Friday, August 20, 2010

Hey, It's Friday Open Thread

Winding down on the dog days of summer here.

Question to get you started: do you support the upcoming supplemental levy? Why or why not? Need more info?


Charlie Mas said...

Here's the thing.

The District keeps talking about accountability. Accountability, accountability, accountability. it has been an obsession for the District for the past three years.

Yet, despite all of this talk about it, I have yet to see even a single example of accountability anywhere in Seattle Public Schools. Three long years and not one single example.

The part of the District that I find the LEAST accountable is the District headquarters. The people there break the rules, give false information, and do poor quality work all the time, yet they are never held accountable at all.

They aren't even apologetic when they get caught. Has anyone heard a word of remorse over the $7,000 retirement party for 70 people - $100 a plate - with live music and a carving station? It was completely against the rules and was paid for with misused District credit cards. It appeared in the State Auditor's report, but has anyone heard so much as a peep that sounded like an admission of wrongdoing? Not me.

If the District executives are not going to hold people accountable, then it falls to the superintendent. If the superintendent is not going to hold people accountable, then it falls to the Board. If the Board is not going to hold people accountable, then it falls to the voting public.

That's where we are. It now falls to the voting public to hold the District accountable. They can do that by rejecting this levy.

The District had balanced their budget before they knew that they would have a chance for this money. It is purely supplemental funding. Nearly all of the levy money is going to be spent in the central administration, not in classrooms. We can express our insistence on accountability without hurting the kids.

This is the perfect opportunity to let the District know that we want some of that accountability we've been hearing about for the past three years and we want it NOW.

Pete Rose said...

I am voting no. They need a clean audit before I give them more.

Dorothy Neville said...

I am voting NO.

I have started a website devoted to explaining my NO Vote and why others should join me in voting NO.

Please join me at:

TechyMom said...

undecided. I need to see what it's paying for, in detail.

I find the acountability argument appealing, but if there are enough things that we really need in the levy, I'll vote for it. I also plan to vote against most incumbant board members when they come up for re-election next year.

Dorothy Neville said...

Techymom, see the link to the Board Resolution and see the official explanatory wording available on my blog.

They want this for more curricular alignment and for other central administration activities, such as coaches (professional development). They talk about creating new programs and perhaps enhancing ones already in place -- but it is all that Vague Excellence for All Close the Gap rhetoric.

Math and LA textbook adoption and curricular alignment were supported with grant money. They now want state taxpayers to fund Science curricular alignment. Is this the most crucial thing to do with emergency money? Do you trust the same folks who gave us the Math and LA curricular alignment to do Science? Has the math adoption helped close the gap?

Melissa Westbrook said...

It's pretty vague stuff Techy Mom and of course you need to remember that in the end, once it's voted in, they can spend it on whatever they want.

Most of it is going to Central Administration and not in the classroom.

And someone help me out here. The money for the incentives for the SERVE plan is coming from the levy (they have said this and boy, where else could they get it?).

So how does this work for negotiations? Could the teachers say okay to SERVE but contingent on the levy passing?

Or what if the district convinces them to sign the contract, the levy goes down and whoops, no money for the merit pay?

I'm wondering how that discussion will work out.

Also the SEA is not taking any stand right now (and probably not working for) the levy because they want to see how the negotiations come out. If, for whatever reason, the SEA decides NOT to help with the election and a large number of teachers (regular levy voters) decide to vote against the levy, the levy might be in real trouble.

TechyMom said...

Do you mean this? There aren't any specifics in there that I can see, other than curricular alignment (which I don't support).

Once the teacher contract is settled, I think we'll have a better idea of what they will actually spend the money on.

I voted for the last levy because it included sprinklers for my daughter's school, which will allow us to have after-care. That is the sort of detail I'm looking for. I don't see it in that doc. I assume it will exist before November.

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Jennifer said...

you haven't heard much complaint from teachers? I think that you haven't been listening very hard then! Teachers are scared, scared for their kids (students), scared for their schools and scared about the path education in Seattle is taking.

seattle citizen said...

Charlie, you write that "Nearly all of the levy money is going to be spent in the central administration, not in classrooms"

...unless the new contract stipulates these new expenditures (1% for those who sign up for SERVE, and those that receive the new stipended "highest standardized test scores bonus" of 2500, 1500, 1000, and 500 for the principals, to boot:

1000 teachers x $600(1%)= 600,000
500 teachers x $1000( ?)= 500,000
20 principals x $500 = 10,000
= 1,110,000

Isn't that supposed to be paid for by the levy?

