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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

School Board Meeting

Tonight is the first Board meeting in a couple of months. Pretty full agenda but only 10 speakers signed up (including me). As Charlie noted elsewhere, the Curriculum and Instruction committee (more on this later) meeting on Monday had 3 Board members, lots of staff and 3-4 parents/community members. Charlie was the only SB candidate there. I put that in my notes because here we have the Board starting up with work, work that affects many students (they talked about giving high school credits to middle school students and the high school curriculum alignment among other things).

Wouldn't you think that would be something candidates would want to get up to speed on? I'll be interested to see how many candidates from yesterday's primary who are moving on to the general election will attend tonight's Board meeting (besides Mary Bass).

Agenda items include:
-Superintendent's report with a MAP update

- the first public report by our new CAO, Susan Enfield, on the math implementation

- Don Kennedy talking about BEX projects (probably about Hale and the water damage due to insufficient tarping of the building)

-Title One purchase of supplementary materials up to $1.1M for 500-book libraries in all 3-5 classrooms (does 500 seem like a large number for a classroom?)

-"2009/10 Capacity Management Recommendations for West Seattle –
Approval of this item will authorize the district to extend school bus transportation service for students in the West Seattle North Cluster to all elementary schools in West Seattle South, except Concord and consider space in West Seattle South, except Concord, as cluster space available for assignment of West Seattle North students." This sounds like something didn't quite go right. The explanation:

"This would mean that incoming kindergarten students could ride the bus with older siblings who were reassigned to those schools without requiring families to go through the “space
available” process. "

So apparently there was some hitch for moving Cooper kids who had incoming kindergarten sibs. This measure would mean 2 extra buses (which they say would be one year only but I don't get how that could be).

- application for federal money that would be a bond that only the principal would have to paid off (called QSCB by the feds). They want to apply for between $20-40M that would be used under BTA II projects. Great news for the district that this is available given how far behind we have fallen on our maintenance.

-an important item for parents with students with allergies. The Legislature passed a bill (now law, RCW 28A.210.380) that requires the district and parents to do several things relating to a student's allergy. The parent has to notify the district, in writing, of the medically diagnosed allergy and possibly of anaphylaxis. The school nurse, with the parents, writes an Individual Health Plan.

"The principal or school nurse may arrange a meeting (or telephone call) with the parent/guardian
prior to the first day of attendance to develop and discuss the IHP. The plan will be developed by
the school nurse with input from the parent/guardian, health care provider, and appropriate
school staff. If the treatment plan includes self-administration of medications, the plan will
follow Self-Administration of Asthma and Anaphylaxis Medication Procedure.

Annually and prior to the first day of attendance, the student health file will contain: (1) a
completed nursing care plan; (2) a written description of the treatment order, signed by a licensed health care provider; and (3) an adequate and current supply of auto-injectors (or other medications). The parents/guardians are responsible for notifying the school if the student’s condition changes, for providing the Authorization for Medication order, the unexpired ordered medications. The school nurse may also request a signed Consent to Exchange Information related to the life threatening allergy and complicating conditions such as asthma. Even without this signed permission it is understood that the nurse has the right and duty to communicate with the prescribing provider to assure an appropriate plan of care for the student."

Students who do not have life-saving medications can be excluded from school.

"This exclusion will continue until the needed medication is provided or a provider indicates in writing that the child does not have a life threatening allergy."

This was supposed to be done (getting the health plans in place) before school. But the Board and the district are getting it done by next Board meeting (when they vote on it). There are no penalties from the state for being late.

-I will be speaking on a grant from the Stuart Foundation for between $380,000-$800,000 to "support system-wide leadership development". The first year is already approved $380,000 with the second funding dependent on reaching certain milestones.

There are a few key issues here. One is this:

"No mandated match – current district resources cover approximately 22% of the project’s costs"

I'm unclear. We are paying 22% of the projects costs? For professional development for principals? When we are getting $800,000 for the project? How much is this really going to cost?

Two is the heading; Policy Implications: none.

Really? This seems to be a belief in the district that we should all be glad for "free" money and look the other way about the beliefs of foundations like the Stuart Foundation and Broad Foundation.

Kids, there is no free lunch. Anywhere except at your mom's house.

These foundations expect something and both are BIG charter supporters. These foundations call themselves "venture philanthropists" or "entrepreunerial philanthropists". The Broad Foundation says:

"We expect a return on our investment.”

“The Broad Residency expects that school districts will hire Residents permanently.”

You’ll note that word “expect”. Not wishes, not hopes, but expects. You should take that seriously and not be surprised when Dr. Goodloe-Johnsons explains that yes, the Foundation wants something back for this "free" stuff they give us.

I hear that steady drumbeat of charter schools and I just want transparency in why we are building these relationships and what the expectations are on both ends.

