Friday, May 29, 2009

News Release from ESP Vision

May 28, 2009

Seattle parents and students unite with teachers to stop educator layoffs.

Seattle - On the same day Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson will receive her annual performance review, teachers, parents and students will rally and offer their pointed evaluation of district leadership and performance this year, petitioning against Seattle schools’ Reduction in Force (RIF) on the heals of the controversial school closures. To support district educators and children, the Seattle Education Association (the Seattle teacher's union) and ESP Vision (Educators, Students and Parents for a Better Vision of the Seattle Schools) have united their parent-teacher-student coalition to speak up against an estimated 165 teacher layoffs.

The rally is a show of unprecedented solidarity between parents and the teachers' union, making a shift in Seattle's history of education politics in recognition of a shared responsibility to fight for Seattle's children and the future of education.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 3, 5 -6 p.m. rally; 6 p.m. school board meeting

WHERE: John Stanford Center, Seattle Public Schools headquarters
2445 3rd Avenue South; Seattle, WA 98134

BACKGROUND: Seattle Public Schools' recent Reduction in Force (RIF) has laid off an estimated 165 classroom teachers and 59 other educators, sending shockwaves throughout the district and further disrupting a public school community still grappling with the upheaval from the district’s Jan. 29 Capacity Management Plan that will close five schools and dislodge or eliminate 13 essential programs. Cutting teachers will result in even larger class sizes when Washington State already ranks 46th in the nation in teacher-to-student ratio.

"We've had enough disruption with school closures and now we are asking our students to live with the loss of their teachers, who they have come to trust and rely on. It's not the way to treat our children or their schools," says Seattle school parent Dora Taylor.

Seattle Public School has invested more than a third of its budget to hire administration, consultants and buy books, but has shown a baffling unwillingness to tap any of its tens of million of dollars from its "rainy day" fund or interest from its capital account to retain the heroic teachers who are on the frontlines of Seattle children’s education every day.

"Other school districts such as Bellevue have reallocated resources so they didn't have to lay off teachers," says Seattle school teacher Vicky Jambor. "Why can't Seattle do the same? Seattle's teachers and students deserve better than this." More information: www.espvision.org.


Melissa Westbrook said...

The Superintendent claims that they did tap the rainy day fund (am I dreaming that but I think it was a recent document). As for the interest on the capital fund, that's another interesting question.

Roy Smith said...

Bellevue has eliminated 60 teaching positions, but they got there with attrition and by not renewing any teachers on one year contracts (kind of a stealth RIF). They also eliminated librarian positions in the middle and high schools.

ParentofThree said...

Yes they tapped $10.2 million of reserves, and will tap another $10.2 in the next year.

Capital fund, not tapped. Can they do that?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Here's the thing; apparently the capital interest can be tapped for what is called instructional purposes. I'm trying to figure out what that means exactly.

speducator said...

Looks like MG-J has seen the ESP Vision Media Advisory. She has sent Seattle School District staff the following:

Dear Staff of Seattle Public Schools,

As we head into the last few weeks of this academic year, we face more than our typical share of springtime challenges to remain focused. In the midst of all of the change and struggles we face, it is essential that we remember that our most important duty is to maintain effective learning environments for all of our students.

We are hearing of a variety of actions that have been planned for next week in response to the RIFs that have affected staff throughout the district . We sympathize with our students, families, and staff and are also saddened by the potential loss of excellent staff. I hope that we will be able to recall many staff as we get more information about attrition over the summer.

High quality teaching matters the most in student learning, and supporting student achievement is at the heart of Excellence for All. The central goals of our District’s strategic plan are to:

· Strengthen teaching and learning so that we can ensure an excellent education for every student; and

· Promote accountability by measuring performance, so that we can ensure that all staff members are supported and working effectively to achieve our core goal of student success.