So THAT money will be going into the classrooms (wallets of teachers) and principals (500 descretionary for remediation of teachers)....I guess, now that I think about it, the 1.1 million WON'T be going into the classroom if the contract includes it and the levy passes...it will mainly go into the wallets of teachers. Not a penny for more I.As, unless the principal decides to spend her/his 500 on a 0.05 FTW IA....That 500 is the only money coming into the school via that little chunk of cash.
Willing teachers get a raise of levy monies, whilst other items on the levy are unfunded, as they have no union to ensure that contracted levy item is enacted.

SC Parent said...

I'll vote against the levy. Based on the District's spending pattern, it's clear that they have plenty of money to pay for the things THEY WANT (parties, consultants, new textbooks/testing programs). But, they claim to never have enough money when it comes to the important things.

Because of this (and to respond a bit to TechyMom's comment regarding what the levy is paying for) - I would bet that the levy is going structured so that it pays for things most people would feel their children can't do without (class sizes, kindergarten, teacher pay, building improvements, new paint and HVAC systems, some brilliant new program, maybe even paying to keep the heat and lights on). Why? Because the District knows that no one would approve a levy if it was going to pay for consultants, but what kind of a monster would vote to turn off the heat and lights in the classrooms?

That's why, to me, it doesn't matter what they say the levy is going to pay for. Looking at the big picture and considering the District's budget as one big pot of money, if the levy pays for some things, that frees up other budget funds to be spent elsewhere. Therefore, the real issue for me is "where have the district's budget priorities been, and do I want to support funding those priorities?" because supporting the levy indirectly supports those activities. THAT is where the money will be going.

I have yet to see any attempt at real prioritization in how the District allocates their funds - at least none that I agree with. They can't even keep TRACK of their money and act dishonestly, as the audit makes clear (hence Charlie's concerns regarding accountability). Passing the levy would be an incentive for the District to continue the status quo.

Going back to my analogy... if the levy fails, it doesn't actually mean that the heat will be turned off and the lights will be go out. What it means is that the District won't be able to have live bands at retirement parties, won't be able to spend millions on consultants, and won't be able to continue sticking their head in the sand when it comes to knowing where their money comes from, where they keep it, and what it's used for. They will need to start actually managing their budget!

dan dempsey said...

The MATH disaster in the SPS and why it will continue....

After almost four years in opposition to the "Fuzzy Crap" the district prefers we are none the closer to persuading the Central Administration that they are clueless.

As usual I will attempt to back-up my statements.

Common Core Standards writer Dr. Wu of UC Berkeley provides today's GOOD STUFF.

Wu discusses the Mis-Education of Math Teachers.... this describes the SPS perfectly. Any elementary teacher that received inservice training in Everyday Math has seen Wu's description of mis-education up close and personal.

I wonder how many of those math coaches would fare on a test of mathematical content knowledge?

Check the web for SPS academics math..... you will find:

"Mathematics is the language and science of patterns and connections. Learning and doing mathematics are active processes in which students construct meaning through exploration and inquiry of challenging problems."


It seems the principle requirement to be an SPS math coach is to be a huckster for the "FUZZY" pedagogical crap the Central Admin is still selling.

Stop funding this mathematical mess. Recall the "5" school directors that continue to enable the incompetent administration.

Accountability = ZERO in so many places with the current leadership.

Sahila said...

Appearing on a YouTube channel near you now:









Bear Eater said...

Hi Melissa,

I'm an SLP who has worked for the district for... a long time.

Brilliant comments taking the board and GoLoJo (Goodloe-Johnson) to task.

Before this I was a small-time newspaper reporter. Your work here is outstanding.



Sahila said...

Two articles that need comments:



zb said...

I haven't decided how I'm going to vote yet. In general, I think there's not enough money spent on education. As a guide, the private schools in Seattle spend 18K or so (have to figure out how financial aid impacts that tuition number)/student, and that's while serving a select population of students. And, I don't see lots of money being wasted. Given that, I don't see how SPS is going to cost a lot less (yes, bigger class sizes, fewer services of various sorts, but also more students with special needs, both learning, and other).

So, in general, I vote for school levies. I do not believe that the lights will be turned off if we don't vote for the levy, but I also do not think that all we'll be giving up is the trimmings (retirement parties).

