Today's Community Meetings/Tim Burgess Speaks

There were some Director community meetings today; DeBell, Sundquist and Martin-Morris. Did anyone attend?

I sent an e-mail to the Directors expressing my disappointment in the evaluation of the Superintendent. I am not willing to waste my time with them any longer (with the possible exception of Kay Smith-Blum who has shown a willingness to ask questions until she gets answers and isn't afraid to offer her own solutions). I'm not passing on research or information to them. I'm not going to testify at Board meetings. I'm not going to their community meetings (even though you can learn interesting things from other parents). But why bother? They may sometimes listen and even raise a question of staff that someone from the community gives them but really they don't seem to want input or care about making sure it is part of their or the Superintendent's decision-making process.

On that note, here's some interesting information. There's a Seattleite named Kent Kammerer who has monthly discussions with politicians and other newsmakers. I get his e-mail summary from the meetings. This month he had Councilman Tim Burgess. Apparently the councilman went to Boston (on his own dime) to talk to the Mayor and other city officials to learn about their tunnel and other issues. Education came up in the conversation. Here's what Kent reports he said:

Burgess emphasized that he and the full council were dedicated to making Education and Public Safety a high priority. On the education front Burgess is dedicated to do all he can to make Seattle Schools better.

When he visited Boston he was obviously impressed by some of the new school policies, at least in a pilot school they visited. The City of Boston took over the school system and run schools as part of the City administration. Burgess has investigated various charter school options and while not advocating Seattle take over the school system as has Mayor McGinn, he does believe that the City can do much more to support public education.

A new mentoring program has started. Seattle police provide security and even the City demographer has been providing services to the school district to enhance their student placement and building needs. Seattle, through the special levy also supplies health clinics and other services. Burgess likes performance based systems where teachers pay is linked to students' test scores. Teacher pay in Seattle has never been equal to what garbage truck drivers are paid. Burgess was asked if teachers pay is linked to students' willingness to study might they not want to work in troubled schools where kids aren't doing well? Burgess responded that teachers will flock to schools to teach where their pay is linked to student performance.

A lot could be said about these statements. Councilman Burgess has been talked about to run for mayor someday. He clearly has some ideas. I have no idea what a garbage truck driver makes versus a teacher but I think he might be surprised. And there's the charter talk again. Also, teachers will "flock" to schools to teach if they make more money based on student performance? Where has he heard this or what data is this based on? I'll have to call his office.


Chris S. said…
I went briefly to Debell and Martin-Morris community meetings. I am totally with Melissa. Those schmucks are powerless. Glad to have my Saturday mornings back. The only reason to go is to network with other parents.
Sahila said…
OT... love what Charlie and Seattle Citizen have been doing over at the A4E blog:

absolutely hilarious....
Thanks Sahila, you're right. Hilarious. I did note that a couple of Alliance staff were at the Board meeting.
Dorothy Neville said…
I went to Harium's. Full disclosure is that I took my son (and my husband decided to tag along) because he needed to attend some sort of civic engagement with an elected official for a merit badge requirement. Since he's a product of SPS and listens to me talk about it this was relevant.

We were the first, so my son started the conversation about math. Harium reiterated that the curriculum is not the material. He voted against the HS books because he didn't think they were good reference books for families to help their kids. The actual teaching is up to the teacher and ought not be dependent on the text.

One thread from there was the lack of follow through from the Theory of Action. There was supposed to be some accountability, survey and other data to see if the books are successful. Where is that? When Harium said that there are good resources on-line and in other languages, I asked is there a mechanism to measure that use? Survey parents? Page views on the math page at the district website? The publishers have material on their website as well that requires a code. The teachers are supposed to give it to the parents. Great, so the publishers ought to have some data at a district level (same code for the entire district) of page views and worksheet downloads. So there are ways to get data, but we don't have any.

A different thread from math, I expressed frustration with his adamant view that the materials and the curriculum are! different! when that is in direct conflict with Anna Maria De la Fuente's presentation at the Math Board Workshop where she said central administration would be concentrating on monitoring teachers' "level of use" of the materials. Harium said he talks to Ms De La Fuente all the time and that she agrees with him about the distinction between curriculum and materials. At this point a math teacher had arrived and he just laughed and laughed.

Chris's frustration and use of the term schmuck is probably in reference to the alternative school audit discussion? A couple parents asked about that and Harium is so optimistic that it's going to happen and that it will be comprehensive and thorough and by a firm that is knowledgeable and the data will be useful and every child will get lollipops and pony rides.
Chris S. said…
Thanks for the laugh Dorothy. But I really truly believe the board members have little to no influence. I'd just been to talk to Michael DeBell and he had some lollipop vision about earned autonomy. Do I think it's gonna happen? Nope. Perhaps schmuck is the wrong word...self-deception?

