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Monday, April 20, 2009

Board Meeting of April 22

Well, well, well. This certainly is a big, important Board meeting coming up this week.

On the agenda are action on such long-discussed topics as:

High School Math Adoption

Revised Student Assignment Policy

Transfer of another $1.45 million to the Garfield capital project

A technical amendment to the Transportation Service Standards (for introduction and action)


Also introduction of high school grading policy reform and the annual Reduction In Force.

There are a number of capital projects on the agenda. I believe that a number of them are related to the Capacity Management project.

If you're going to this Board meeting, I suggest you pack a snack. It's going to be a long one.

89 comments:

ParentofThree said...

This one really chafes me:

"A technical amendment to the Transportation Service Standards (for introduction and action)"

seattle citizen said...

The Reduction In Force request (giving permission to the Supt. to make RIF layoffs and switch admin certs into teaching positions) gives no indication of the scope of this action, which strikes me as holding cards a little close to the chest.
Lay-off notices have to be received by affected employees by May 15. You'd think they would have some idea of how many positions are affected by now, yest they do not even provide a range.

By approving this motion, the Board gives the Supt. carte blanche to make as many layoffs as she would like. I think the Board should have more input in providing direction: what if Supt. decides to lay entire remaining budget deficit on the backs of certs and IAs?

dan dempsey said...

"A technical amendment to the Transportation Service Standards (for introduction and action)"Well this must be an emergency because that is the only time that an item can be considered for both introduction and action at the same meeting.

So how is a technical amendment an emergency? Please excplain that.

ParentofThree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ParentofThree said...

Because the transportation office finally figured out that they since they cannot get the busses to the schools until 3:40 to pick up Tier II students that these school cannot start until 9:40 to be in complaince with the six hour school day.

AND...go check the SPS web site, they have pulled the Start Times info off the home page.

Maureen said...

SPSmom I'm not sure what you mean-- under news it still says Tier 2 will deliver between 9:25-9:35 and be available for pick up at 3:40.

So, TOPS and Salmon Bay could potentially still be in school at 4:00 (since middle schoolers have 20 min longer day), add ten minutes to load the buses and a one hour bus ride to that and the reason they were pulled from Tier One (avoiding the a.m. darkness) is completely negated (unless pm darkness is somehow safer!).

WV is 'zygxhshe' I'm thinking it's a Hungarian expression of disgust and exasperation

dan dempsey said...

SPSMom,

Thanks for clearly pointing out that emergencies occur because of inadequate planning.

Seeems I remember a second grade teacher telling me this was flawed from the beginning. Too bad no one in authority realized that.

dj said...

Serious question -- when did the 9:40 start time emerge? I haven't been around here much lately, but the first I had heard about it was an email from our PTA this AM.

ParentofThree said...

"when did the 9:40 start time emerge?"

Over the weekend it appeared on the SSB agenda.

Sue said...

You have got to be kidding me. 9:40?? What can anyone do to stop this at this point? Nothing, I assume.

Arghhh.

ParentofThree said...

Good point about TOPS and Salmon Bay, not sure how this works for these two schools with the longer day requirement. What to they currently do?

Maureen said...

Now, middle schoolers start 20 minutes early (at 8:55) and all of the buses are supposed to arrive by then. The K-5 kids are supervised until 9:15 (good time to eat breakfast, finish homework--IAs help ELL kids, run off your extra energy outside) when they start school. Everyone is dismissed at 3:20, get on buses (takes about 15 minutes to load) and goes home.

I had assumed that the same would automatically apply--MS start 20 mins before K-5 (so at about 9:20) and all end at 3:40, but I talked to our principal last week (I was trying to write a newsletter article to let everyone know) and she said that is not clear--she was told that they say they may not be able to get the buses there by 9:20 so we may have to stay late instead. Won't know until May.

It drives me nuts because virtually all of our buses already run 2 routes in am and pm. (Some do have trouble getting to us on time--but by Oct almost all are there by 9:00) so I don't see how this will save any money at all. They should have just bumped our start time to 9:05 and called it good. (Ah but then, SPS wouldn't have had "consistent start times" which we are told are so valuable (why was that?)!)

Josh Hayes said...

Zowee, I don't often set my DVR to record Board meetings, but I think I will for this one.

ParentofThree said...

In terms of accountability:

Don Kennedy
Chief Financial and Operating Officer


Is the name on the cover page of the document titled:
Proposed Bell Times
SY 2009-10
March 18, 2009

"Every student achieving, everyone accountable."

He is the person parent should call when their students get picked up lates and/or arrive home late as a result of this policy.

mom of 3 said...

Currently, Salmon Bay Middle Schoolers begin ten minutes before the elementary, and finish ten minutes later. Elementary is on the playground or in the lunchroom before school, and after school can get to their busses or parents without being overrun by older students.

anonymous said...

20 minutes a day of wasted time for elementary age students attending K-8's? That just doesn't seem right. I sure wouldn't want my kid to have 20 minutes of idle time at school every day (even if TOPS is trying to make the best use of that time)

dan dempsey said...

Good to see that although MG-J talks accountability that
SPS Mom is on top of it.

In terms of accountability:

Don Kennedy
Chief Financial and Operating Officer

Thanks.

Dorothy Neville said...