Our current negotiations are an important way to advance the goals of our strategic plan and ensure a smooth start the 2009-10 school year. The District’s proposals for negotiations were designed specifically to support these goals by including provisions that will:

· strengthen professional development and training opportunities,
· measure performance, and

· support strong principal leadership by increasing staffing flexibility

You can read more about Excellence for All and our negotiations by visiting the District’s web site at www.seattleschools.org.

I hope that you all have a restful weekend. Thank you for all that you do to support our students success at Seattle Public Schools.


Superintendent Seattle Public Schools

So, what she's really saying is, stay home, don't go to the rally, and don't talk to reporters. The media really gives her a headache.

One line in her letter really puzzles me. How does she plan on increasing staffing flexibility to support strong principals?

owlhouse said...

Thanks Speducator.

I don't check the Strategic Plan often, but what happened to the plan to achieve excellence? The website lists 5 components-
-Ensuring Excellence in Every Classroom
-Strengthening Leaders System wide
- Building an Infrastructure that Works Well
-Improving Our Systems
-Engaging Stakeholders

The PDF lists some of these under "vision" but only specific student outcomes as "goals". There is also a "strategies" section that touches on some of these- including evaluating teachers, but guess what's missing? "Engaging Stakeholders".

Is this a new version of the plan?

I'm trying to reconcile the talk, with the pr, with the plan, with the superintendent's letter to teachers that outlines 2 central goals. Two goals and a double mention of measuring teacher performance in a letter acknowledging the SEA's plan for a rally.

Anonymous said...

What is the "attrition" that DGJ is referring to? From what I have heard, we have 400 new students coming into the district.

Can someone explain that?

seattle citizen said...

Dora, attrition must mean retiring teachers or those who choose to teach elsewhere.
Word has it that not too many are retiring (would you, in this economy and with your investments in the tank?) and it appears that there might not be too many jobs elsewhere, so best guesses seem to be maybe 80-90 educators leaving SPS, rather than the previously more typical 250-300.

I don't know how many educators were displaced by closings/program merges...let's see: five (?) schools closed? Meany, Cooper, AAA, Summit...was there another?
Let's just say four schools closed: 40-50 educators per school x 4 = 200 displaced staff from schools, plus displaced central certs...250 displaced? Which is more than the number of slots opened up by RIFs and the non-continuance of provisional contracts (200 or so) So all those RIF and provisionals would be out of luck.
Someone might try to solidify my numbers; I'm guessing.

Anonymous said...

TT Minor and the African American Academy were closed also.

So how does SPS accommodate the 400 new students who are purportedly joining our school population?

Is there now going to be enough classroom space? Will we have enough teaches or are we looking at overcrowding in our classrooms?

And, with the additional 400 students, what about the counselors and librarians who will be needed to handle this additional population? We've lost many of them with the rif.

owlhouse said...

The SEA counts-
"... 165 classroom teachers and 59 classified staff laid off, with an additional 115 classified positions not filled."

Even if the students at closed buildings/programs could be perfectly evenly distributed to schools/classes that were "under enrolled"- the RIF still equals one thing- a reduction in direct student services.

Also from SEA's announcement-
"These layoffs will disrupt schools and communities, leave hundreds of Seattle’s educators scrambling to make ends meet, and leave students in overcrowded classes. Washington State already ranks 46th in the nation in teacher-to-student ratio and jamming another few desks in the classroom will not help achieve the districts’ motto of “Excellence for All.”

Somehow the District has enough money for 26 project management teams, countless consultants, adopting new textbooks and more, but not enough money to retain the people who actually teach children and provide direct services to children. Moreover, the district has a “rainy day” fund and interest from their capital account that both could be tapped to save educator’s jobs—if it was a priority."

Charlie Mas said...

There will be a rally at the headquarters before the Board meeting. Will they rally, as most do, on the lawn on the south side of the building. Or will they rally outside the Board offices on the north side?

speducator said...

The north side of JSCEE is an interesting possibility. I just think there is better visibility on the south side; thereby creating more attention from the public and the media.