22 comments:

ParentofThree said...

I think it is interesting to note which SB candidates appear at these meetings. Can you include that in your meeting summary or as a comment in this post.

I am sad Charlie did not make it, I fear we will end up with another Cheryl and what we really need is a Charlie. I also think Mary is the one to support in that race. Especially if Kay continue not show up to these meetings, as she has already shown a lack of district knowledge.

My opinion.

h2o girl said...

"I hear that steady drumbeat of charter schools and I just want transparency in why we are building these relationships and what the expectations are on both ends."

Melissa, THANK YOU for bringing this up with the board. I appreciate your work very much.

Dorothy Neville said...

Classroom libraries: What's been the outcome of the K-2 classroom library spending? That was also about a million dollars, yes? I thought it was about 150 books per classroom, but it's been a while and I don't recall the details. Two years ago or so, I think.

I saw a list somewhere of what was purchased. Not what we think of as classic kids books, but a lot of simple non-fiction (and some fiction) from more educational oriented presses. I like having a lot of non-fiction available to elementary school kids and think that is beneficial. I do not know how good this selection was nor how well the libraries are working in the classrooms.

I would think that the staff ought to be showing some real data on the K2 purchases to validate 3-5 library acquisitions.

Dorothy Neville said...

Ah, libraries. I see this is just for Title 1 schools, using Title 1 money. I'd still like to see a breakdown of how it worked with the K2 classrooms. Plus, there's an element of training involved. Can we hear from some teachers about the training, useful? Successful?

The K2 libraries. That wasn't just Title 1 schools was it? I thought I heard that all schools got that.

Melissa Westbrook said...

As I mentioned before, I did talk with Wilson Chin I found him to be a thoughtful and bright person. I think his abilities to analyze (as a research scientist) would be useful to the Board. Even though Cheryl backs him, at this point, I feel he is his own person. The fact that he makes helping minority students succeed as one of his top focuses (versus the standard "bridge the achievement gap)makes me think that he does his own thinking.

Charlie Mas said...

All candidates say that they want to improve academic outcomes for minority students and students from low-income households.

All candidates say that they want to improve communications and community engagement.

All candidates say that they will hold the superintendent accountable.

All candidates say that they oppose social promotion.

If asked, I think all candidates would also come out in support of baseball, apple pie, motherhood, and the flag.

But HOW will they improve academic outcomes for historically under-performing groups? Usually they have no answer to that. Sometimes you get some kind of nonsense talk about culturally relevent curriculum, but they can't explain what they mean by it or how it will help.

HOW will they improve communications and community engagement? By having Board meetings in the neighborhoods? And how will THAT help? How can anything other than conversation be effective?

HOW will they hold the superintendent accountable? [crickets]. Can they name an instance during the past four years when they would have? [crickets].

HOW will they oppose social promotion? [crickets].

seattle citizen said...

"All candidates say that they want
All candidates say that they will
All candidates say that they oppose

But HOW will they
HOW will they
HOW will they

[crickets]."

With crickets like YOU, Charlie, sounding your regular call in their ears. Would that that the rest of us could call so persistantly, with such authoritative notes.

Keep up the good work. The chorus might still come (if the cavalry won't)

dan dempsey said...

Count me OUT. I will not be at the board meeting tonight. After 2.5 years of testimony, I quit.

It is apparent that we need not expect:
1.. Data Driven Decision Making
2.. Empirical evidence to be used in textbook selection or instructional practices etc.
3.. Transparency

Too bad that Broad Foundation expects something else:

"We expect a return on our investment.”

“The Broad Residency expects that school districts will hire Residents permanently.”

---------------------
I guess a BROAD return has little to do with how a republic is theoretically supposed to operate.
---------------------

The National Math Advisory Panel Recommendations were not used in the high school math text selection process and the SPS Board has now twice approved textbooks opposed by the majority of the public, most recently as the product of a stacked selection committee.

This is a true testament of the abilities of $100,000 plus elected candidates to rubber stamp anything that comes before them.
--------------
I especially liked the fine example of TRANSPARENCY modeled by Director Sundquist at the first Board meeting in May when he explained his vote for "Discovering Math".

Steve gave the impression that he carefully studied the NMAP recommendations and recited two quotations from NMAP. In the 120 page NMAP report he missed the entire focus of the report but managed to find only the same two NMAP sentences that were in Ms. de la Fuente's powerpoint. These were the only references to NMAP in a 9 month process.
--------------------

As I have said before READ John Hattie's "Visible Learning" to find out how bad this situation is.

Fads and Ideology trump empirical evidence and effective practices.