"20 minutes a day of wasted time for elementary age students attending K-8's? That just doesn't seem right. I sure wouldn't want my kid to have 20 minutes of idle time at school every day (even if TOPS is trying to make the best use of that time)"

I waste more than 20 minutes a day.

I dunno, perhaps seeing this as recess and social time, with possible advantages, time to eat or get extra help. Seems like a possible advantage of K8s.

Dorothy Neville said...

Sure looks like it could be a crazy meeting. Wonder if Director Chow is disappointed or relieved to be out of the country?

Perhaps we need more than snacks, maybe we should make it a pot-luck?

Central Mom said...

Adhoc: The TOPS arrival/departure schedule is both organized and highly supervised (including by principal and VP) and works perfectly fine...or did...until the District started mucking with schedules. The elementary kids like the extra 20 minutes of friend, rec and study time.

The school will reorg to meet the new start and end time criteria...but it's yet another distraction, without any real central office support, in trying to focus on its core mission of education.

"One step forward, two steps back"....

Maureen said...

20 minutes a day of wasted time ...I don't see it this way at all. I think that 20 minute transition allows more of the kids to sit down and focus faster once they are in the classroom. Also, keep in mind that kids who are driven or walk to school don't have to get there early unless they have MS sibs. It gives lots of kids a chance to eat an unrushed breakfast, get homework help or to go to the library and get a book. It does take extra work from our nonteaching staff to cover supervision, but I think it's a clear net positive.

I can see the 10 minute before and after working as well--it does tend to take longer to wrangle the little ones on to the buses in the afternoon. It probably wouldn't leave enough time for morning homework club though.

Dorothy Yes potluck, A-G bring salads, H-O bring sweets and P-Z bring over-ripe fruit and vegetables. OH, I can't believe I typed that! But I'll leave it in because you all know it's a JOKE!

Stu said...

"Sure looks like it could be a crazy meeting. Wonder if Director Chow is disappointed or relieved to be out of the country?"

Director Chow's out of the country? Then who's going to sit there, expressionless and bored, and rubber stamp anything that's put in front of her?

seattle citizen said...

A little social "street" theater at the board meeting (in the form of a potluck, and perhaps programs, cotton candy and popcorn....you know, board meeting as entertainment) might be effective:
Imagine a crowd arriving as if for a much-talked about new comedy, the crowd a-twitter, expectant, eager for the show to begin, ooh and ahhing...

SE Mom said...

I was informed via email that there is new link on the district website for rules for the new assignment plan.

One portion in particular has me quite worried:

"Assignment Procedures

Students requesting assignment to an attendance area or option school other than their attendance area school will SUBMIT AN APPLICATION DURING THE OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD EACH YEAR. If more students request a school than can be accommodated, tiebreakers will determine which students will be assigned to that school"

Please tell me that they are not saying students who get a seat at a school outside of their attendance area have to reapply for that same seat every year they are at that school???!!!

Please tell it ain't so!

Dorothy Neville said...

Maureen, (Is that Maureen Yablonski? Woods? Zephyr?) you forgot beverages. Who is to bring the very strong coffee, or perhaps the very strong something else?

Seattle Citizen. And costumes! Shall we all dress like we are going to the Opera? Or in the opera? What we really need to make it perfect is that fellow from the Seattle Children's Theatre that calls "Fiiiiiive Miiiiinutes!" Now that we've moved to grown up theatre, I sure miss that guy.

And the programs could have detailed stats and spaces to keep track of what questions each director asks, were the questions answered, and how they ultimately voted -- you know, like baseball scorecards. A ballot to rate the public speakers? Or maybe Board Meeting Bingo. Prizes?

ParentofThree said...

SE Mom, what's the link?

Maureen said...

The link is:

Draft1: Student Assignment PlanSE Mom quoted from page 8.

Sue said...

SE Mom-

I think it is so. I understand the new priorities of "Attendance Area" schools means, that neighborhood kids get priority. Every year. Therefore, the district needs to be able to accomodate demographic fluctuations in neighborhood populations, so the "open choice" or "lottery" or "Economic diversity" seats need to be able to shrink or grow each year, meaning if you are not in the attendance area, and get in to the school, yes you have to re-apply every year, so that the neighborhood child will have the priority to a school. Otherwise, for a full, popular school, you could possibly use the sibling tiebreaker to bring the siblings along with the open choice students, therefore potentially squeezing out neighborhood kids.

Not the clearest explanation, but this is what the rules look like to me.

Charlie Mas said...

I followed the link and found it.

What the heck is this?

"If a student is attending the assigned attendance area school and the family moves to another attendance area during the school year, the student may enroll in the new attendance area school, or may complete the school year at the current school. If desired, the student may apply to continue attending the current school through the regular school choice process.

Students requesting assignment to another school (attendance area or option school) will submit an
application during the Open Enrollment period each year. If more students request a school than can be accommodated, tiebreakers will determine which students will be assigned.
"

This seems to mean that students living in the attendance area for School A who are enrolled at School B have to re-apply annually for School B - whether School B is an attendance area school or an option school. All of the students at all of the alternative schools need to re-apply annually and be subjected to the lottery annually.

That can't be right.

Charlie Mas said...

Director Chow sure picked a great meeting to miss.

On a Board that doesn't do its job, Director Chow stands out as the Board member who does less of the job than any other.

The Board's job is to be a policymaking body, to oversee the management of the District, and to represent the community.

