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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Interesting Community Meetings with Board Members

I attended two community meetings with Board members this weekend. I stopped in first at Sherry Carr's meeting and there were about 5 people there. They were first talking about Memorial Stadium so I was, of course, happy because it is an issue that matters to me. I was able to put in my plug for (1) not giving away the farm and (2) protecting the integrity of the Memorial Wall. (The MOU is up at the website and I'll start a separate thread on it.)

Then a mom spoke about her concern over the new PE plan to measure the BMI of every SPS child starting in 3rd grade. She said that she had concerns over it being hurtful and detrimental to children and that this needs evidence-based research on why we would do it as a district. She stated that PE teachers are not health-care providers and really don't have a good way to communicate to either parents or students about the measurements. And, she pointed out how much time it would take to measure and record every student (thus taking time away from actual PE activity). Sherry was very on-board with this concern. She stated that one of her own daughters had eating issues and felt that it could hurt boys and girls who have eating issues and/or body issues. She promised to look into it and bring it to the Curriculum and Instruction Committee meeting. Also, Gary Sievert, an SPS parent and member of the Seattle Council PTSA Board, mentioned that as a volunteer volleyball coach, he was finding it difficult to understand when and how PE waivers are granted for outside sports or club sports. Sherry agreed that this is a vaguely worded issue and promised to look into it as well.

I also saw a sheet about the McDonald parent group. Here's some info at their blog if you are interested. They have a survey going that needs to be done by December 14th. As well, they also have a Yahoo discussion group. They have a couple of meetings this week including one tomorrow night.
  • Join us Monday, December 7th at 6:30 p.m. for a meeting at Lincoln High School Auditorium with School Board Director Sherry Carr and Re-opening Schools Project Manager Scott Masengill to discuss the design team formation and structure,
  • Attend our Program Panel Discussion from 9 - 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 12th at Lincoln High School Library (use 44th and Interlake entrance)
Sherry also had two Bryant parents who were now in the Sand Point area and naturally, they have concerns. They were both worried about the divisiveness happening at Bryant with some parents who want to have a "surge" of kids for a couple of years (even larger class sizes) versus the parents who are still in the Bryant region and feel the parents who are now outside should, in their words, "take one for the team". It is hard to say who has the better argument but Sherry feels they can handle the surge (and Harium echoed this comment as well). That is good but it will mean larger class sizes at Bryant for at least a couple of years (and likely View Ridge as well).

Sherry said that Tracy Libros is continuing to collect sibling data via Early Enrollment, principal surveying families and a possible on-line survey. The parents asked about the timeline for the collection and Sherry said she didn't think it would be available until the Board Work Session on Transitions on the 16th. So please, keep in mind doing the Early Enrollment - that data will help the district tremendously. Also, has anyone had a principal survey occur at their school yet?

It seems that Bryant, JSIS and possibly Lafayette are the schools most likely to have the sibling issues. Most schools will be able to accomodate sibs even if out of the attendance area.

Sherry said there were a couple of things that could be done for these schools. There could be a "surge capacity" for a couple of years (not chronically overenrolling any school but just for the bump years). She also said that she had asked Dr. G-J and staff to pull out all the stops to make this happen (portables, looking at building use,etc.)

The interesting thing to me is that I keep hearing parents say they don't like lottery as the second tiebreaker. They all seem to want distance or a geographic zone one. This is precisely what they want to move away from as it always favors those who live nearest but parents, especially in elementary schools, think those who live nearest (after those in the attendance area) should get in first.

I asked Sherry if she would fight for grandfathering sibs or making sure sibs can be at one school (i.e. the older moves to the younger's new attendance area school). She said she would advocate both.

I left that meeting and went to Harium's. Not as many people came but there was good discussion nonetheless.

I again mentioned Memorial Stadium. Harium had a lot to say and even though I still need to read the MOU and other documents, I believe Harium when he tells me it's a good deal. He outlined the details to me. He also does not support moving the Memorial Wall and I think he would fight to keep it as part of whatever stadium/amphitheater that is built. I left feeling better about this issue.

As I mentioned, Harium also feels the sibling issue can be handled well. It's great that we have two Board members who feel strongly on this issue. He was a little cagey about all the reasons but again, I have faith in him that he wouldn't feel this way if he didn't think it could be done. He did mention a 3-year sib window in passing but I think that was just off the top of his head.

He mentioned the Superintendent has a monthly news update and were we all getting it? I haven't. Anyone else?

We also talked about foreign language immersion for all the newly opened schools (except Old Hay). He would support it if they could find the teachers. He was quite candid that the Board had not followed-thru as they should have for program placement. He said that they hadn't asked to see all requests submitted so staff only gave them some of them (presumably the ones they agreed with). He said that the C&I Committee would make a specific request for this to happen. He said another issue is the "pathway" one of where these schools could feed into for middle school. I also raised the issue that there is no pathway for foreign language immersion for high school.