The only way to bring effective change to the SPS may be legal action. Good Intentions are NOT enough. I am extremely discouraged that Charlie Mas who has incredible knowledge of the district and testifies at School Board meetings and writes extensively cannot get more than 15% of the vote.

I do hope that the next board can do better than the last two.
-------------
Perhaps Susan Enfield can do better than Ms. Santorno.
Here is the testimony I had prepared.

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Josh Hayes said...

Here's a mish-mash:

1) 500 books is nothing. I wondered about this, and went to one of the bookshelves in my living room and started counting, and when I had gotten to 500 -- and I did start on a shelf with kids' books -- I had only covered about 12 linear feet of shelf space. That's one 3-foot wide four-shelf bookcase. Not much. (Come on: we're talking lots of "Nate the Great" books and similar, right?)

2) Charlie, had I been able to vote for you I would have. I can't figure out what people ARE voting for, or on -- what do they want their board reps to do, based on these election results?

3) Dan, don't you dare. You bend our virtual ears six ways to Sunday, you had BETTER keep bending the ears of people who make decisions.

Look, folks, all you have to do is look at that first school bus of the year rolling by. See all those kids in there?

Those are your kids. Those are OUR kids. They deserve whatever we can get for them, and if that means we go to the wall screaming (us, not the wall) about math adoption, then, by God, that's what we need to do.

Every year the end of summer rolls around and I think all I can do is deal with what my own kids need, and every fall I see that bus go by, and those kids look me in the eye, and how can I say no? How can any of us say no?

Thank you Charlie, and thank you Dan, for fighting as hard as you have. I choose to continue fighting. I hope you both (more effectively, I'm sure!) do so as well.

Charlie Mas said...

I went to the Board meeting last night.

Kay Smith-Blum was not there.
Wilson Chin was not there.
Betty Patu was not there.
Michael DeBell was not there.

Mary Bass and I were the only people on the primary ballot for school board who were there.

I would think that these folks would take an interest.

Since there were so few people signed up to speak I was able to add myself to the list right there at the meeting. So if they had shown up they, too, would have been able to speak.

At the end of the update on the Math implementation by Ms delaFuente, there were some questions about measuring the effectiveness of the new materials - as if that sort of attribution analysis were possible. Director Sundquist asked her if there was some expectations or goals for improvements in student outcomes. She said that she would get back to him on that.

I couldn't help wondering if I were the only one who knew that the goals and expectations for improvement in student outcomes in math were printed in the Strategic Plan among the Districtwide Goals.

As I saw Ms delaFuente leaving I approached her and reminded her of that table and those goals and strongly advised against offerring any alternative benchmarks or goals.

This started a conversation that we took into the lobby that lasted the rest of the meeting. In short, I missed everything that came after her update. I'll have to watch the video.

This is exactly the kind of meaningful interaction that you miss if you aren't at the board meetings in person.

dan dempsey said...

Warning: The following may not be the way it is.

BUT here is my view.

From observations of two years ago and Charlie's previous comment. It seems that those who get elected are those least likely to be at school board meetings prior to election.

When I ran for school board two years ago from West Seattle the primary ballot results were:
1.. Sundquist
2.. Ramirez
3.. Dempsey

For the above three candidates attendance at school board meetings, in the 8 months prior to the primary, was the exact reverse order.

I encouraged Maria to run when we were talking at a school board meeting. I'd never seen Steve prior to his candidacy. I thought he was an excellent candidate during the election campaign. Since he was retired I felt he would have time to thoroughly investigate issues and be able to make informed decisions. Since his election there is little other than rubber stamping when it comes to decisions that require extensive investigation to get informed about. Ditto for Maier in my estimation.

There was a time, when many in industry management rose through the ranks and understood the fine points of the company they were involved in managing. In the last 30 years were have seen an increasing preference for M.B.A.s and many leaders move from one operation to another. Note the success of Alan Mulally at Ford after his move from success at Boeing.

Many Seattle School Board members believe themselves to be involved in governance only. It seems that any management is assumed to be harmful micro-management. {I think this is a NONSENSE view and an abdication of responsibility from doing the "Job".}

Of the four school directors elected two years ago {Carr, Martin-Morris, Maier, Sundquist} to the best of my knowledge one had teaching experience or attended more than a handful of school board meetings prior to election that was Harium, who had both teaching experience and prior attendance.

Initially Sundquist questioned whether it was appropriate for the board to be weighing in on Math Instructional Materials selection. He certainly saw himself as out of his field in making any judgments about instructional materials. He just wants to stick to governance but could care less when existing school board policies are not followed and when the Strategic Plan is ignored. If those two items are not governance what is?

The board often appear to be little more than accomplices in mis-management. When the strategic plan is ignored, the board does not care to notice same for violation of board policies.