Director Chow not only doesn't contribute to progress on Policy, it was under her leadership that the High School Math Adoption and New Student Assignment Policy were deferred for two years.

Director Chow not only doesn't oversee the management of the District she actively discourages her Board colleagues from reviewing staff decisions.

Director Chow not only doesn't respond to email or phone calls, she doesn't have any community meetings and she has specifically discounted public input any number of times.

Just as it seems that the only part of the job that Director Chow does is show up, she doesn't even do that. At this meeting, when the Board will vote on so many controversial issues, Director Chow is a no-show.

Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

If the Rule that SE Mom and Charlie quote below is actually adopted, it is one big, gigantic, f-you from the school board to every single resident of the city who doesn't have the good fortune of living in a select set of neighborhoods. If you have to apply for your school and win a lottery every single year to get to continue to send your kid, who is going to chose that option? Those who can afford to will pick private schools and everybody else will be stuck wherever they happen to live.

Relatedly, how the hell do you fill a program like TOPS under this rule? If you have to win a lottery every year to get to go there, then no one will apply. How would you explain it to your kid? How would you administer a school where you had kids for two or three or four randomly selected elementary or middle school years?

Of all the bad ideas they have proposed, this one takes the cake. In fact, it laps the field.

Central Mom said...

I will post this on Harium's blog too...

They are adding standard "English" courses of studies to the International Schools so that they can call them reference schools in the new plan. Then, the schools are supposed to be opened up to more lottery seats to increase access to the International portion of the programs. The devil's in the details here.

1) What will be the target number of out-of-area seats open to lottery placement.

2) Will lottery apply only to the International part of the program (so that you don't win the Golden Ticket but then be told that there is only space in the English portion of the program).

3) For the reference area families, will it be lottery or some other system that determines who gets into the International program? pResumably there will be more reference family demand for the International vs. English portion of the program.

5) By inserting an English language track into these schools, presumably the number of International slots available will be reduced. What will be the net gain of access to International programs for out-of-area residents?

4) This would be a whole lot easier if the District just made all International Schools Optional Schools with a small geographic tiebreaker as is proposed for the rest of the Optional Schools. Neighborhood residents living very close to the school would still get in...and it would mean more access for District-wide families to the International portion of the program. As it is currently proposed, the District is mucking up the definition of Optional schools yet again....

Robert said...

Did anyone see Cliff Mass' blog where he discusses the poor committee recommendation to adopt the Discovery Math program?

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com

ParentofThree said...

I think the problem is the verbage "each year."

Yes each year students who want to enroll in a school that is not their assigned attendence school can choose to enroll in another school. If there is room they will get a seat. After that they are in that school for the duration...but that same process will happen again (each year), for all students who wish to put in for a school that is not their current attendence school.

Maureen said...

SPSmom You're probably right--that is a much more logical answer than the musical chairs the other interpretaion implies. Has anyone emailed Tracy Libros?

Charlie Mas said...

There is no ambiguity in this draft rule. It's very clear that the students at option schools need to re-apply each year.

"Students requesting assignment to another school (attendance area or option school) will submit an
application during the Open Enrollment period each year.
"

If "each year" doesn't mean that, then what does it mean? If "each year" doesn't mean that, then it wouldn't be necessary to include the words "each year" in the sentence at all.

Try the sentence without those two words. Without them, the meaning is clear that students need to request enrollment to an Option school. With the addition of the words, it is clear that the students need to re-submit the request annually.

This may just be poor writing, but if that's not what it means, then what else could the words "each year" mean? What other meaning could they be adding to the sentence?

I don't know what people mean; I only know what they say. And this says that students at option schools need to re-apply annually. No other interpretation is credible.

SpedParent said...

But what if you move out of the "attendance area" of the school? Do you then have to reapply? Or can you just stay at your old school? I suppose it's probably easier to get into most schools at a nonentry grade... but shouldn't you still get a least some priority if you were already a student? Don't you have that option currently(unless, of course, you're a sped student, in which case your lot in life is decided by the local bureaucrat who thinks they understand you: aka the "consulting teacher")

bf said...

But Charlie, doesn't "another school" indicate one that you are not currently at? You only have to apply if you want to go to another school -- whether it be an option school or an assignment school. It's poorly written, but maybe it means "each year" they want to apply to another school.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Mas said...

The reference to "another school" clearly goes back to the prior paragraph and means a school other than the student's attendance area school.

The words "another school" have to refer to a school other than some previously referenced school. The only previously referenced school is the student's attendance area school referenced in the prior paragraph.

Either way, the only meaning that can be added by the words "each year" is that the request must be repeated annually.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't honestly believe that the district wants to require students to re-apply annually, but that's what they have written. If that's not what they mean then they need to re-write it.

In fact, even if that IS what they mean, they need to re-write it.

ParentofThree said...

Exactly BF, "another school", not to "stay at your current school."

Just poorly written, not suprising given in the last week the district had to "recall" an email, and remove the Start Time info from the Web site. Given their current performance why would you think they could execute a clearly written document about the assignment plan?

Dorothy Neville said...

"Either way, the only meaning that can be added by the words "each year" is that the request must be repeated annually."

Or, the meaning is that someone was really sloppy in their writing and someone's supervisor didn't read the draft carefully. How about that "each year" really just modifies the "open enrollment?" Really ought to have said "during the annual open enrollment period."