There were a couple of parents there to advocate for alternative schools and a pathway for those schools as well. One parent said she thought that Michael De Bell may have felt that Thorton Creek parents were not as open as they should have been about moving to JA and that maybe he wasn't as open to listening to them now. This was her impression. Harium said he is pushing for this in the Transition Plan and made that clear to the other members of the Board in an Executive Committee meeting where they discussed SAP amendments.

One of our readers here, Joan, pressed Harium on the issue of the Broad Foundation and its influence in our district. I hadn't known (understood?) that the facilitator for the Board and the Superintendent for the Superintendent's review was from the Broad Foundation. Harium said he saw the problem and that they would not be doing that again. I hope not; no matter what anyone thinks of the Broad Foundation, the Superintendent has several ties to it and should not be guided through her evaluation by anyone there.

Harium also mentioned that the Board was working its way through their policies. He mentioned that a grad student had created a spreadsheet for them so they can see where policies overlap. He said that we could request to see the spreadsheet through Susan Enfield.

I left before the meeting ended so I don't know what was discussed past this point.

48 comments:

Josh Hayes said...

FWIW, I've been getting the Supe's monthly "e-news" mailing. I'm surprised you haven't, Melissa. I'm a little surp -- well, no, actually, I'm not surprised.

Seriously, maybe your spam filter is catching it: it is after all a group mailing. I have the December "issue", dated 4 December. In this issue:

-Assignment Boundaries Adopted
-Upcoming Community Meetings
-STEM @ Cleveland
-Performance Management Launched

Yowie, are we working yet?

ARB said...

we can all agree that geography currently matters in school assignments. Right now, the new SAP largely confines people to their area schools, creating large areas of inequitable access to better schools, eliminating a district wide lottery would contribute to this new geographic segregation.

Anonymous said...

In response to your 2 questions. 1) I filled out a sibling survey that John Hay elementary sent home to all families about a month or so ago. 2) I receive the superintendent's monthly email. I don't think I signed up for this - I just assumed they were sending it to all parents.

SPS mom said...

Harium has a new thread about the math adoption on his blog. Was there some discussion about this at his meeting?

Chris S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris S. said...

Here is a link for subscribing to email newsletters:
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/news/subscribe.xml

Elizabeth said...

The keep our kids together group combined sibling survey results from about half of the 52 elementary schools (and have derivitive info from 13 more). They sent the results to all board members and Tracy libros last week. The results will also be presented at this weeks school board mtg (if any of us make it on the agenda). Bryant actually doesn't end up over enrolled because there are enough families who trade out of it's attendance area they want into a different school with the older sib).

Do you mean that the principals are supposed to do surveys of their own schools?

Maureen said...

Would Option schools be included in the principal surveys? I haven't heard anything. TOPS Site Council is sending out a survey that asks about siblings and transportation.

I do receive the Supt's emails. I figured it was from signing in at community meetings.

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, the math adoption wasn't discussed while I was at either meeting. (As I said, I did not attend either meeting in full.)

The impression Sherry gave was that yes, principals would be doing informal surveys.

Unknown said...

To answer your questions:

1) Our principal at Olympic View (with a little gentle nudging on my part) conducted an online parent survey about incoming kindergarten siblings who now live out of the boundary. He didn't limit the data to next year, he asked about ALL incoming siblings over the next several years.

2) I have been receiving the e-news in my email box.

3) This question was asked awhile back, but I thought I would report that I did receive my child's MAP score at her Parent Teacher Conference. I even received a pamphlet that explained what the scores met.

Maureen said...

Other issues that came up at Sherry Carr's meeting after Melissa left:

A JSIS parent had concerns about sibling placement. He did not express the same concerns about a split in the community as the Bryant parents did, but did say that some people wished that the JSIS boundary had been left at 45th ST to leave more space for siblings. Sherry Carr expressed sympathy, but said that with the border at 45th there would have been well over 100 open seats at JSIS and that seemed like too much to her. She said with the current boundary they expect 80 or so open seats (I think), which she hopes will be enaough to accomodate sibs.

I think Gary Sievert( PTSA Council guy?) made a point here-but I can't remember what-maybe it was the PE waiver thing.

A parent expressed frustration with the way the progress Advanced Learning students make is (not) effectively measured--you can't tell whether they are being served because they test above grade level. She said that some Hamilton APP 6th graders had started the year in algebra but they had cancelled the class in October. I pulled out my old gripe that access should exist for kids past 7th grade and the parent pulled out the old "it's too expensive to test them all" line to which I said, ok, just let everyone who tested in at 6th and 7th grade enroll for 9th whether they moved to APP for 8th or not . Nothing.

The last parent (ok, it was me) spent too long (everyone left)adressing the issues that alternative schools are facing. I advocated that an Education Director be appointed for all of the Option schools since they will share many issues of transportation, undefined populations (that will have to be recruited) and a need for more flexibilty in curriculum pacing and materials.

I brought up the issue that alt schools are supposed to exhibit "shared governance" (along with 11 other Key Elements) but are at the mercy of District appointed administrators and ed directors who may or may not be interested in sharing.

