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Monday, August 24, 2009

Community Meetings

Wow! All of a sudden everyone is doing Community Meetings.

From the Board Calendar section of the School Board meeting agenda:

District II Community Meeting (Carr), Saturday, September 19, 8:30-10a, Greenwood Neighborhood Service Center (8515 Greenwood Av N)

District I Community Meeting (Maier), Saturday, September 19, 10:30a-noon, Lake City Public Library (12501 – 28th Av NE)

District V Community Meeting (Bass), Friday, September 25, 6-9p, Garfield Community Center (2323 E Cherry)

District III Community Meeting (Martin-Morris), Saturday, September 26, 9:30-11:30a, Diva Espresso (Lake City Way & 80th NE)

So, to be fair, Mary Bass has been doing her community meetings nearly every month for eight years. Harium has been keeping "office hours" at a Coffee House on about a monthly basis as well.

But it is something to see Directors Carr and *gasp* Maier doing community meetings in September.

I don't know what structure these meetings will take, but I presume there will be some opportunity for conversation. Since those extended silences in a conversation can be awkward, here are a couple of things you could ask - just to keep the talk rolling:

The Board is supposed to get quarterly updates on the progress of the Strategic Plan, but hasn't had one since March 11th. What benefit came from skipping a quarter?

Speaking of quarterly Strategic Plan updates, why aren't most of the projects meeting the Community Engagement Protocols? Why are so many of the projects so far behind schedule (district dashboard, science curriculum alignment, performance management, school scorecards, etc.)? Where are the timelines and detailed action plans for each project that were supposed to be posted to the District's web site?

Someone could ask Director Maier if he has voted against a staff recommendation yet. I don't believe he has.

You could ask them if they think that accountabily has been improved in the District. If they say yes, as they almost certainly will, ask them to provide you with an actual example of accountability from the past year. I can't remember one. Ask them if the schools in the Southeast Initiative have met their accountability goals and what have been the consequences of failing to meet them.

I would really love to know how it was possible for the District to report in January that we have all of the space we need for north-end middle school students through the year 2013, and then, just a couple months later, to report that we are totally out of space in the north-end middle schools. Doesn't that call into question all of the data used in the capacity management project? Doesn't that call into question the decision to move 200 APP students into Hamilton?

Does the District want to match capacity to demand? If so, then why haven't they added capacity in the North-end to meet demand? Why haven't they added capacity in alternative programs to meet demand? Why, instead, did they close alternative programs and reduce the available capacity in the north-end through program placement decisions?

Speaking of program placement decisions, why did the Board accept the non-explanation of program placement decisions? Why didn't the Board demand a rationale for each of them? Why isn't the north-end elementary APP site in the north-end?

Ask the board members if they are in favor or opposition to Social Promotion. They will almost certainly say they oppose it. Then you can ask them why they haven't taken any steps against it.

Ask them if they are in favor of equitable access to programs. They will almost certainly say they are. Ask them why nearly every school north of downtown has an advanced learning program while hardly any schools south of downtown has them. Ask them how the new student assignment plan provides equitable access to language immersion programs (it doesn't). Ask them how the new student assignment plan provides equitable access to Montessori programs (it doesn't).

Oh the questions you could ask.

13 comments:

Robert said...

Cool! I plan on attending just to ask Mary what is her best email to communicate with me (one of her district constituents) because obviously I have the wrong one.

(Anyone know if she already held this months monthly meeting?)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mary's monthly meeting is this Friday from 6-9 (but I don't know the location - I'd assume it's the Garfield CC).

Robert said...

Thanks!

dan dempsey said...

If choosing to ask about social promotion be sure to include all of board policy D44.00 and D45.00 language.

Defined grade level expectations and effective interventions are key in this. You see non-promotion by itself is worthless. It is the clear defining of expectations and using effective interventions when those expectations are not met that produce improvement.

OK Teachers in the MG-J class-size does not matter.... differentiated instruction world.... make it happen.

The state math standards were still not the SPS math curriculum last year for k-5 still the Everyday Math pacing plan was the curriculum.

But wait MG-J can not even provide quarterly Strategic Plan updates or provide suitable instructional materials in many areas. Never mind that "Everyone with be held Accountable".

In two and a half years only one board member has shown even the slightest interest in long neglected policies D44.00 and D45.00

Let us all look forward for the Discovering Algebra pacing plan this year.

There is no real plan for what to do with the socially promoted mathematically unskilled students coming to grade 9 this year as nothing below the "Discovering Algebra" book was adopted.

What a crew!!!
A leadership vacuum.

dj said...

I received my daughter's welcome to Thurgood Marshall letter today. Per the letter (and this comports with what was said in the spring), all of the general education classrooms will be ALO. I am not on the design committee (and school obviously hasn't started), so I do not know exactly what it is that is being implemented, but I will report on what the school communicates and what the school is doing. Certainly it would be very nice to have a functional advanced learning program in the area.

Jet City mom said...

Marys meetings are usually held a bit north of the Garfield CC- in a center whose name escapes me at the moment.
I think the cross street is Union.

Jet City mom said...

^ Casey Family Programs
1123 23rd Ave, Seattle - (206) 322-6711

Robert said...

Thanks EK

Charlie Mas said...

I gotta say that I'm kind of tempted to make a morning of it on Saturday the 19th and go to Sherry Carr's community meeting from 8:30 to 10:00 then jam over to Peter Maier's community meeting from 10:30 to noon.

NOTE:According to the Board calendar, Mary Bass is holding her September community meeting at the Garfield Community Center, not the Casey Foundation.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Hey all you SSS readers! Let's join Charlie on this morning trek to Board Directors' community meetings and see what they say. Strength in numbers you know.

seattle citizen said...

Good idea, Melissa.
Count me in.

Charlie Mas said...

Great! Then we could all go to Dick's in Lake City for lunch afterwards!

Charlie Mas said...

I have a couple additional questions for Board members:

* What objectively measurable outcomes that you expect from the [fill in the blank] project of the Strategic Plan, when do you expect them, and what action will you take as a Board member - to provide accountability - if those expectations are not met?

* It is not hard to find a stated goal in the Strategic Plan with a deadline that has passed. There are dozens of them. Ask the Board member what action they have taken to provide accountability around that stated goal and missed deadline.

* Ask them if they think that they have a role - either as a Board or as a Board member - to provide accountability on commitments that the District staff have made to students and families. If the District staff commit to doing something, does the Board have a role in seeing that commitment fulfilled? There are hundreds of unfulfilled commitments to communities listed on Director Martin-Morris' blog. What action has the Board member taken to see any of them fulfilled?

* What responsibility does the Board owe to people who give testimony? Does the Board owe them the courtesy of a response? How many times has the Board member responded to people who have given testimony?

* Does the Board, as the policymaking body, have a responsibility to see policies enforced? If not, then what is the point of writing policy if it isn't enforcable? If so, then how does the Board enforce policy?