Because otherwise, they sure got some great software and hardware upgrades and some extra FTEs earmarked, to handle the new volume of enrollment paperwork. LOL. Sure they do.

Why is all this being written at the last minute anyway? How many changes -- both actual and inadvertent -- are there in this document for the vote from the version the board discussed?

Unknown said...

I don't know about the other International programs, but the new program at Beacon Hill had three tracks this year - Chinese, Spanish and English. So, giving a standard English program at BH would not be a change.

dan dempsey said...

The "Discovering Series" recommendation is apparently not liked by almost everyone in Seattle not on the adoption committee.

High School Math adoption testimonies
http://mathunderground.blogspot.com/2009/04/dear-sherry-sorry-to-have-missed-you.html Not one Seattle teacher unless on the committee will testify in favor of it.Six SPS teachers for rejection and only three teachers all committee members for it.

The fact is that no one in the general public testified for the recommendation. Harium's Blog and the SPS Community Blog confirm that almost no one finds this recommendation acceptable.

anonymous said...

A couple of things I noticed in the new assignment plan draft...

Addams k-8 has been categorized an option school along with all of the alt schools. Blaine, Madrona and Broadview are categorized as attendance area schools along with all of the traditional schools. Why?? The district and principal at Addams has gone through great lengths and a lot of PR to let the community know that Addams is a traditional school. So why is it an option school? Maybe, because of the environmental focus?? Not quite sure???

The other thing to note is that transportation costs are probably not going to decrease much, as they will still be transporting kids back and forth and all throughout their cluster or "attendance area".

From the draft "School bus transportation is provided for elementary students to an attendance area school
other than their assigned school if the school is located in their middle school attendance
(service) area. (It is one of the elementary schools that feeds into the same middle school.)"

ParentofThree said...

Adhoc, remember that Cleveland is also becoming a Option school and with the STEM program, I don't think you can get much more tradtional than that. So you need to bear in mind that the term Option is not being used to describe what we think of as "alternative" schools, rather schools that students can select as an alternative to their assigned school.

TechyMom said...

Addams will have a very typical program, except with an extra 15 minutes of everyday math. Madrona has a very specialized program, narrowly focused on kids who are currently getting a 2 on the WASL but might be able to get a 3. It is very far from being a typical, traditional school. Which one should be an Option school?

ParentofThree said...

"Which one should be an Option school?"

Hard to say.

I think the strategy is to ensure that there is only one "Option" school in each region - TOPS may be the "Option" school in the Madrona region. A schools program may not be the driving force behind defining a school as an "option" school or not.

I am not saying that this is the best idea since canned tuna, I am just saying this looks like the direction the district is heading.

Maureen said...

Ironic that they closed down Summit so they could make mandatory assignments to Addams and now they need to make it an option school so they have one in the Eckstein attendance area. Also that Summit enrolled over 500 kids and now Addams is budgeting for about 300.

anonymous said...

Maureen where did you see that Addams is budgeting for 300 kids this year? That's very interesting. Their target was 500 students for the first year with growth to 750 from there.

Is 300 the number of families that chose Addams during open enrollment?

I'm no demographer but 300 just doesn't seem like a feasible number. Summit had 500 kids, and over 70% of them were in the NE cluster. That's 350 kids that need to be accommodated in the NE cluster. In addition many schools in the NE cluster will not offer the extra kindergarten classes this year as they did last year. All of those students will have to be accommodated too.

Unknown said...

Is anyone live-blogging this one?

Josh Hayes said...

adhoc, it's my understanding that enrollment office is still processing the school assignment requests. So we won't know what the estimated Addams enrollment will be until May at the earliest (the school administration will hear in May, but they may not pass that on to the rest of us hoi polloi).

Additionally, I don't see why SPS has to make Addams "option", since the NE cluster has an option school in Thornton Creek. Are they supposed to have an "option" school in all grades K-8?

If they want to relieve pressure on Eckstein, they're going to have to do away with that tag so they can assign kids to Addams. It's going to happen sooner or later.

bj said...

"If they want to relieve pressure on Eckstein, they're going to have to do away with that tag so they can assign kids to Addams"

I don't think they're going to have mandatory middle school assignments to a K-8. I just don't think it (based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever). I think they're going to try to relieve pressure on Eckstein by redrawing assignment boundaries to move more kids to Hamilton, and by hoping that some families will choose Addams K-8 because they don't think they're kids will do well in an extra-large, comprehensive middle school.

I don't think they're going to ask people to apply to option schools again every year. I don't *think* (the *'s mean my thinking is less well weighted on this one) they're going to ask people to reapply to an "unusual?" (i.e. non-attendance school) assignment every year. I think they might consider having people have to reapply if they move out of the attendance area of a school they were previously assigned to based on their attendance area. One could justify that on the grounds that the family chose their neighborhood school, not a particular school. One might institute a reapplication process + a tiebreaker that automatically guarantees assignment (for example, you have to fill out the enrollment form, but the first tie-breaker (or second, if sibling still has priority) is that you currently attend the school).

Charlie Mas said...

There have been late changes in the agenda for the Board meeting.

There is still no information about the "C" level updates.

The High School Grading Policy Reform has been removed from the agenda.

Can somebody tell me why we are spending $16,000 on the roof at Van Asselt if the school is being closed?

seattle citizen said...

