of ethnic studies (some were listed for Rainier Beach Renovation but ceded their time and discussed ethnic studies).

A past SPS student commented she didn't learn about Japanese internment and Chinese exclusion as part of her studies K-12. What?? That is simply a failing of SPS to teach basic US history. This initiative is showing how undefined SPS has allowed their curriculum to be. Another speaker ceded their time to Hagopian, who talked about a "whitewashed" curriculum. Is the problem that the curriculum is "whitewashed" or that there simply is no defined curriculum? Or both? When we expressed concern that our children were not learning basic history in the classroom, from the Civil War to the Trail of Tears to the Chinese Exclusion Act - topics I learned way back when I was in school - our concerns were dismissed. What are they teaching?? You have to wonder what's really going on. Marty McLaren talked about White privilege, institutional once again, what does it mean when we say "ethnic studies?"

what's up?

Anonymous said...

And one more thought...Betty Patu thanked the students and commented "many years ago we did have ethnic studies in our school system, so I don't know what happened today, but hopefully it will be something...we bring it back to our curriculum..."

what's up?

Anonymous said...

Why don't they just make sure our history/social studies curriculum is halfway decent, and that teachers cover the expected topics? It's not rocket science. And seriously, if they can't get teachers to cover the basics in apparently inadequately defined social studies classes that lack solid curricula, why would that be any different in inadequately defined ethnic studies classes that lack solid curricula?


Anonymous said...

San Francisco Unified School District's Ethnic Studies units:

* Identity and Narrative
* Systems and Power
* Hegemony and Counterhegemony
* Humanization and Dehumanization
* Causality and Agency
* Transformation and Change

Suggested readings include Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Zinn's Young People's History of the United States, along with readings from Ta-Nehisi Coates.

-google it

Anonymous said...

Link to video of School Board meeting of March 15, 2017

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Jesse Hagopian at 1:53:45 in the video of March 15, 2017.

Jesse ends at 1:56:00

School Board meeting video is 3 hours long.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

More on ethnic studies proposal from Seattle Weekly (1/18/17):

-google it

Anonymous said...

They want "a mandatory ethnic studies curriculum."

But, they say, that "doesn’t mean adding an extra class on, say, Chicano literature or the Black Panthers. integrating nonwhite cultures and perspectives into every class." The article says they want "a complete reshaping of the curriculum, how we’re teaching every subject.” And they acknowledge “that’s a hard thing to do.”

And how exactly do you reshape a nonexistent curriculum, anyway? Is there a set LA curriculum at each grade level? No. Are teachers using the same books for SS? No. I suppose they could mandate that a certain set of books be covered in each grade, but wouldn't they also need to make sure those books are a good fit with what's currently covered (e.g., that if it's a US History class, the ethnic studies component is also US-related)?

This should be interesting. Actually, it could be great! In doing the prep work needed to make this effort successful, they'll need to figure out exactly what is currently being covered in each and every class at each school and each grade level, and which texts (and internet videos and such) are forming the curricula now. Then, they can reshape it as needed to be more diverse and comprehensive in presentation. Awesome--we'll finally be able to find out who's teaching what!


PS - Or maybe they should get in line. HCC was promised a middle school curriculum years ago and is still waiting. If there's time to wade through all this and reshape the entire curriculum to support ethnic studies, surely there's time to finally deliver on the much smaller HCC curriculum promise.

Anonymous said...

Pedagogy of the Oppressed, embraced by many teachers to be and on the reading list for SF's ethnic studies, speaks against education as a "banking" activity. Accumulation of factual knowledge = bad; constructed knowledge = good. "Sage on the stage" = bad; "guide on the side" = good. SPS fully embraces these ideas and I suspect a reworking of the curriculum would be about more than adding diversity of perspectives. True diversity of perspectives would not have a teacher proclaiming "that they will not be talking about white contributions in her [6th grade ancient world history] class." (Seattle Weekly)

Given the current lack of a defined, grade by grade curriculum (standards are not curriculum!), I doubt we'll see much change. Teachers will continue to teach or not teach the standards, as they please and with little oversight, and content knowledge will continue to be dismissed as boring, low level, rote memorization.