But, I am starting to get worried about accountability. In general, I've dismissed some of the accountability claims on this blog and elsewhere as a subset of parents feeling that the SPS isn't being accountable to what they want (be it transportation, sprinklers in their schools so that they can have an after school program, band, . . . .). I thought the conflicts results the SPS making decisions to be accountable to others as well (taxpayers, children in under performing schools, poor children, their teachers, staff etc.).

But I can't make the $7K retirement party and the SPS attitude about it fit, with any amount of testing, within that hypothesis. It's not the 7K that bothers me so much (that's not much money in the big span of things, and the reason why fixing that kind of spending will do little for the bottom line or the need for the levy), but the attitude about it. They clearly violated people's perception of rules, and they don't seem to care. That's not accountability to a sub-population other than the one I come from -- it's accountability to no one).

The problem is that I fear that its cutting off the childrens' noses to spite the administrations' face, and I don't see how we're going to get around that.

Unknown said...

As zb said, "The problem is that I fear that its cutting off the childrens' noses to spite the administrations' face, and I don't see how we're going to get around that." That's why I'm voting yes, even with the audit.

Patrick said...

I haven't seen the language of the levy yet. But I'm leaning no.

I'd like to be able to vote yes, but if the levy is going to high-stakes-testing teacher bonuses and coaches and consultants I am against it.

I'd like it to be for smaller classes and deferred maintenance. (I'd cheer for it if it was for buying out MGJ's contract...)

Dorothy Neville said...

The money isn't going to the children. There isn't more money for schools or programs. It will all be handled by central administration, except for the meager 1% raises for the opt in teachers.

For those that are swayed by seven thousand dollars here's a question for you? If MGJ or some donor ponied up the money to reimburse the district for, would you change your minds and vote yes?

We know that some Title 1 and LAP money -- which is supposed to be targeted at kids in need -- is kept by Headquarters instead for their projects, their decisions on who they will target.

How about I-728, remember that Initiative? Specifically targeted to reduce class size? Want to guess what percent of that money was at the discretion of the schools (and could reduce class size or something else decided at building level) and what percent was kept by Central Administration for *their* use?

I am sorting through some information about that right now. Wow.

Charlie Mas said...

I would not count the money from the levy that will be spent on boosting teacher pay as "going into classrooms" because the teacher is already in the classroom and is already doing the job. There will be nothing new or additional in the classroom for the students.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"And, I don't see lots of money being wasted.:

ZB, just because you don't see it, don't believe that all the money is being well-spent. I wish I didn't have to say that but when I hear the Auditor, year after year, tell the district that they are too top heavy in administration (and yet they keep getting bigger), tell the district to follow their own polices and regulations and promises (and they don't) and then we have the Superintendent believing it is okay to throw $100 a head party for 70 people, I don't believe our district is well-managed nor the money well spent.

And, as I say, I am still following up on yet another spending issue which I think will be worse than the $7k party.

And, there is still the BEX audit to come. Maybe then people will have had enough.

I think it sad that people want the money so much that even if some of it? half of it? gets wasted or misused, that's okay because some might trickle down to the schools.

I guess that's just how desperate the situation is.

Sahila said...

I am sure there is lots of money wasted... and not just because the auditor said so, or because the SPS admin division is severely bloated compared to other similar sized districts...

Who else heard the tradespeople at the Board meeting the other night, asking to keep some of their jobs because they've shown they do work in the district at a 10% if the cost outside contractors have been paid....

I heard it... and I thought - well, why should we be surprised at that, given the District's track record of stupid decisions on spending and building restoration cost overruns????

TechyMom said...

I thought ZB meant that he/she didn't see a lot of money being wasted at the private schools from the previous sentence.

I have to say, from my childhood, summer camp and touring experience with private schools, they do seem to be much better at stretching their money and spending it on the important stuff. Of course, that is a much easier thing to do when you have a small orgnaiztion with a more homegeneous population, who agree on what stuff is important.

another mom said...

" As a guide, the private schools in Seattle spend 18K or so (have to figure out how financial aid impacts that tuition..."

zb how did you come up with the dollar amount for per pupil costs in private schools? It certainly is not reflected in the tuition that is charged except for the very expensive ones like Lakeside and a few others. I did not do a thorough check but St John's in the N.end actually reports what they spend per pupil and it is $6981 with tuition set at $4981. There is a range in the rates of tuition, but even St. Joe's only charges $9530/year. I don't know what the per pupil costs are at St. Joe's but I doubt that it is 18,000.Yes, private schools do select their students and I am not suggesting that SPS does not have higher costs associated with some special needs kids, but I am curious at how you arrived at the $18,000/student number? It seems a bit high, but I can be convinced otherwise.

zb said...