Charlie,
Here's the reason for Van Asselt roof work, from tonight's agenda:
"The Renovations at Van Asselt Elementary School and Franklin High School project originated from work identified in the BTA II Capital Levy approved in 2004. As Van Asselt Elementary School has been identified to be closed, the original scope of work of roofing, exterior renovation and mechanical work, has been substantially reduced to only installation of a protective roof membrane. This will allow the District to mothball the school and prevent unexpected water damage as the current roof is in extremely bad condition. Board Acceptance of this bid will:
• Install a protective roof membrane at Van Asselt Elementary School to protect the integrity of the building’s exterior envelope..."

anonymous said...

The board just voted on the math adoption and it was a tie. Debell, Martin Morris and Bass voted no, and Carr, Maier, and Sundquist voted yes. The board decided to postpone the vote until the next board meeting when Director Chow is back. Chow's vote will determine the outcome of the math adoption, and we all know how Director Chow will vote.

I guess we will be getting Discovering....sigh.

Stu said...

I was absolutely stunned to watch the Superintendent outright lie to the board tonight. She said, in her best won't-take-no-for-an-answer-and-I-know-I'll-prevail-so-why-are-you-hassling-me voice, that the "technical amendment" was just adjusting the mornings and was about the bus times. This was about BELL times, NOT BUS TIMES. She said the kids would be boarding the buses at 3:40. That's a lie! THEIR AGENDA FOR THIS EVENING SPECIFICALLY SAYS:

"Approval of this technical adjustment changes the transportation standards to indicate that the schools in the second-tier of busing will have a start time of 9:40 and a release time of 3:40. (I added the emphasis!)Harium Martin-Morris showed SOME concern about kids walking in the dark, based on the "buses loading at 3:40" lie, but didn't challenge her or follow up with the "what about the kids boarding at 4:00."

Goodloe-Johnson must be laughing about this all the way home. It almost appears, with some of these proposals, she's trying to find SOMETHING to which the board will object and keeps looking for more ridiculous things. But they refuse to stand up to her. I swear she's going to come in one night with a "pizza must have anchovies" rule, with an explanation that the studies on the benefits of anchovies will be done next month, and the board will approve it!

Forgive the double-posting of this little rant...I'll be copying it to director Morris' blog. I can't believe he fell for this after all of the comments left on his blog!

stu

Anonymous said...

This was my first board meeting and what an eye opener. I, too, almost fell out of my seat when when Goodloe-Johnson said kids will be loading buses at 3:40. The board pretty much had this looks of resignation on their faces, like they didn't have a choice since it was some sort of contractual issue (which wasn't fully explained).

Stu said...

The board ALWAYS has a choice...they can just say no! Then, someone would have to go back to the drawing board and find something that works. If they had the guts, they could easily revisit this simply by stating that they were mislead about the bell vs start time issue.

Don't worry though, they won't do anything. And I hate to say it but a child or parent is going to be injured walking in the dark and the lawsuit, and subsequent settlement, will be MASSIVE! Particularly since the issue of darkness came up in the public meeting and they just dismissed it.

stu

dan dempsey said...

.... "but something worse: how far we have fallen behind in K-12 education and how much it is now costing us."
-- From Thomas Friedman
in Swimming without a Suit
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/22/opinion/22friedman.html
“The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools.”

For instance, in the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment that measured the applied learning and problem-solving skills of 15-year-olds in 30 industrialized countries, the U.S. ranked 25th out of the 30 in math and 24th in science. That put our average youth on par with those from Portugal and the Slovak Republic, “rather than with students in countries that are more relevant competitors for service-sector and high-value jobs, like Canada, the Netherlands, Korea, and Australia,
” McKinsey noted.
.....There are millions of kids who are in modern suburban schools “who don’t realize how far behind they are,” said Matt Miller, one of the authors. “They are being prepared for $12-an-hour jobs — not $40 to $50 an hour.”----------------------
I mentioned that the SPS math deal has become a disagreement that centers around parents who want an opportunity for collegiate success for their children and the Central administration that denies them the opportunity by refusing to adopt effective materials.

So tonight it became a disagreement with a school board that wishes to prepare children for careers at $12 an hour and parents who would prefer something better.

Thanks to the effective new leadership from Directors Carr, Sundquist, and Maier the kids will need to settle for being prepared for $12 careers based on their SPS math preparation.

Just another day to be ashamed to be an American educator.

Look at the books. Look at the data.

Is this coincidence that the only school board directors to raise over $100,000 each in campaign contributions in Seattle history all voted for "Discovering" which caps off a k-12 ineffective math program, with a mathematically unsound selection that in all likelihood will not be supported by OSPI?

Looking at the comments from UW and University of Maryland Professors who instruct freshman in math and science fields things are getting worse. These three Seattle school directors are apparently unaware of the reality before them. This is a direct assault on the wishes of parents, as well as the future economic vitality of the region.Now we have Cheryl Chow returning to vote. Look at her comments on 4-8-2009, completely clueless. She stated that "Hello" this is not about Pre-Calc and Calculus students, they are doing fine.

Perhaps Director Chow needs to check in with Tom Friedman on that or maybe Ted Nutting. Look at those AP Calculus scores of the Students who take the AP Calc exam.
Do we still have high schools that average scores below 2 on a 1 to 5 scale? Are all the students enrolled in AP Calc taking the AP Calc exam?
Perhaps the SPS should offer the foreign languages of Portuguese and Slovak so SPS graduates can speak with their future economic peers? After all if the SPS refuses to offer internationally competitive math programs why not?Why is it that the district only cherry picks the McKinsey thoughts they like?