I talked about the possibilty of using community stop busing for Option schools to reduce costs so that broader areas could be bused to a given Option school. I pointed out that it would make more sense to link the McClure reference area to Whitman so that Old Hay K-5 grads could move on to Salmon Bay in Middle School when SB mushrooms, and Hamlton should be linked to Washington MS service area instead since N/S travel is easier than E/W transport.

I don't think I had much of an impact. I can't figure out why Option schools even exist under this plan if they aren't supported to do anything differently than neighborhood schools. Transport the same, curriculum the same, administration the same, governance the same....what's the point? Is it so we can tell Arne Duncan we have choice?

I really appreciated Sherry's willingness to sit there and listen to me, but I didn't get the impression that she thought I had much of an argument (about anything I said). And she said she doesn't read this blog so I won't get to her here either!

BettyR said...

I'm unclear about something that was stated regarding option/alt schools. Are Thornton creek kids now going to be assigned to Jane Addams for Middle school instead of Salmon Bay?

Maureen said...

Beth No one will be assigned to Jane Addams--it will be an Option school. If Thornton Creek students want to go there they will be able to request it, but (as of now) won't have any priority there (like they used to have at Salmon Bay). They can also still request Salmon Bay, but will have to compete with everyone else in Seattle who requests it and won't get yellow bus transportation there.

Harium Martin-Morris has said that he is concerned about alt schools that don't have a feeder pattern for middle school (ie, TC and probably Old Hay Montessori).

Joan NE said...

I am not surprised that Sherry Carr showed little interest in Maureen's concerns about Alt schools. Sherry Carr recieved extradinary funding from a small number of donors in her 2007 election. I suspect that her voting record is fully aligned with the interests of these donors. What information do I have that reveals the intesests of these donors are? If anyone is interested, I will share what I have learned. I can provuide quantitative information about 2007 campaign donations if anyone wants it.

Three other Board members also receieved funding from the same donors: Sundquist, Maier, and Martin-Morris.

I was quite disturbed by Harium's response to several questions I put to him at his Coffee hour. To me it indicates that his show of support for Alt Schools may not be genuine. He expressed strong support for the Broad Foundatation. This much was clear to me. Did others at the meeting get the same impression? and defended the Board's hiring Tom Payzant to "oversee/facilitate" the Sup evaluation. To characterize TP's involvement with these terms seems to be the agreed on response to questions abot this.)

Unlike Melissa, I did not understand Harium to say that the Board would not hire a Broad Foundation representative for future evaluatons. By the way, on July 17 of this year, the Board extended MGJ's contract through 2012. Whoppee!! Did this get through with any media coverage? Did any of you know about that before now?

I pointed out to Harium that the Board is using only one of the two key elements of the John Carver Policy Governance Model. Specifically, the Model calls for the CEO evaluation to consist of the CEO reporting on how he/she honored each and every policy. Of course it would be impractical to cover every single policy in the manual, but the most significant ones should be included in the CEO evaluation.

Haruim defended the Board's failure here. I think he said that implementing the CEO evaluation part of the model is a big undertaking that the Board is not ready to do yet. I asked what was so difficult about implementing this, and, in my opinion, his answer was wholly unsatisfactory. I pointed out the evaluation piece of this model for Governance is far more important than the anti-micro-management part. I told him about a local non-profit that is trained in the model and that helps non-profit Boards to implement it, at fees that are far below market. It is called Executive Services Corps of Washington (www.escwa.org).

Over the weekend I got a phone call from the exec of ESCWA in response to contact I initiated some days ago. It seems that ESCWA had offered its services to the School Board, but that the Board declined. I am going to talk further with the executive of ESCWA (Ms. Nancy Long), and will report back what I find out.

Yesterday I found a School Board Action report datead April 6 2009 that strongly, absolutely contradicts Harium's assurance that the policy review is inconsequential in purpose. Perhaps Harium was napping when it was introduced and aproved by the Board. In fact, the Policy Audit, as it is called, is quite serious and far reaching, and will, unless C54 gets exceptional treatment, eliminate or make impotent C54. I will explain my reasoning and send the link to the doc if anyone wants it.

SPS parent said...

Joan NE said "To me it indicates that his [Harium] show of support for Alt Schools may not be genuine"

Joan, did you know that Harium's kids went to AE2 (now Thornton Creek), an alternative school, for elementary.

They also went to Salmon Bay, another alternative school, for middle school.

And, for HS one went to Hale (closest to an alternative HS experience in N Seattle), and one is going to Roosevelt.

Harium does understand, appreciate, and support alt schools, even though he may not agree with your view points.

Joan NE said...

[continued: my report on Harium's coffee hour]

At some point I mentioned that Mayor McGinn has said that he intends that to try to get the power to appoint Directors, unless something or other happens. Melissa heard me say this. She retorted, "He never said that." Melissa, I have posted the quote twice -- the 2nd time expressly for your benefit. Why are you in denial? It suggests that you have some hidden interest. Susan McGinn was at the meeting (I learned just as she was leaving). Is she the Mayor's wife? If so, then it is interesting that she did not contradict me.

