A Couple of Things

So I popped over to a couple of sites to see what is being said on various issues.

First, I looked at the PI coverage of the so-called SERVE idea for the teachers contract. I found the last sentence weak and wondered if there was a reason for it being so:

Both sides said they hope to reach an agreement before classes begin.

If they don't reach agreement, there will be a strike. I would suspect that to be BIG news and yet you wouldn't really reach that conclusion from that last sentence.

Second, I checked in at the Alliance blog. (I'm not linking it because I am fairly disgusted at the direction they are taking.) They had written, a couple of days back, about SERVE. I commented that the Alliance keeps saying their community group has parents in it as if the Alliance is a parent organization. It is not; the Seattle Council PTSA is the most visible, hardest-working and largest parent group. I wrote that it is disingenuous for the Alliance to persist in their "parent" stance. And guess what? After a couple of days, that comment still isn't there. (And no one else has commented but I take that to be because no one reads their blog.) The Alliance sure doesn't like being challenged. They want to be a "community" group but only for those who agree with them.

Third, went over to Harium's blog where the Audit thread continues to have lively questions. I note that Harium has nicely redesigned his page but that the Audit thread opening was rewritten from being somewhat tepid to a little more action oriented. (Harium has answered here and there on the audit but I think his final answer is"wait until the Board gets back together.) People have asked for a thread on the so-called SERVE idea but he hasn't created that thread yet so people are posting what I think are some good questions about both the audit and other topics.

Here is a sampling; I'm editing for length so not all are full-text.

Charlie - Why didn't the Board make some effort to address the audit concerns upon first learning about them as the staff did? Why did the Board wait until the audit was released and then wait some more through the rest of July and most of August before taking any action? Why the delay?

Anonymous - You have never acknowledged the request by commentors about getting a report on the transportation savings.

Can you explain why you have ignored this request? Do you have the information? Will you get the information post it on your blog?

Anonymous - Are you aware of the price tag associated with the SERVE program?

Anonymous - Wow. I can't believe I'm saying this but I won't be voting for the school levy and I will be supporting the teachers in their strike.

This MAPP test evaluation stuff is complete nonsense. Our high performing daugher had exceptional teachers this year. Her MAPP test results went DOWN.

Anonymous - Please, please- don't be quiet Harium. You are our voice. Please use is wisely and step up. Be the leader we all want you to be. Be the voice of reason and listen to the professionals who are working every day with students helping them learn and become active members of our community not automatons.

Please help us all.

Anonymous - What is the cost of the Strategic Plan? What is the cost cost of the proposed program to evaluate teachers (SERVE)? Will the upcoming Levy be used to pay for SERVE? While the District spends millions on bureaucracy, resources are exiting our classrooms. This past year, my daughter complained about being rushed through math content because books are being SHARED between classes. So please, How much will this controversial Strategic Plan and teacher evaluation cost?

Anonymous - The proposal on the table does not have the funding to implement. It needs the voters to approve yet another levy
How can the district offer teachers a contract that costs four million dollars to implement before the know they have secured the funds?

Anonymous - The school beat talks about early release time in very vague terms. The proposal , now public, is very specific. Early release every other Friday. That is a pretty big nugget for the working family to take on.

I think parents (and others) are starting to see the major issues in SERVE. Look, I understand it could be said that it's a "starting" point for the contract but I'd be willing to bet that for MGJ, it's game, set, match. (Yes, a sports analogy but at least it's not football or baseball.)

No to any Superintendent have final and sole domain over exiting teachers. That is completely undemocratic and I don't even think Michelle Rhee has that power (and she seems to be the Voldamort of superintendents).

SERVE is completely dependent on the supplemental levy passing. What?!?

Well, one good way to thwart the district is to vote down the levy. Instead of being used in the manner it was presented to the public (and hmm, that might be in violation of the state law, I might have to check as the State Auditor noted this issue in the most current audit), we see its real purpose. No wonder they didn't say what they would use the funds for in years 2, 3, etc.