I mean, they VOTED for all the performance management policies and said some nice words about "fixing them later." If I were the superintendent I'd think I could pull anything over these guys, and I'd be right. I'm very, very nervous.
dan dempsey said…

I had every intention of going to "DeBell's meeting" earlier in the week BUT ... by the time Friday afternoon had arrived .... Forget it why waste my time. So nice that you confirmed my thought.

I appreciate KSB but the rest of these folks are pointless for me to take the time to talk to. Michael and KSB read and occasionally reply when I write.

The Evaluation ... no no no that one left me with Michael DeBell is Board president and I hold him accountable for that "Bad Joke".

Harium will not even respond to me when I write on his Blog.

More on Harium soon.
dan dempsey said…
About Harium....

"He voted against the HS books because he didn't think they were good reference books for families to help their kids. The actual teaching is up to the teacher and ought not be dependent on the text. "

and pigs should fly!!!!

Here is the very simple truth. The "Gang of Four" supports MGJ's actions and needs to tell numerous fairy-tales to support MGJ's positions. Their tales defy logic and their support of MGJ ignores mountains of evidence.

Present Harium with this:

verbatim transcript of 3-3-2010 Board meeting page 85-86

M-M: "I believe that the board did follow both the RCW and our own policies. ......
.... It's clear to me that by not appealing, would put the district in a place of always thinking what the courts will do on any decision the board makes."

This {"I believe that the board did follow both the RCW"} is complete and utter nonsense.

The record of evidence submitted by the Board to the court contained around 1100 pages. This by law must have been the record of evidence considered by the board. ... Yet Appellants Porter et al. needed to submit 300+ pages to the court that the District's own attorney agreed should have been used. It became titled "the supplemental record".

You did not follow the RCW. Your belief is contradicted by evidence.

I will put more effort into legal action as talking to the "Four" is pointless.
dan dempsey said…
On Spector decision and the decision to appeal it.

Transcript of 3-3-10 pages 58-59:

MGJ: "On Feb 4th Judge Julie Spector concluded the the Seattle school board had insufficient evidence to make its May 8th, 2009 {actually May 6th} decision to adopt the discovering math materials and sent the decision back to the board for further consideration.

Seattle public schools, following an extensive process in adopting these materials, which were thoroughly vetted by a diverse group including mathematicians and teaching professionals. The judge's decision, which was a surprising finding, must be appealed by Seattle public schools for the following reasons.

The court decision was not confined
(inaudible) review of the record that led up to the board's vote to adopt these materials. The court disregarded a year long instructional materials process that the school district followed prior to making its decision. The court substituted its decision for that of the school board. It is the school board's duty to make decisions for the district about adoption of instructional materials. Last spring and summer the instructional materials were purchased and staff was trained in the use of its math instructional materials. They have been in use in our high schools beginning with this academic school year."

Utter NONsense from MGJ supported by the four drones.

HERE is the actual court decision.

Pointless to talk to any of the "Four" drone directors.
dan dempsey said…
As I read through the rationales presented by the "Four" directors and MGJ, I find not a one of the directors has the slightest concern that they excluded an enormous amount of evidence submitted by the public.

Clearly all 5 (MGJ + 4) have no concern for public input. When required to use public input by existing laws and now a court order of remand "These 5 formally refuse to use public input". They just DO NOT CARE.

Supe's eval = 1.71 for math, and so what?
dan dempsey said…
" Burgess responded that teachers will flock to schools to teach where their pay is linked to student performance."

Where is there evidence of this?

Look at Southeast Initiative at Cleveland and RBHS.... lots of district top down efforts + funding and results = zilch.

So who wants to be subject to that?

Look at Cleveland, Ohio's "Innovation Schools" most did not do squat and so half the faculty gets booted.

NOT more crappy opinions from a bureaucrat .... FACTS Mr. Burgess please ... the FACTS!!!

"To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data."
Unknown said…
Interesting stuff about district being accountable. Good stuff on this site about Title 1. If you really want to help the district account for money, maybe you should ask this:
Does the executive finance director have a degree in accounting or finance? When were the interviews for that job? Does the manager of Grants (Title 1 is a grant) have a college degree? When were the interviews for that job?
Does the private school coordinator have a college degree? Is this position paid for with Title 1 money? Does this person have a background in Title 1? (All the Titles are very different and have very different rules.) Are there other staff/positions that already do the Title 1 tasks?
In the most recent review from OSPI, was there just one area that had issues, or several?
Charlie Mas said…
Mr. Burgess can say whatever he wants. The decision-makers aren't listening to him any more than they are listening to anyone else.

Lots of un-informed people have opinions. The only ones that count are the ones with money behind them.
seattle said…
Yeah! Someone at the Alliance finally checked their blog!
reader said…
Curious. They can remove the postings. Too bad (for them) they don't seem to be able to also remove the fact that there was a posting in the first place. Doesn't it look a little weird to have a blog with ONLY deleted postings?

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