"I did not do a thorough check but St John's in the N.end actually reports what they spend per pupil and it is $6981 with tuition set at $4981. "

I'm presuming that the religious schools are being subsidized (both with money and by teachers accepting for less than market pay) and with larger class sizes.

My numbers come from the secular private schools, though they may be skewed to the more expensive ones. And, as I said, I'm not absolutely certain how the decreased tuition from some students plays out in the per/student funding, but I was presuming that fund-raising was compensating for scholarships.

zb said...

"I think it sad that people want the money so much that even if some of it? half of it? gets wasted or misused, that's okay because some might trickle down to the schools. "

Yes, that is the way it is. I have some number in my head for acceptable waste. It's probably greater than 5% and less than 50%, and I'm not sure exactly where it is. I think some waste is inevitable. What bothers me about the 7K on the party is the breaking of rules and the arrogance -- a different reaction than finding that someone had spent 7K more for, say cafeteria food, 'cause they didn't get the best deal.

You're throwing up the possibility that 50% of the money would be wasted. That's a lot. But, I'd need to see better evidence that it's that high.

Will the teacher's contract be in place before the levy? I'd be more weary of voting for it before I saw what agreement the district had come to with its teachers.

Anonymous said...
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hschinske said...

Private school tuition typically covers only about half of the expense of educating a student -- at least so say all the fund-raising materials that I see.

Helen Schinske

Megan Mc said...

I will likely vote no. The money is never going to see the classroom and the district needs some kind of slap to get its attention that they are out of line. What reason do they have to change their behavior? The auditors can't do anything, the board members wont do anything and the elections are not for 2 years away.

Anonymous said...
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dan dempsey said...

The next school Board elections are primary in Aug 2011 and General November 2011. That is for the class of 2007: Sundquist, Maier, Martin-Morris, & Carr.

Hopefully individual recall petitions for those 4 + DeBell will be available for signatures in mid-September.

Recall 5

SC Parent said...

Melissa, looks like we could use a thread discussing the actual cost of private school/student. I'd be interested to see more data on that and relative class sizes and amenities.

dan dempsey said...

Check this out at the WALL STREET JOURNAL:

Putting Teachers to the Test

It includes:
There are also other concerns about the measures. Low-income students have been shown to lose more ground than their wealthier counterparts during the summer, so a teacher in a less wealthy part of town may see her scores deflated because of the time spent to get students back up to speed.

In a paper last year, University of California, Berkeley economist Jesse Rothstein showed that there is a strong correlation between teachers who score well on these value-added measures one year and how much their students gained the prior year. That implies that teachers who do well in these systems are benefiting from favorable classroom assignments.

Another concern is that rigorous evaluation and the threat of loss of tenure or job security might make teaching a less desirable profession, thereby forcing school districts to spend more to attract the same pool of candidates, as Hansen cautioned in a recent Urban Institute paper.

This NWEA/MAP idea is using an incredibly inappropriate test. Couple that with the ideas in the complete WSJ article and wonder what dullards put this on the table near the end of contract negotiations.

Oh I forgot this has been the plan since MGJ came her in 2007 and got the bonus groundwork going for this plan.

Had enough yet?

Recall 5 for a good start. Then fire MGJ with cause for credit card misuse or whatever you else you like it is a pretty long list. Check her record as School Board secretary.

SC Parent said...

I apologize for getting on my soapbox again, but I feel it's important to emphasize - it doesn't matter what the levy says it is going to fund. This is a referendum on the District's irresponsible spending and their attitude about what is appropriate to spend taxpayer dollars on.

It's not just the $7k retirement party. It's that I've never heard an auditor call out an organization like that. In auditor-speak, the auditor said: The District and the Board, in their oversight and how they spend money, are negligent and might be corrupt." That's not me being inflammatory - that's what the auditor meant. There are systemic problems related to oversight and accountability at the District and Board that are compromising our children's education. In my opinion, a vote for the levy is a vote AGAINST our children.

Montessori in SPS said...

After reading this Open Thread, I would like to ask readers to go back to Melissa's original blog about the 7k retirement party . There, once more I wrote about our program partnership and my concern about its closure at Ballard High.

I would like parents and teachers to come to a better understanding about how this program focused on the well being of both children and high school students in the Child Development Lab. Apparently the Child Development Lab was built into Ballard High using BEX funds, if that means anything.

In the past six years, our partnership brought together people of all ages around the topic of human development, social- emotional health and brain development throughout the lifespan.