And what ever happened to the results of the curriculum audit?

And what about those standard algorithms that are not taught in grades 4 and 5 even though they are in the state math standards?

Now that we will have k-12 math alignment all will be well ... let us not worry. The school directors will act in our best interests as we are to stupid to know what is best.

dan dempsey said...

Discovering doesn’t match the Washington State PTA’s math/science issue statement, which calls for instructional materials that have clear examples and explanations and follow the National Math Advisory Panel recommendations. PTA members voted for this.

Seems pretty clear that the SPS has a major disagreement with the WSPTA thinking.

dan dempsey said...

It would be wonderful if every board member would read Tom Friedman's Swimming without a Suit column and then read this:

http://www.hoover.org/publications/ednext/27151479.html from the Hoover Institution.
As it stands, universities have no way of rejecting applicants who do not know arithmetic adequately for college-level mathematics.

I am inclined to conclude that the 2006 JHU students are not as well prepared as the corresponding group was in 1989, despite there being significantly more competition to get into JHU today than ever before.
------- Hopefully our SPS school directors can connect the dots by the next school board meeting, when they vote again.The SPS has EDM which promotes calculator use at grade 2 and earlier. Thus "Discovering" is a matching choice and parents and kids can wait until college to have a reality contact, when for most it will be too late.

Charlie Mas said...

Some observations from last night's vote on high school math materials.

The presentation to the Board seemed to acknowledge deficiencies in the Discovering... texts but promised a suite of supporting services, such as supplements and professional development. Director Bass, with her "no" vote essentially said "I don't believe that you will really follow through with the support that you promise here. You have failed to fulfill too many promises before." Director DeBell echoed some of that skepticism.

Director Sundquist voted "yes" not as an approval of the textbooks but as an approval of the process that resulted in their recommendation. He believes that the Board should constrain themselves to that role - a governing role rather than a managing role.

Directors Martin-Morris and DeBell voted "no" because they are clearly convinced that the books do dictate a specific pedagogy - investigations - and they are convinced that this style of teaching doesn't work. Director DeBell was particularly clear in his opposition to the texts because they fail to function as a reference. A student cannot look in the book and see how to perform a function - it just isn't there. He was particularly opposed to the presentation of Geometry as a grab-bag of conjecture.

Director Carr, who has been a greater disappointment than anyone I can think of, based her support of the texts on a demonstration lesson she received from an extremely talented teacher. That's nice, but what kind of lessons will our children get from average teachers using a pedagogy which is so completely dependent on the teacher's talent? It simply wasn't representative.

Director Maier gave his approval because the books were recommended by staff. That is the weakest reason for anyone on either side of the discussion yet, with the return of Director Chow, who also serves as a rubber-stamp for the staff, that is the argument that will decide the issue. How sad.

anonymous said...

If you are opposed to the adoption of the Discovering Series now would be the time to write and call Directors Carr, Sundquist, Maier, and Chow. Remember, the board has not officially voted yet, and a Director can still be influenced, and potentially change their direction.

It will only take one more "no" vote from any one of these four Directors to stop the adoption of the Discovering Series. Now more than ever is the time to let the directors know loud and clear how you feel.

And don't forget to thank Directors DeBell, Martin Morris, and Bass!

Jennifer said...

Dan:

"Just another day to be ashamed to be an American educator."

Embarrassed not ashamed, it’s not like the actual educators had any say. Are you paying attention? The district isn’t listening to anyone. Please don’t push the teachers into your over all blanket statements. I work my a** off every day, it has been three weeks of nothing under a sixty hour work week (that’s time in my building not including the work I do from home). My hard work is paying off for my students and that who I work for, not the district.

ds said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ds said...

Charlies said, "Director Carr, who has been a greater disappointment than anyone I can think of, based her support of the texts on a demonstration lesson she received from an extremely talented teacher. That's nice, but what kind of lessons will our children get from average teachers using a pedagogy which is so completely dependent on the teacher's talent? It simply wasn't representative."I completely agree and would add that Director Carr and her family are also not a representative family. There are so many families in this district where parents will not have the time, education, or money (i.e., to pay for tutoring) to be able to effectively help their kids with these materials (not to mention that parents will not be in the classroom with their kids before their kid comes home and asks for help!).

At his Coffee Hour last weekend, Director Martin-Morris mentioned that letters from the "usual suspects" (i.e., highly educated, upper middle class, privileged families) are important but that letters from people from different demographic groups are even more powerful (makes sense). The problem, though, is that if families have enough resources to write letters (or even call) the board, they probably have enough resources to be able to help their kids if they are struggling with math.

The board members aren't hearing from a representative sample. So please write to Carr, Chow, Maier, or Sundquist and take a stand for the less-privileged kids and families (even if you don't fall in this category yourself).

Dorothy Neville said...

"The presentation to the Board seemed to acknowledge deficiencies in the Discovering... texts but promised a suite of supporting services, such as supplements and professional development"New to me. Ms de la Fuente made two promises.