Maybe the work now is to defeat the levy. Of course, with the bad economy and the district having its hand out for yet a third time and the less-than-stellar audit of how the Board and the administration manage the district, it might not be so hard.


Sahila said…
I tried to post a comment on the Alliance blog SERVE thread as did Joan NE but they didnt publish them... for awhile there, they were allowing critical comments through (for which I congratulated them) but they have now resorted to gatekeeping...
Sahila said…
If you want to influence what content the Alliance puts out, friend them on facebook and post there.... I did that for a while till they 'unfriended' me...

I did the same with LEV and Stand for Children.... also unfriended from there once I started to post stats disputing their perspectives... and their blogs are controlled completely...
Anonymous said…
More specifics of the 'closed' contract negotiations.

Sahila said…
Its off to court we go, its off to court we go, hey ho the deery-oh, its off to court we go... to file yet another lawsuit against the Seattle Public School Board/District, this time for arbitrarily and capriciously renewing its contract with NWEA, producers of the standardised MAP tests.... filing at 11.45am today...

Why dont you come and join the party?
Sahila said…
King County Court House, 3rd Avenue, 6th Floor, Clerks Office...
Eric M said…

SERVE: Subjugate, Eviscerate, and Reduce the Value of Educators.
MathTeacher42 said…
I left a scathing comment a few days ago on the Alliance For Lies "Blog", and it hadn't appeared yesterday.

Someone commented about the impact on working families of every other Friday being an early release -

to me, these kind of policies don't reflect cla$$ war, they reflect cla$$ cluele$$ne$$ -

once again, the education policy people from the leafy neighborhood$ haven't a freaking clue what life i$ like for the bottom 80% - the bottom 80% without the re$ource$ of the au pair & nanny cla$$.

hello out there you professional managerial hot shots - do you know that many large employers in retail do NOT classify their employees as "full time", hence eligible for their measly "full time ... ha ha ha ... benefits"

employees are NOT classified as "full time" unless their open to open scheduling - NEVER the same shifts of work from week to week, NEVER the same days off ??

try finding out about the lives of those working who serve you by talking to the servant cla$$ about THEIR lives, instead of whining about how hard it is to get a good 1/2 day maid service.

Charlie Mas said…
The Times hasn't run a news article about the labor negotiations, just that "guest column" that was supposedly written by Richard Conlin and Tim Burgess.

Why hasn't the Times reported on SERVE? Could it be just their usual lack of attention to school news? Are they waiting until there's some news? I would think that the statements by the District (describing SERVE) and the SEA (telling the truth about SERVE) would be news enough.

The Weekly hasn't written about it because it doesn't involve sex or food. The Stranger hasn't written about it because it doesn't involve sex or music.

Director Martin-Morris hasn't created a blog thread about the contract negotiations; he's still regretting his last two - the superintendent's evaluation and the state auditor's report.

The League of Education Voters isn't talking about it at their site.

The Alliance blog isn't a place for news.

Yep. Other than this space, it's pretty quiet out there.

Too quiet.
suep. said…
Hey Charlie,

I agree with your assessment of the lamentable lack of local media coverage of the teachers' contract negotiations, but for this line:

Other than this space, it's pretty quiet out there.

We're covering it over at Seattle Education 2010 too -- so you're not alone!

Have a look:

Parents Against SERVE


Even Bloomberg Businessweek Questions Bill Gates’ Ed Reform Investments


Sue Peters
Charlie Mas said…
Thanks for the correction!
Mr. Edelman said…
Wow. Now the district has sent color brochures of their SERVE propaganda to homes of teachers. I received mine in the mail today.

How much did that cost?
Sahila said…
Why doesnt the SEA file a lawsuit agaainst the Super for communicating direct to teachers, in contravention of labour relations rules?

