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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mayor's Town Halls on Youth Starting

I missed last night's Town Hall on Youth and Families Initiative by Mayor McGinn at the Rainier CC. Here's an account from Publicola.

In several crowded meeting rooms (including one room filled with about 75 Burmese speakers), hundreds of participants divided up into a dozen groups to answer three primary questions: What do we want for our children and families? What are our most critical challenges and how should we prioritize them? And what are the solutions?

Their top five suggestions weren’t terribly surprising: Making schools more accountable; providing more support for families to make kids ready to learn; creating more affordable housing; closing the academic achievement gap and reducing the high-school dropout rate; and giving kids more opportunities to get engaged. But the overwhelming community response to the forum—hundreds of people, many of them with young kids in tow, showing up for a two-hour community forum on a Monday night?—was.

There are four more forums. I was told by someone in the know that the Mayor's staff really wanted people to only attend one. I guess they don't want any one person/group dominating the conversation.

McGinn’s challenge, after the five forums and a final “Kids and Family Congress” at Seattle Center are over, will be to turn all the good ideas into action—easier said than done, given that most of the goals listed tonight are the responsibility of the Seattle school district, not city government. However, this week’s forums could provide the political backing McGinn needs to implement changes to the upcoming Families and Education Levy—implementing a so-called “cradle to college” approach, which Burgess alluded to at the council meeting yesterday, and sending more money to struggling South End schools.

The Mayor has a blog for this initiative. There is also a "Get Involved" page with specific things you can do. After these meetings, there will then be 100 (!) community caucuses. Each caucus will elect a delegate for the Kids and Families Congress in June. Then Planning Groups will be formed to work on action plans.

Here's the list of the rest of the meetings:

March 1 (general public) – Northgate Elementary School 7-8:30 p.m.
March 8 (general public) – Van Asselt Elementary School 7-8:30 p.m.
March 15 (general public) – Denny Middle School 7-8:30 p.m.
March 22 (general public) – Garfield Community Center 7-8:30 p.m.

April 8 (youth workshop) – Bertha Knight Landes Room in City Hall, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

From the Mayor's webpage:

Hearing directly from youth will be an vitally important part of this process. The mayor will be visiting Hamilton International Middle School, Franklin High School and Chief Sealth High School, and as noted above, on April 8th the Mayor’s Office will be holding a large group workshop specifically for youth at City Hall in the Bertha Knight Landes Room (600 4th Avenue). Youth and groups that work with youth are also strongly encouraged to host their own youth-focused Community Caucuses; please contact Sol Villarreal at 206-233-2656 or sol.villarreal@seattle.gov for more information.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bill 6696, the Ed Reform bill that was in the State Senate, got approved today and is now going into the Ways and Means Committee.

Check out this phrase that was added to the bill through the efforts of the Alliance, the PTSA, CPPS and the LEV and let me know what you think it means:

"(c) The four-level rating system used to evaluate the certificated classroom teacher must describe performance along a continuum that indicates the extent to which the criteria have been met or exceeded.

When student growth data, if available and relevant to the teacher and subject matter, is referenced in the evaluation process it must be based on multiple measures that can include classroom-based, school-based, district-based, and state-based tools. As used in this subsection, 'student growth' means the change in student achievement between two points in time."

I think that the "student achievement between two points in time" is referring to the MAP test brought to us by the generous contribution of Bill Gates.

Teacher evaluations based on a student’s performance on a test will be happening in some form here in Seattle thanks to a well-coordinated effort on the part of a few.

Mayoral control is not far behind unless people start getting involved and letting the powers that be know that all of these organizations which are more astro turf than grassroots don't represent all of us or maybe even most of us. However you feel about it, I would recommend going to one of these forums and letting your voice be heard.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I wouldn't consider CPPS, PTSA, the Alliance (ha!) or LEV to be grassroots. I don't think any of them would call themselves grassroots.

gavroche said...

Blogger Melissa Westbrook said...

I wouldn't consider CPPS, PTSA, the Alliance (ha!) or LEV to be grassroots. I don't think any of them would call themselves grassroots.


Yet, all but the Alliance claim to be representing the local community, so how else can one interpret their claimed origins?

Of course, the truth is LEV is heavily funded by Gates money, CPPS was once seeded with Gates money and is in fact a multi-state effort, the Alliance effectively launders Gates, Broad Foundation and SPS's Ballard HS Supreme Court case settlement funds, and the PTSA is "one voice" representing 46,000 kids so that's not very democratic either.

I agree with Dora that MAP may well be the Trojan Horse to merit pay. Its genesis, the money the District is channeling to it ($4 million in the latest levy, was it?), and the Supt's affiliation with the company that makes and sells it (board member of the NWEA) still demand much closer scrutiny.

Joan NE said...

Does anyone know what must happen for the mayor to be able to take control? If we know how this development can be made to occur, then we can better figure out how to prevent this from happening.

Please someone figure this out and report back here.

Joan NE said...

My recollection is that LEV calls itself grassroots.

Anonymous said...

The PTSA's legislative update letter is called "The Grassroots Newsletter" by the way.