In the Broad F. 2008 annual report, and in material on www.broadurbanprize.org, it is abundantly clear that the Broad Foundation favors this arrangement, In fact, the ideal Broad-hijacked district makes the Superintendent the PRESIDENT of the Board!

By the way, Susan stated that she is in favor of merit pay. She seems like a very nice, pleasant lady. Susan, if you are reading this, will you let us know if you are the mayor's wife, and whether you support the Broad and Gates F's extraordinary influence in our district? I have documentation to show that this District's goals and policies are, in effective, those of the Broad Foundation. This is what makes the Policy Audit so extraordinary, since the purpose of the Audit is to rewrite the entire policy manual so that it is consistent with the goals and direction of the District. Isn't the Board Policy manual supposed to be consistent with the goals and direction set by the Board, and as a reflection of the values and priorities of the community the Board directors, in principle, represent?

Harium expressed clearly that he opposed the forming of an Advisory and Oversight Committe for the Alternative Schools Audit that is anticipated for next Fall.

When I asked why he opposed this idea, he said something along the line that to form this would take too much of the Board's (or District's?) effort. (I have trouble remembering people's responses that don't seem to me to make sense.)

Earlier in the coffee hour he told Melissa that her idea to form an AOC for the BTA levy was a "wonderful" idea. It didn't occur to me until too late to ask why a BTA Levy AOC is not too much trouble, while an Alt Audit AOC is too much trouble.

The idea of that Alt AOC is several-fold.

1.To create a definition of Alternative that distinguishes Alt schools from re-entry programs, and leads to all historical Alt schools from getting official classification as thus (Currently, Thortnon Creek is the only historical C54 school that is still listed as an Alternative school on the Schools page of the Distict website. Apparently this is merely because TC is an oddball for being the District's only K-5. All other schools listed on the Alt drop-down list - except Middle College High Schools - are re-entry programs.)

2. to give the Alt schools a chance to write a rebuttal to the Alt audit report,

3. to allow the Alt schools community representatives to design a meaningful, relevant survey instrument that the District will have to publicize and implement in order to get a statistically and demographically valid sample of responses

4. to help protect Alt Schools from the possible eventualites that 1) the report will contain factual innaccuracies, and will show disadvantageous bias, and 2) that the District will a) choose an innapropriate auditing agency, and b) write an exec summary that matches the District's goals (which clearly is to get rid of Alts) rather than accurately reflecting the spirit of the actual review (this is what happened in the case of the APP audit).

I was astonished when Harium, self-proclaimed friend of Alternative Schools, did not support my proposal for this AOC. I did not anticipate this.

Joan NE said...

Ad Hoc, that Harium's kids once attended Alternative Schools does suggest that he would be friendly to Alt Schools. Like me, are you not suprised, then, with his lack of support for an Alt Audit AOC? This seems to me like an easy, non-controversial way for Harium to evidence his support for Alt Schools.

Maureen said...

Joan, I personally don't attribute Sherry's lack of support to any Broad-based conspiracy. I just think that since she doesn't officially represent any alt schools and her kids have not attended them that she has the standard outsider's view of alts.

We (alts) have contributed to this view in many ways over the years. In a way we are like a herd of cats, with all of the attendant images that conjures (including the number of ways we can be skinned.).

Melissa Westbrook said...

Joan, you clearly have a point of view and that's fine. But, for me, you sound as if you believe you are the only one who (a) has checked anything and (b)is right about anything and (c) can't recognize that someone else might have a different point of view. Basically telling everyone that you're right and they're wrong and if they don't agree with you then they must be hiding something or "in denial" is not going to help you get across your points.

You yourself apologized to Harium for speaking out of turn about something relating to policy at some meeting; no one can be right all the time.

I know you have told me that McGinn said he favors the power for the mayor to appoint the Board. WHERE did you see or hear this? This what I have not understood. I know what he told me and what he has said in the print media I read. Please tell us where he said he favors taking over the Board. (Having mayoral control over the district is NOT the same as having it over a Board.)

I do not appreciate your "hidden interest" remark to me. I did support McGinn but I never told anyone to vote for him. I don't even know what Susan McGinn looks like.

Harium did NOT express "strong support" for the Broad Foundation. If I see Stephanie, who was there, we can ask her if that was her impression. What I saw is that you wanted Harium to denounce the Broad Foundation and as you pursued it, he crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back. It was clear that your blunt attacks were not reaching him. That doesn't mean he has strong support for Broad.

seattle citizen said...

"Haruim defended the Board's failure here. I think he said that implementing the CEO evaluation part of the model is a big undertaking that the Board is not ready to do yet. "

Soo....the Board IS ready to implement more complex (and adhered to) evaluations of teachers and other educators, but not of the superintendent? It hires outside entities to evaluate? Will educators be evaluated by outside entities? (besides the living monster we call "standardized test results")?

hmmm...

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Joan NE said...

Maureen,

Harium told us that Alt Schools can help the cause by making a stronger prescence at Board meetings. Please consider giving testimony at Board Meetings in support of Alts, or arranging for other parents from your school to give testimony that gives compelling anecdotes showing how Alt Schools make the entire system stronger for everybody.