I am going to ask Olga this myself!
MathTeacher42 said…
Sahila at 8/6/10 9:11 PM -

why doesn't the union go on the offensive instead of whining?

toadies to the rich and powerful have been lying about unions since BEFORE the 40 hour work week and BEFORE child labor laws.

all our dues money can fund is whining that toadies lie ... ??

my family was on welfare when I was a teenager in the 70's - as my draftee stepfather would say, "whining and dime will get ya a coffee".

our dues money can't fund more than whining that the toadies of billionaires are toadies?

kprugman said…
There's a whole set of procedures that have to be followed including mediation and the district has to be given time to respond to complaints that have to be filed with the Department of Labor and then there's an investigation with fact finding and then the union has to vote on whether they should strike. The union reps are elected. Its truly the most Democratic organization in the United States. Attend a national convention and you'll see what I mean.

The unions that run into occasional trouble are usually at an impasse. That's your negotiating teams responsibility. Striking is not considered part of the process...but its nice to have solidarity - the union backing the bargaining team. Anyone can pass a resolution and hold new elections if members don't like their union representatives. You can't do that with administrators.

Performance pay divides teachers. The present system is better. Steps are based on tenure and education. A Masters Degree is always a good thing on any salary schedule. That individual is a committed team player. Performance pay won't protect those individuals from unscrupulous administrators.

Your state also prevents government employees from blowing the whistle on their supervisors. Pay can be withheld during an investigation. The supervisor is made aware of the whistleblower who then proceeds to have that person fired. That individual was your taxpayers' first line of defense. Go blame your politicians for that little oversight. An attorney general should never be made a governor.

The purchaser at my site was removed from her job because she said (her words) - she's 55 and she went verbal on the principal because he wasn't following established procedures. He became retaliatory. There is one 4 foot shelf of filed complaints on this one individual alone.

After 50, most of us have learned to smell what is baloney.
kprugman said…
Its interesting - with the DOE - because complaints about curriculum get filed within the school district. Complaints about discrimination get investigated by the DOE.

The lack of a satisfactory curriculum creates the conditions for discrimination. Getting a curriculum on the state's list of approved materials is pretty simple when the state is so lax about who can sit on the committees that reviews curriculum.

The writing of curriculum is not considered all that difficult - thousands of textbooks get submitted for approval. Perhaps we should take more time to evaluate what's good and what isn't so good. Perhaps if our 'experts' were more honest in their appraisals of textbooks, more students would be more successful in school.

Supervisors have a variety of ways they can abuse teachers that are verbal. Some of them enjoy making other people's lives so miserable, that they compare it to pulling legs off insects.

They can retaliate against individuals by putting them into certain classrooms where the risk of getting fired increases a 100-fold.

I've seen many teachers simply leave my site out of sheer frustration from the classroom they were expected to teach in.

What looks impossible to nearly everyone else is being attempted on a daily basis, five periods a day, by very well-educated, motivated, and hopelessly optimistic individuals. I don't find any waste going on in that room. You're not even allowed to blink and something happens. The teacher in that classroom either knows damage control or its a temporary condition.

Look at the job openings in your state. The most infamous districts always have positions available in mathematics. The most experienced staff are sometimes the ones most at risk of losing their jobs.
kprugman said…
I wish I could think of something good to say about the DOE. File a complaint and you'll see what I mean. What's the point? ahahh-haha
Charlie Mas said…
Another site goes silent as Director Martin-Morris closes his blog.
Sahila said…
it feels like they're circling the wagons...
SC Parent said…
I think what would resonate with the general public is that the District should stop implementing new programs it doesn't have the money for. They're spending money today and keeping their fingers crossed they can convince the public to pay for it tomorrow.

The District fails the standardized test of managerial competence.

Reject (the District's) poor performance. Reject the audit.
kprugman said…
SC parent is so right. The board signed up for programs they had no business buying when they didn't have the money to pay for them in the first place. Brings back bad memories of other school boards and administrators gone wild. Give them the ritalin - the last thing they need is a blue pill.
SC Parent said…
So sorry about my fingers and brain were moving at different speeds. I meant to say...

Reject (the District's) poor performance. Reject the LEVY.
vvarun said…

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