Our collaboration with Family and Consumer Sciences resulted in combined efforts to coordinate separate related organizations around these important topics. High school students, Teachers, children and families were reaping benefits .

another mom said...

Gail - I am sorry to appear stupid here, but are you suggesting that in order to restore the program at Ballard we need to pass the levy? I am confused.

As a taxpayer who has no children in SPS but cares about the public schools, I am very concerned about the current administration. A $7000 retirement party is one thing, but an over 1 million dollar misappropriation of capital funds is a grave concern. My understanding is that the district was directed by the state auditor to restore the money. That money comes from the general fund. When one factors in the set aside of Title I and LAP money for pet projects, a disturbing pattern begins to emerge.

I have no doubt that the early childhood ed. program at Ballard was a great program, and is worth my tax dollars to support. However, it is very hard for me to look past the gross mismanagement in SPS. My fear is that the few things that I have mentioned are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

dan dempsey said...

The Ballard Child Lab was killed by the New Student Assignment Plan boundaries.

It was really important to the politicians to make those boundaries around Ballard and Roosevelt as big as possible.

Cleveland STEM needs to pull 82 kids out of Ballard by 2115 to make the NSAP work even with the Child Lab closed.

Another great reason to recall "5" school directors.

This levy is not going to change NSAP boundaries. The NSAP boundaries lawsuit filed by Glasscock and Ovalles might.
G&O did a wonderful job of arguing pro se against the district's hired gun from Olympia in Superior Court. No decision yet from Judge Inveen.

Sahila said...

Sent to the media this afternoon (and SEA leadership and SPS Board members), in my name:


Seattle Schools' Superintendent Maria Goodloe Johnson's has pulled a last minute "bait and switch" in putting forward her SERVE proposal in the current contract negotiations.

Her actions violate the trust, good will and collaborative work the District and the SEA have undertaken over the past two years, in coming up with an appropriate, professional performance management tool (Professional Growth and Evaluation Plan).

Additionally, several Gates and Broad Foundation-funded lobby groups have been disseminating inaccurate information relating to the current contract negotiations and the issues involved.

Therefore, Seattle Public School community members felt the need to create clear multi-media messages to inform the public of the basics of the issues in contention.

Appearing on a YouTube channel near you now:












Sahila ChangeBringer
tel: 206 679 1738

dan dempsey said...

Don't miss this one from the WSJ.

Needs Improvement: Where Teacher Report Cards Fall Short

WSJ graph from Florida shows:

Of the teachers who scored in the top 20% of teachers... the next year 60% of them did not.

Of teachers who scored in the bottom 20% ... the next year 70% did not.

Now imagine what Seattle would look like with the ridiculous NWEA/MAP test results .....
$4 million a year for a crackpot plan.

This is driven by Arne Duncan nonsense ....

The U.S. Department of Education has pushed states to loosen restrictions on evaluating teachers through student test scores. To be eligible for a piece of the $4.35 billion in competitive grants in the Race to the Top federal program, states can't have laws barring a link between student scores and teacher evaluation. And states are scored in part based on whether they evaluate teachers using test results.


Decisions are not based on reason.

Check the data this is insanity. Get Principals to do their job and get Seattle a New Superintendent and some new school board members.

Unknown said...

I understand people's frustration with the District's mismanagement of money. But I don't think that voting against the levy is the right move. Despite some people's doubts, students will suffer if the levy doesn't pass. We are going to have another round of big cuts at the state level next year and SPS will likely take a big hit. Support the levy and use other measures to pressure the District to use the money effectively.

dan dempsey said...

"Support the levy and use other measures to pressure the District to use the money effectively."

"other measures to pressure the district: ..... really .... like what?

Sure thing lets toss some more funds away ... while we come up with ... other measures.

TeacherType said...

As a relatively recent addition to SPS, I understand why many who post comments are dubious about the levy and how it might be spent. In my tenure here, it does not seem as if there is central office accountability and transparency. It also seems in the time I have been here, the central office is growing exponentially without exponential student growth or closure of the achievement gap.
When SPS speaks of curriculum alignment, it is a ruse and a money drain to undereducated consultants. Curriculum should be common statewide and developed by state curriculum directors in conjunction with district curriculum leaders from all districts. Why should SPS teachers and coaches be asked to develop local curriculum, when excellent examples of curriculum exists in other states? How can we be expected to compare students or even judge teachers by normed test scores when each school in this district and each district in the state has a unique curriculum and pacing guide linked to vague state learning standards. This state and district cannot even agree on recommended courses, course curriculum or course materials. Rather than waste money on more curriculum alignment the district and state should wait for the upcoming national standards and adopt them. There is no need to waste money on our own little game when national standards are less than five years away.
This district is overly top heavy and relies on voters to fund wasteful practices like curriculum alignment and coaches for flawed curriculum materials.
Parents and SPS watchers should hold district leadership to higher standards. If leadership wants to play at being Chicago, New York or Washington DC, then they should at least be on the same playing field of academic standards and accountability.

gavroche said...