Here are the reasons I suppose that Sherry Carr's agenda is aligned with the (anti-alt) Broad Foundation agenda.

I have analyzed the campaign finance information on the Washington State Public disclosure Commission website. There are 18 individuals who account for only about 2% of the total number of unique donors to the 2007 Director campaigns of Carr, Sundquist, Maier, and Martin-Morris, but account for almost 60% of the aggregate contributions to these four candidates.

It is not unreasonable to expect that the voting records and priorities of these four candidates will resemble those of their largest benefactors. Many of the biggest donors are linked in some way to Microsoft Corporation, to the B&M Gates Foundation, to the League of Education Voters, and to the Alliance for Education. I can provide specific documentation upon request.

I think it is safe to presume that we can look to the LEV and A4E as reflecting the priorities of many or all of these big benefactors. LEV and A4E are reformist in the same sense as is the Broad F.

It is well-established that MGJ is indebted to the Broad Foundation. MGJ must fulfill the Broad Foundation's agenda for SPS, or she will lose the ongoing career support that they promise their "Fellows." (I can document this, upon request.)

The track records of her hand-picked "cabinet" members, and the Broad Residents she has brought in, clearly link the principal actors in this District to the Broad Foundation.

Alternative schools, for a number of specific reasons, are anathema to the school reform that Broad Foundation has brought to SPS.

Given all the sources of campaign support, and other information presented here, it would be very strange indeed if Carr, Maier, Sundquist and Martin-Morris were to show geniune, substantive, consequential support for alternative schools.

I should not have been so surprised when, last Saturday, Harium would not support my AOC proposal, and defended the Broad Foundation's influence in SPS. I should know better.

Joan NE said...

[continued]

Maybe we are very lucky that the Broad Foundation hijacked SPS. But then, again, maybe we aren't. I suggest people look at what has become of Districts that are heavily Broad-influenced, via web-search.

I have done this, and I am very alarmed by what I see. I don't want this for SPS. It will ruin the schools, and the high priority placed in these districts on "district interventions into failing schools" will wreak havoc on the academic and social lives of students in targeted schools. These schools are usually (if not always) schools with high proportions of Title I students. It strikes me as a racist program...

...a thought which reminds me: Just yesterday, I read on the Where's the Math blog that Eli Broad comes from S. Africa. I haven't verified this myself. Would someone check this out?

What most people and news articles call "district intervention", Arne Duncan and Race-to-the-Top call "school turnaround." MGJ is already using the mildest form of intervention, one which she and Arne call "transformation. I know for certain that AS#1 and Pathfinder are being "transformed."

Look at their CSIPs to get an idea of what The Broad Foundation (alias MGJ)probably wants for all SPS schools. The transformation will make these schools resemble test-prep factories more than alternative schools.

Is there still anyone out there who doesn't believe that the Broad Foundation has not "hijacked" the School Board and SPS?

What further evidence do you need? What counterevidence do you have? What documentation would you like to see?

Some (not you, Maureen), who doubt what I and my collegues are finding and reporting to the public, resort to name-calling: conspiracy theorist, whiner, ungrateful beneficiary of a wealthy man's largess, etc.

This is not counter-evidence. It is merely name calling. Can't pro-reformists do any better than this to defend their views?

I do have specific ideas for what constructive, humane, fair reform can look like. So I am not just a complainer. I can offer solutions, and suggest a plan for collecting healthy models for healty reform and professional, constructive performance evaluation of teachers.

No I am not a teacher; never have been. No I am not just worried about my kids. (They will do fine even if the schools are ruined.)

I care about what happens to all of our children, especially those that are black and brown (as Mary Bass puts it), and especially the less-advantaged children.

Joan NE said...

Melissa= the Mike McGinn quote that I posted is somewhere in this blog). If you don't believe this quote, I suggest you contact the people who published it, and take up the dispute them. I merely quoted the source that I gave. I am always take care to avoid taking a quote out of context. I believe I succeed in this case.

I am sorry I don't have time right now to respond to your other comments.

SPS mom said...

This quote is taken directly from the Michael McGinn for Mayor website:

http://mcginnformayor.com/issues/education/

"I believe the mayor needs to be held accountable for the success of the school system. And if elected, that’s what I’ll do.

For the first two years of my administration I will put all of our available resources into helping our schools succeed. We’ll partner with parents. We’ll partner with teachers. We’ll partner with administrators, staff and the community to focus all of the city’s available resources on the success of our students and our schools.

But if that doesn’t help Seattle’s public schools improve, I will work to have the city take control of our school system. Urban schools fail when no one is held accountable. That’s why President Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan believes that mayors should take control of big-city school districts where academic performance is suffering."

seattle citizen said...

"For the first two years of my administration I will put all of our available resources into helping our schools succeed. We’ll partner with parents. We’ll partner with teachers. We’ll partner with administrators, staff and the community to focus all of the city’s available resources on the success of our students and our schools."
Wow! I can't wait!