As Charlie said the "Job" is not being done. It appears the public has little interest in either getting the "Job" done or their job of being informed voters.

I spent only a year as a Seattle resident prior to running. Charlie spent 17 years as a Seattle resident, I expected a better outcome for Charlie and for the children and families of Seattle.

I now expect more "Governance" and little management. The "Job" will likely continue not to be done. (I hope to be wrong about this) It seems that those with the huge dollars donated in 2007 school board elections may prefer not having the "Job" done.

Overall either Wilson or Betty will likely be improvements over Cheryl Chow but will the "Job" get done?

dan dempsey said...

"I couldn't help wondering if I were the only one who knew that the goals and expectations for improvement in student outcomes in math were printed in the Strategic Plan among the Districtwide Goals."

The Board is clearly unacquainted with getting the "Job" done. It is a mark as to how confused this operation is.

The Math Program Manager has little idea of what the Strategic Plan says in regard to math. This is hardly the first time for her ignorance in that regard. Toss in NMAP, the SBE Instructional Materials review, the State Math Standards, Hattie's effect factors, and lots more to items not used in her decision making. I wonder if Susan Enfield can do better?

Who cares about empirical evidence or empirically based research? They use Fads and a misguided Ideology.

gavroche said...

Why does King County hold Primary Elections in the middle of summer when many people are traveling or disengaged from politics?

This is especially problematic for School Board races: the constituents with the most at stake in these races -- families with kids in public schools -- are frequently out of town on vacation or (arguably, purposely) not focused on school issues.

I think this absence of attention may have been reflected in the lack of attendance by the general public at yesterday's Board meeting. (But in no way excuses the absent School Board candidates.)

I also think it was difficult to get the word out about Charlie's, Andre's or Joanna's grassroots campaigns during summer. Even the front-runners Chin, Patu, Bass and Smith-Blum didn't earn that many votes, relatively speaking -- 3,000-3,400 or so each for their entire Districts (with 60% of votes counted). It doesn't really represent a ton of support or voter engagement.

Spring would be a better time to hold a Primary Election, especially for School Board races.

dan dempsey said...

gavroche,

The primary is held when the least permanent residents are at home BECAUSE

King county needs extra time to find and count ballots. Remember the Rossi debacle rounds 1, 2, 3 of vote counting and finding.

Dan

Melissa Westbrook said...

Just to let you know, Josh, in the discussion on this Title One spending for books, the staffer said that it was for mostly non-fiction and biographies and foreign language books (appropriate to the languages spoken in the school).

Gavroche, your observations on the voting is correct. Running for School Board is unlike any other office. If you look at the number of votes, say for Mayor, it drops off dramatically for School Board (and here I speak of the general, not the primary). Why? Because people get tired of marking or just plain don't know. So in SB elections, truly, every single vote can count. And, you have to get fewer of them. So if you get just your friends, co-workers, relatives and neighbors to vote for you, you're well on your way.

glovin said...

I am sad Charlie did not make it, I fear we will end up with another Cheryl and what we really need is a Charlie.

___________________
glovin
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glovin said...

I am sad Charlie did not make it, I fear we will end up with another Cheryl and what we really need is a Charlie.

___________________
glovin
Best Affordable Security Systems Suitable for Renters and Apartments, Business and RV

ParentofThree said...

I posted this on Harium's blog after watching the math update:


Hi Harium,

I just watched the math update and wanted to alert you to some issues:

1. It was said that all performance expectations for each class is up on the web site. Actually, all three pages say, "Page not Found." This has been the case for several months now.

2. The family engagement to let parents know "what this means to my student" has been limited to a very narrow slice of the parent population. ALL parents should have this information by now.

3. And no mention of the college readiness, still looks like it is missing information. And as I mentioned before, the requirements are nothing more that good study habits!

4. They state the the PSAT will help as an evaluation. That is a bit confusing as this test is given in the fall. Will they use it to see what gaps the students have from the prior year and then re-teach?

Thank you for troublingshooting these issues for parents.

Stu said...

I watched the board meeting on tv the other day -- couldn't make it live this time -- and felt like smacking my head against the wall . . . again.

Here's my question: is there any way that the public can make a motion? Is there any way that a non-board member can challenge the rules? Here's what I'm praying for . . . a question AND answer period. That's all . . . not too much to ask, is it?

I want to be able to use my three minutes to ask direct questions and demand direct answers. I hate the fake-listening-let's-get-on-with-it faces that the speakers have to deal with. I want it to be required that, if someone asks a question, the board HAS to answer . . . even if the answer is "I don't know!"

Can't the public DEMAND accountability?

stu

Sahila said...

I want the public to be able to put forward motions - cant shareholders do that in a company? - and I want the public to be able to put items for discussion on the agenda....

There must be a way to do this...

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