First: to deal with parent concerns -- how do we help our student at home? -- they are going to devote professional development time to teaching teachers how to teach parents how to help their kids using Discovering. Note that this doesn't mean more professional development hours, just that the hours that they were planning to spend on actually working out how to use the text will be cut. They will also prepare a Video and DVD that kids can take home for their parents to watch that will show how to help their child, even if they don't know the mathematics. If this is more of Mr Ellis's -- the kids know the material, they just don't know they know it -- that will be fun.

So, we are now promised a reduction in useful professional development hours for this new material and we have been promised that new money will be spent creating a DVD.

And remember with all the EDM professional development, even having professional development on the new material is a one shot deal. Nothing on-doing is promised or funded.

Second: the wonderful word "accountability" got bandied about. Seriously. I think that it was used about 10 times in the space of 60 seconds. Here Ms de la Fuente promises that we would have outside evaluators conducting surveys and holding focus groups to see how well the adoption works. Well, is there money for that? And what happens if the outside evaluators and their focus groups conclude that the adoption was a failure? Is there money then to replace the texts? She also said that they would measure how successful the participation in professional development is. A rather vague promise and one that is not scientifically or statistically credible. (Nor is the whole Family Engagement aspect credible in this district at all. At all.)

So when Maier said "We've been promised reports, we've been promised accountability" I had high hopes that he saw through the ruse, but evidently his trust in the staff is neverending.

However, DeBell nailed it. "Accountability is difficult to actualize." And the reality that there won't be another adoption for 10 or so years. This is a legacy decision. The "limitations become our limitations" for years, well after all the board members and district staff are gone. He also very clearly pointed out that yes, we are adopting materials and not curriculum, but that the reality is that "the text dominates instruction for all but the most skilled teachers" and we don't have one of them in each classroom.

I think I got the items in quotes correct, I was taking notes. However, go watch the meeting yourself if you haven't yet, so you can write Mr DeBell praising him for his thoroughness and honesty, Bass for pushing for some actual movement on promises in the next two weeks and perhaps pointing out to Carr, Maier and Sundquist specifically where their logic was faulty.

(ps. Did anyone else get the notion that this was staged? They knew in advance that there'd be a tie so they prepared to not vote at all. That's why the whole Robert's Rules on tabling vs postponing came up -- they had specifically discussed the languate they would use to postpone a vote. I really wish they had actually taken a vote, not just a wishy-washy "this is how I would vote" bit, so it would be in the record that it was a tie and move on from there to the same outcome of revisiting it next meeting. I would have liked a more official declaration from each member, an actual yes or no vote. That wouldn't limit their vote next time, yes? But would have held them a wee bit more accountable to voters.)

anonymous said...

I agree with Charlie and ds that Director Carr's experience is not representative.

If a child from a well educated, middle class family, whose mother has been uber involved in her education (volunteered a tremendous amount of time in the classroom, president of the PTSA, and is now a school board director) is "struggling" in math, imagine how the children of less educated, less involved, lower income families are struggling. Think about how kids for whom English is not their first language are struggling. Think about how families with social issues (drugs, alcohol, homelessness) are struggling.

Since 40 something percent of SPS students qualify for free and reduced rate lunch, Sherry Carr's family is definately not representative.

And, Charlie is right, Director Carr was walked through a lesson by an expert, not a typical SPS classroom teacher. That too, is not representative.

seattle citizen said...

ds said,
"At his Coffee Hour last weekend, Director Martin-Morris mentioned that letters from the "usual suspects" (i.e., highly educated, upper middle class, privileged families) are important but that letters from people from different demographic groups are even more powerful (makes sense). The problem, though, is that if families have enough resources to write letters (or even call) the board, they probably have enough resources to be able to help their kids if they are struggling with math."

Extrapolate this to just about any issue effecting learning and you see the problem: there are many, many families who don't have the time and/or skill to advocate or help regarding their child's education.

I'm so glad that Director Martin-Morris recognizes this. Along with a couple of other Directors, the children of the poor, of the single-parent, of the two-job parent....these children have advocates on the board.

Yea!

Rose M said...

Where is the board meeting available to watch now? I missed the last part last night. Seattle channel does not have the video up yet.

anonymous said...

It's "the usual suspects" who speak up, who write the letters, who make the phone calls, who post on community blogs, who go to the board meetings....who get and stay involved. They have the time, the drive, the resources and the energy to so so.

I wish people of different demographics would speak up more, but the fact is they just don't. In many cases there are a lot of barriers to overcome (work, language/culture, social issues, etc).

Maybe the DISTRICT and BOARD need to do more outreach, and not sit back and hope that they hear from people other than the "usual suspects". Maybe they need to go into the community and find out what these families want, need and think.

Charlie Mas said...

I wrote to Director Sundquist this morning and thanked him for his thoughtful and principled position regarding the governance role of the Board. The Board's role is to confirm the legitimacy of the process, not to determine the result.

I went on to say that I look forward to him leading the Board in reviews of other processes, and speaking out stridently when the process is not, in fact, legitimate. I suggested that he could start with the program placement process.

It seems to me that the Board does not want to accept a management role and does not want to accept the role of auditor, which leaves them with the role of rubber-stamp.

dan dempsey said...

Dear Dorothy at 8:36 AM,

I did not view this but a friend of mine said exactly what you said. This was a well choreographed show.

The award for best choreography for a school board non-decision goes to ...

zb said...

"I work my a** off every day, it has been three weeks of nothing under a sixty hour work week (that’s time in my building not including the work I do from home). My hard work is paying off for my students and that who I work for, not the district."