Melissa Westbrook said...

That says nothing about taking over the Board. Zero. A mayor taking over a school district does not preclude an elected school board.

Also, if you say something was said, be prepared to say where you read or heard it.

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, I hear what you're saying, but if McGinn says, "I will work to have the city take control of our school system" we can assume this means the Board...The school system is the charge of the Board, and to "take over" the district one would have to eliminate or replace the board...

My feeling is that there are some personal feelings flyin' back and forth here that are, perhaps, getting in the way of hearing each other (I've NEVER let my personal feelings get involved in ANYTHING I've posted here! Not ME!)

hschinske said...

According to http://books.google.com/books?id=u10EAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA107, both Broad's parents came from Lithuania and met in New York. Broad was raised in Detroit.

Helen Schinske

Melissa Westbrook said...

It's not personal. I just don't like personal attacks when we are having a basic discussion. It's not helpful and counterproductive especially since the charge here is solutions based on data and fact. And, since it's my name that I sign to everything I write, I'm not going to stand around when I do feel attacked.

Taking over the district could entail many things including the Board. However Joan has said, repeatedly, that McGinn said "the Board". I'm just asking when or where he said that.

He could do all or some of the following if the Legislature granted him some/all control:

-hire a new superintendent and/or be part of the process to hire future superintendents (the Mayor does meet all candidates)
- oversee, with the Board, the superintendent
- appoint some or all of the Board
(some elected, some appointed).

My point is when a precise statement is made, I'd like to know the source. If someone does not like the idea of the mayor having any sort of control over the district, that's fine to say. But to attribute to McGinn's statement of waiting to see how things progress and then going to the Legislature (remember, he couldn't do this on his own) and then working out a plan is not the same thing as saying he'd take over the Board. Plain and simple, it isn't.

Joan NE said...

Thank you for posting this SPSmom. I interpret taking over the district to mean securing the right to appoint school board directors; it may also include the power to appoint the superintendent. Maybe Melissa's dispute has to do with my interpreting quotes such as this to mean something different from what she takes it to mean.

Joan NE said...

Helen - thanks for looking into Broad's background.

Joan NE said...

I think what has happened is that I was inferring something without realizing it. I am sorry Melissa.

I have read about Mayoral take over of school districts in other cities, and have seen reports that address this. From this I grew accustomed to equating mayoral control with appointing of directors. I see in the quote provided above that McGinn did not specifically say that he wants to appoint directors, but nor does he explain what he means by "taking over the school district."

The reason this concerns me so much is that the Broad Foundation has made very clear that they have the best success advancing their agenda in districts that are subject to mayoral control. The community has the least influence on the direction of the school district in this situation.

Joan NE said...

When I have the time, I will post to this blog the clear evidence that shows that under MGJ, the district's goals and policies are aligned with The Broad Foundation's philosophy as to how large urban school districts should be structured and operated. If people see the evidence and understand it, I don't see how anyone can reject my assertion, unless they are not objective.

Joan NE said...

I wrote This "district's goals and policies are aligned with The Broad Foundation's philosophy..."

I stated the assertion too mildly. What I should have said is that MGJ actually takes direction and guidance from key personnel employed by the Broad Foundation.

Furthermore, my colleagues and I we have heard from former members of the Board that Directors have gone to training seminars conducted by the Broad Foundation. We KNOW for certain that the Broad Foundation has PAID for Directors' trainings. Less compliant directors have called these trainings "mindcontrol workshops."

Joan NE said...

Chris - You were at Harium's coffee hour last saturday. Did you form a similar impression as Melissa? She wrote: "Harium did NOT express "strong support" for the Broad Foundation." What do you recall about his expressions of support (or lack thereof) for the Broad Foundation?

Didn't Melissa leave before I finished my questions for Harium? She may not have heard the entire exchange.

In her orignial blog post, Mellissa wrote that Harium said the Board would NOT bring Tom Payzant in for MGJ's future evaulations. Is this what you heard?

I wrote that Susan McGinn was at the meeting. I wonder if I misremember her name (was it Stephanie McGinn?) I've lost my notes from the meeting, so can't see if I wrote the name when I first heard it.

Chris S. said...

I mostly agree with Melissa. He did say they would not again choose to have a Broad person facilitate supt. reviews, which is a much stronger statement that what he made last summer (refused to acknowledge it was a problem at all.)

Regarding "strong support" or lack thereof, well, I personally would not capitalize the NOT...I would state his position as regarding the various foundations equal, not organizations to be driven by but worth considering their ideas because some of their ideas might be good.

He didn't come out and say this Saturday, but last summer he said, in effect, there was no downside to taking their money, i.e. trust us, they aren't buying influence. This is another case where I don't know if he's being naive or disingenuous. I have a hard time taking that statement as truth. I didn't hear any change to this position saturday. So I would say not that he does or doesn't support the Broad, but that he regards many reform foundations with some interest, some skepticism, and a fairy-tale unshakable belief in the integrity of the board and district leadership.

And sorry, I can't remember the woman's name.