I should add that the same language that was described for teachers in the bill was also added for principals. So now, if ALL of the students in one school do not show adequate "growth",the principal will be in line for some sort of retribution as well.

And, Melissa, how else do you think these groups represent themselves to the legislature, as just individuals or as part of a larger representation of the population? If they just said "Hi, I'm Joe Schmo and this is what I think" how far do you think they would get? And the names that they give themselves, besides the PTSA, creates the image that they are part of a greater whole. Such words as "Alliance", "Coalition" and "League of" just make them seem more than they really are. And that, in today's lingo, is called an "astro turf organization".

Anonymous said...

This from Crosscut today...

"The mayor's office has put its' considerable skills in building community support to work in a big way, doing everything from posting a video by McGinn himself to encourage engagement to hiring an important education reform group, the statewide League of Education Voters, to organize dozens of small-groups meetings mainly aimed at ensuring minority parents and families are heard."

LEV is at it again. Here comes the mayoral control roll-out.

I think that it's great that everyone is getting an opportunity to speak on concerns about education but I also know how one can cherry pick statements and create an agenda from just a few words from a few people.

When McGinn was running for office, I called his campaign office to get more information on what he meant when he said he wanted to take over the schools if they weren't working. Like, what's the criteria for deciding if the schools work or not and to what extent he meant to take over the schools.

His staff person responded and said that he was giving the school district two years to prove that they were working and then after that, he would decide if he was going to take over. I never got an answer on what the criteria would be but, oh well, he was campaigning then on other issues like...the tunnel.

And Joan, I will find out how the mayors in LA and NYC were able to take over and get back to you on the Education 2010 blog. This is too important to let go by.

Sue said...

Quite honestly people, I really don't think we have to worry about a mayoral take-over of Seattle Schools. So far, I am unconvinced that this mayor has the ability to do anything at all, let alone take over schools.

So I really wouldn't worry. Now, when Conlin or Burgess become mayor in four years, that may be a different story.

Joan NE said...

Keepin' On:

You're talkin' about a small risk of a very undesirable development.

I say to my kids, it's o.k. to take a risk, even a big one, if the consequences are not severe.

I say to them, one should never, if one can avoid it, take any size risk of letting a very bad event occur.

I hope you are right that McGinn is VERY unlikely to try to or be able to take over the schools.

Nevertheless, in my view this would be a terrible development, and I want to do whatever necessary to make that risk go to zero, if at all possible.

It is prudence and good sense, isn't it?

Thanks for offering to investigate this, Dora.

Melissa, I am having deja vu ["McGinn never said...show me where he said..."]. Do you remember that? I remember in the run-up to the election your writing that you thought it would be fine if McGinn took over the schools. Am I misremembering? My memory of conversations isn't one hundred percent reliable.

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, Joan, what I said is that we would be fine if it happened. Meaning, we'd come thru it like we do with our current system. Not that I am fine with it; I'm not.

If you can't cite what you quote, please don't do it.

SolvayGirl said...

Melissa: I remember your quote and that is what you said. We would be fine. Unfortunately, I don't think we're even close to fine now. Between the issues with the Math textbooks, STEM, MAP, teacher evaluations, etc. were getting farther from fine with every step.
Also unfortunately, I don't see McGinn as even close to capable of turning this District around. I honestly don't know what would put things right.

WV: Troubre — what the District is definitely in.

Joan NE said...

Melissa - I fail to see any substantive difference between my paraphrase and your paraphrase. You say "we" where I say "it." You say "if it happened" where I say "if McGinn took over the schools."

Because I have read about mayoral control, I don't have the confidence that you do that "we will be fine."

My purpose in writing about this is not to convince Melissa Westbrook of anything. Rather, I would be happy if my posts to this blog help to inspire one or two people to speak out against mayoral control.

re: "If you can't cite it, don't quote it?" Can't see how this is relevant, since I didn't quote, I paraphrased, and my paraphrase is fair, I think.

Anonymous said...

If something is on someone's agenda, Keepin' On, more than likely they will make every attempt to achieve their goal and I take what McGinn says seriously.

It's part of the reformist playbook just as merit pay was and they did it successfully in Seattle without too many people knowing about it.

You just have to keep an eye on things or before you know it, something has occurred that you were not aware of, eg: our supe and the Broad Foundation right here in Seattle.

CHECK OUT THE BROAD’S 2009 ANNUAL REPORT:

http://www.broadfoundation.org/asset/101-2009.10%20annual%20report.pdf

"The election of President Barack Obama and his appointment of
Arne Duncan, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, as the U.S. secre-
tary of education, marked the pinnacle of hope for our work in
education reform. In many ways, we feel the stars have finally aligned.

With an agenda that echoes our decade of investments—charter schools, performance pay for teachers, accountability, expanded learning time and national standards—the Obama administration is poised to cultivate and bring to fruition the seeds we and other reformers have planted."

THEIR INVESTMENT IN SEATTLE :
"Districts The Broad Foundation invests $1.3 million in Denver Public Schools, $2.2 million in Prince George ’s County Public Schools, Md. , and $1.25 million in Seattle Public Schools to implement performance management
systems."

You have to take everyone's agenda seriously.

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