Thanks for standing up for yourself. Every single teacher I know tells some version of this story. You guys are there, trying to help the kids everyday, and so many of us casually dismiss the work done by so many so diligently and with so little reward. Kudos to all of you trying to teach our kids. I respect and support what I do, and try to remember to say so, as often as possible.

zb said...

"I respect and support what I do, and try to remember to say so, as often as possible."

Sorry, "I respect and support what you do", and a pat on the back to Amy, and Michael and the other teachers who post here.

dan dempsey said...

Charlie said:Director Carr, who has been a greater disappointment than anyone I can think of, based her support of the texts on a demonstration lesson she received from an extremely talented teacher. That's nice, but what kind of lessons will our children get from average teachers using a pedagogy which is so completely dependent on the teacher's talent? It simply wasn't representative.My question is:
How well would that lesson fly in the Algebra classroom where 30% or more of the students could not score above level 1 on the 8th grade math WASL?

Any of those kids likely to be absent often? Good luck with the book that omits clear examples, definitions, and substitutes discovery for clear textbook instruction.

Director Sundquist needs to investigate the process that produced this decision .... since he won't base his thinking on the defective outcome of the process.

SE Mom said...

What happened at the board meeting in respect to the new assignment plan? I want to know and I don't want to know - this whole process gets more and more painful to watch.

dan dempsey said...

Charlie said:
The presentation to the Board seemed to acknowledge deficiencies in the Discovering... texts but promised a suite of supporting services, such as supplements and professional development. Director Bass, with her "no" vote essentially said "I don't believe that you will really follow through with the support that you promise here. You have failed to fulfill too many promises before." Director DeBell echoed some of that skepticism.
Obviously these two directors remember the promises made on May 30, 2007 .... not recorded and not fulfilled.

dan dempsey said...

Abby G is absolutely correct:

"Just another day to be embarrassed to be an American educator."

I made a poor word choice in the wee hours and I apologize.

SP said...

http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/watchVideos.asp?program=schools

The 4/22 streaming video is now posted on the school board's homepage (at the bottom). Thanks to the efficient work at the Seattle Channel for this!

dan dempsey said...

Abby G. rightly took me to task for giving any indication that the Central Administration or School Board listen to anyone.

So a BIG Whoa there on this thought process..
Maybe the DISTRICT and BOARD need to do more outreach, and not sit back and hope that they hear from people other than the "usual suspects". Maybe they need to go into the community and find out what these families want, need and think.Does anyone really believe that the district uses outreach to learn anything on most issues? Does the district want to learn anything on most issues? Clearly Abby G. thinks NO and probably most of Seattle thinks the same.

If there was outreach it likely would be to propagandize "pre-made decisions". Do we really need more of that?

Aren't the televised school board meetings largely propaganda?

SolvayGirl said...

For those of us who do not have cable, is there a way to read a transcript of the meeting? I too am curious about the new student assignment plan. DId anyone clarify the language concerning students enrolled outside their "reference" school? WIll they really have to reapply every year?

seattle citizen said...

Solvay,
It's not on cable - it's on the internet. If you have a computer capable of running video, you can watch it.

Go to
http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/watchVideos.asp?program=schools
as Seattleparent indicated, and you'll find the video to watch on your computer. Ain't modern technology great?!

SolvayGirl said...

Thanks Seattle Citizen...computers I've got!

Dorothy Neville said...

Well, it is on cable, but not on demand. :)

A couple other things.

Ricki Malone spoke out about kids who have been displaced but do not fall under a design team umbrella. MGJ's update on closures seemed to skirt this and only talk about design teams. I do not know enough to know for sure. Are there kids falling through the cracks with respect to appropriate attention to their needs as displaced students?

And the short answer to the assignment plan vote, there was no discussion of the details or wording, just that they voted to adopt the high level policy. (sure, right when they were also jarred with the "technical amendment" emergency intro/adoption bit on school times because they didn't have enough data to make a proper informed decision the first time. And there wasn't even any staff available to answer questions. Just MGJ's sighing and irritated attitude that this was just a technical thing about ten minutes, no big deal.)

Megan Mc said...

The as1 kids that lost their transportation are not being supported.

Another Mom said...

Please write your Board members and request that they bring the "Transportation Standards" back for a vote and they do not accept the standards without seeing an evaluation of bus drop-off times vs. sunset/twilight times.

The Superintendent not only neglected to directly answer Director Harium Martin-Morris' question about afternoon bus times running into dusk, but actually misstated the item as bus times, not bell times, prior to the vote. No staff was present to introduce the item or to answer questions.

Safety of children should come first and foremost and just shouldn't be up for negotiation. In an effort to keep the K-8 children from walking in the dark in the a.m., the K-5 children will now be walking home in the dark in the p.m. Children with a bus ride of 45 min or more will be coming home in the dark from mid Nov. to mid Jan. Not only will it be dark, but it will be at peak traffic times.

This is not a minor issue and for the Superintendent to make light of it is reprehensible. When will common sense prevail?

It was "just" 10 min when the time was proposed as 9:15, then "just" 10 min when changed to 9:25-9:35, then "just" 10 min when it was moved to 9:40. It is now 40 minutes total. Look at sunrise/sunset times in Seattle and you will see why the 9:00-3:00 timeframe works for the safety of elementary kids.

Thank you Harium for voting No.