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

Joan I appreciate your passion, but there is no need to continue arguing at this point. You need not prove that you are right and Melissa is wrong. You are both entitled to your own opinions and interpretations of what you heard at the meetings. It's time to let it go now and move on.

And thanks to both of you (during this busy holiday season) for taking the time to attend the meetings and report back to the community. We all appreciate it very much!

Joan NE said...

Thanks Chris and Adhoc. It is very helpful to get this third perspective. I am glad that Melissa's report about future sup evaluations is confirmed - I for one do not want a repeat of what has happened twice now. I learn from this that I have to be more careful in how I listen, and that maybe I should repeat back to the speaker what I think heard, in order to get confirmation or correction.

Joan

Chris S. said...

One more tidbit from this meeting: Joan asked about the extension of MGJ's contract last July. Harium said the deal was a rolling 3 year contract, so in effect they extend it by a year every year. We didn't know this. I don't remember if Melissa was there for this part and if so, Melissa were you surprised? Some other people we talked to subsequently were.

Joan NE said...

Could people send me examples of the Superintendent violating Board Policy, and the Board allowing this? I need these examples for a testimony I am preparing. Please send sufficient detail and links for documentation, if you have it.

Thanks

Charlie Mas said...

I knew that the Board voted to extend the Superintendent's three-year contract every year so that it always extends three years out. It was a critical element to her raise last year. They could not award her a raise without changing the terms of her contract. She was already under contract to work the 2008-2009 school year at her original salary. To increase the pay without other contract modifications would constitute a gift to a private person, which would be a violation of the Washington State constitution.

As for Policies which the Superintendent has violated, well, find a comfortable chair...

Policy B24.00 The Superintendent is the secretary of the Board and is required to post the agenda of board meetings at least three days in advance. Board committee meeting agendas are typically late. Board legislative meeting agendas are often altered at the last minute. Public access to Board documents isn't as good as it should be. Policy B42.00 also speaks to this.

Policy B45.00 requires that motions be introduced at one Board meeting and not voted on until the next Board meeting except in emergencies. There have been a number of introduction/action motions which were in no way emergencies, most notably the superintendent's raise.

Policy B61.00 requires the superintendent to complete a number of tasks which have been left undone. Among these are "Recommend adoption of new, and revision or elimination of outdated policies." The District often takes years to react to changes in state law that impact district policies.
"Prepare and present reports on the educational program as required." and "Provide annual report on District programs." There are very few such reports and none of them are annual. "Administer programs of maintenance and operation of school properties." Our buildings are NOT maintained. "Plan and prepare measures to keep the community and the legislature informed." The superintendent does not keep the public informed. "Maintain an accurate inventory of District equipment." A great deal of equipment (and art) has been lost or unaccounted for.

Policy C05.00 We do not have curriculum summaries and course descriptions.

Policy C07.00 essentially requires curriculum alignment. We don't have that now, do we?

Policy C10.00 We do not have the required instructional objectives for every course.

Policy C12.00, C13.00, and C14.00 The homework policies are not followed.

Policy C15.00 I suspect that some schools did not get the written waiver required for them to have additional high school graduation requirements.

Policy C25.00 The use of document cameras may be in violation of U.S. copyright laws and this policy.

Policy C32.01 I don't think this procedure for handling instructional materials complaints is being followed. Didn't anyone do this for the math textbooks?

Charlie Mas said...

Policy C40.00 We are not utilizing a variety of Educational measurement and assessment processes. We are not using standardized tests to measure the achievement of Seattle students against national norms. There's a procedure for this Policy, but it is completely obsolete (see Policy B61.00 above).

Policy C41.00 The superintendent has not established specific procedural guidelines for schools to follow in addressing the educational needs of each student not progressing satisfactorily towards standards. In addition, students who have not met or exceeded academic standards are being promoted in violation of this policy.

Policy C42.00 The superintendent is not making appropriate reviews of academic programs for compliance or efficacy. There's a procedure for this (C42.01) which isn't being followed.

Policy C43.00 The requirement of fidelity of implementation and the use of a single pedagogy in math instruction violates this policy.

Policy C44.00 The early and effective interventions required by this policy are not being provided.

Policy C45.00 There is no annual review of schools and programs as required by this policy. In addition, the distribution of programs is not equitable and the review of program proposals is not comprehensive.

Policy C46.00 The procedure for reviewing proposals for new programs is not followed.

Policy C54.00 The superintendent has violated this policy by failing to consult with alternative school communities on hiring decisions. In addition, this policy should exempt alternative schools from curricular alignment.

Policy C56.00 The District's program placement practice is in violation of this policy.

Policy D12.00 The district's number and placement of APP sites violates this policy. Special note: The Board voted, on January 29, 2009, to direct the superitendent to review this policy and offer recommendations for revisions. No work was done.

Policies D44.00, D45.00, and D46.00 These policies prohibit social promotion.

Policy D47.00 Academic opportunities around the district are not equal as required by this policy.

Policy E08.00 The policies about advisory committees is not followed. The postings aren't made and the superintendent's responses are almost always late.

Policy E20.00 Communication with the public is less than timely and accurate and the District does NOT stimulate two-way communication.

E23.00 Customer service does not adequately respond to citizen complaints.

I'm tired. I may do more later.

Joan NE said...

Charlie - Thanks for this list, and what additional information you add later.

I am also looking for specific stories/examples of policy violations. The TOPS principal assignment decision announced early this year is a remarkable example of violation of policy. The Sup made a bizarre intrepretation of C54 in this case, to argue that she was not violating the policy. I have a copy of the letter. She removed an effective popular principal, and placed there a person who doesn't appear to be fully supportive of maintaining the integrity of the TOPS program. The principal placement weapon is the easiest way for the Sup to kill a strong alternative program.

Another request: As curriculum alignment proceeds (last night, the Sup called it "academic assurance" at the Board mtg; S.Enfield, the CAO, called it the "eye" test at the Garfield curriculum alignment meeting), many popular courses will be axed.

Would people send in names of popular courses at your schools, including any that the District has already forced your school to eliminate? For example, at Garfield HS, there is a very popular Marine Biology course for which students can get science credit. After curriculum alignment, this course will not count as a core science credit. Each HS will have little capacity for providing unique courses.

Under Core 24, HS students will have 6 credits of core classes every year. 1 credit equals 150 years, meaning a full one-year course. Unless the schools go to 7 periods a day, there appears to be no room for electives. Does anyone know if I understand this correctly?

I ask this, because parents at the Garfield community engagement meeting stressed that electives are for some children the hook that keeps them interested in school. The "hook" classes include music (band, orchestra, jazz band, chorus), marine biology, greek/latin,...). Will there be any room in Core 24 for hook classes?

I want to put together a profile of what the programs at different schools looked liked BEFORE curriculum alignment, so that we can begin to more fully understand how curriculum alignment will change the personality of our schools. After curriculum alignment, all schools will have the same personality.

Joan NE said...

Last night was the first Board meeting that I attended. The fact that the SUp sits with the Directors near the center of the diaz gives the appearance that her power is on par with the Board. A policy revision of Jan 23 2008 added language that says the Sup and the Directors are "partners" in the governance of the District. In agreeing to this revision, the Board shows a willingness to be a weak board.

Does anyone know if the Sup has historically sat on the diaz with the Directors? Does this policy pre-date John Stanford?

At the Board meeting last night, Sherry Carr told the Sup that folks that will be assigned to Sandpoint want to know how/when they can participate in discussions to decide what the school program will be. Carr said parents expressed interest in expeditionary learning and other approaches (my daughter's school used Exp.Learning). The Sup cautioned that budget considerations really limit what can be done for new programs at viewlands, mcdonald, sandpoint schools (my interpretation: no special programs will be allowed). She said parents will be invited to participate in planning oct or nov next year, when the Design Teams are formed.

I predict that the new programs at these schools will be models of what every elementary school is supposed to look like - and that they will look like models of what the CSIP transformation plans for AS#1 and Pathfinder are aiming for. I predict that the new programs will have full-fledged "Instructional Leadership" programs, wherein the principal uses the "Learning Walk" to monitor teacher fidelity to district pacing guides. The Principal at Lowell has already recieved training in the Learning Walk. (pers. commun., Dec 7, 2009).

I hope I am wrong in these predictions.

Maureen said...

Joan, The old TOPS principal retired, she wasn't removed. And it isn't really clear (to me at least) whether the new principal supports TOPS as an alt school or not, I think she is still in listening mode (which seems appropriate to me given that she has no alt experience). The point is that alt schools should have a voice in the selection of their administrators so as assure the appointment of someone who supports their alt nature--it shouldn't be left up to fate.

Joan NE said...

Charlie - would you mind to add the revision date for any further policies that you list?

You wrote "Policy B61.00 (as revised Aug 1995) requires the superintendent to complete a number of tasks which have been left undone. Among these are "Recommend adoption of new, and revision or elimination of outdated policies."

This particular requirement of B61.00 has been fulfilled: See School Board Action Report dated April 6, 2009: Asks Board to approve a resolution for accepting a grant to hire an outside policy consultant to complete a thorough review of entire policy manual.

reference: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/08-09agendas/040809agenda/policyreport.pdf

Charlie - would you like to form an independent committee of parents/teachers who will voluntarily conduct a thorough policy audit, but from the community's perspective? I think such committee would make very different recommendations in many cases than did the outside policy consultant. Seems like such committee would want to see the Policy Audit report (supposed to be out as of Sept 6 2009) for this work.

There is no need to get Board approval for such project. I highly doubt they would approve of this. It could be an extremely constructive exercise.

Anyone who is interested in this idea, please write or call me:

joan@mathascent.org; 206 532 2122

Please also write to this strand to express your support or reservations about this idea.

Joan NE said...

Maureen - Thank you for setting the record straight on TOPS. I need to be more careful about jumping to conclusions and making inferences. I hope that the new principal fully supports the program already in place, and brings new ideas that the community likes and that will strengthen the program.