TeacherType said...

Parents and SPS watchers should hold district leadership to higher standards. If leadership wants to play at being Chicago, New York or Washington DC, then they should at least be on the same playing field of academic standards and accountability.

(...) Rather than waste money on more curriculum alignment the district and state should wait for the upcoming national standards and adopt them. There is no need to waste money on our own little game when national standards are less than five years away.

Good lord let's hope SPS leadership doesn't make Seattle like DC, Chicago or Detroit -- all messes and failures of ed deform.

As for the "upcoming national standards" of which you speak, I've read that these "Core Curriculum" standards (supported by Gates, by the way) are lower than the existing Washington State standards. So why the heck should Washington or Seattle wait for or adopt these? It would be a serious step backward.

See Cliff Mass' recent post on this:

"Microsoft, the Gates Foundation, and Math Education: a Depressing Tale"


Now they are working intensely with the Obama administration on national math standards (“Common Core”). Check out their website on this subject: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/foundationnotes/Pages/vicki-phillips-100603-common-state-standards.aspx.

Now perhaps national math standards could be a good thing if they were strong, comparable to nations that lead the world in the math competency of their students. But the current version of the U.S. Dept of Education’s Common Core math standards is not strong. In fact, they are far weaker than the new Washington State math standards that we have worked so hard for. And weaker than those of California, Indiana, and other states with world-class standards.

wseadawg said...

Spoke with a Lafayette parent recently whom informed me that the school halls were so crowded that parents aren't allowed to walk their kids to class. That was last year. This year, they're adding two more classes.

Nice work school board.

Thanks for ruining your own neighborhood schools Sundquist!

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Melissa, looks like we could use a thread discussing the actual cost of private school/student."

I would do this but I don't think there's any way to get the "actual" costs or benefits. These are private schools so the info is, well, private. You could probably find some general figures online but comparing private and public is very difficult.

If someone else wants to do the research, sure, let me know and I'll post it but not me.

"Support the levy and use other measures to pressure the District to use the money effectively."

Okay, define other measures. There is NO pressure that I know of to get the district and the Board to use the money effectively. I know I have tried and many others and again, once you vote it in, they can use the money ANYWAY they want. For them, that's the beauty of levies and bonds. As long as you don't go outside the bounds of what the money can be used for, they can spend it anyway they want.

Rose M said...

a Bryant teacher told me that they are up to 620 students & climbing. Eckstein staff says they have 38 per class and waiting to hire teachers. They are adding more students each week.

I wonder how long they will be able to hold those new boundaries?

Patrick said...

SeattleTeacher, it seems like this levy if it passes will be fully committed to funding the token salary increases for those teachers who agree to let the Superintendent fire them at will, bonuses for those teachers whose students show good test scores, plus coaches and consultants. If this levy passes, the levy capacity will be used up and we'll actually be less able to stand cuts in state funding.

ParentofThree said...

I would like to know when I could expect my students transportation letters. One is starting a new school, would be nice to know when the bus will pickup/drop off so I can start to plan my childcare needs.

Teachermom said...

I am not voting for the levy. The amount of wasted dollars I see flying out the window leads me to believe that money must be plentiful, and something else is wrong.

Lori said...

The transportation office told me earlier this month that the letters about the bus would go out "the week of August 16th." We have not received ours yet, and like ParentofThree, it would be really nice to know the whens and wheres so I know if using the bus is even feasible (ie, an hour-long ride each direction will make me seek out carpool options).

I found it really ridiculous that they went to the expense of mailing out a letter a few weeks telling us to expect the bus to be late the first week of school and asking us to let them know if we don't plan to use the bus. See, I sorta need details before I can tell them whether we will use the bus or not. Couldn't they have saved postage (by 50%) by doing one mailing that also included the route info? But I guess 41 cents per family times two isn't a concern to anyone.

Meg said...
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Meg said...

I'm voting against the levy. Why? In no particular order of importance:

1. SPS is top-heavy, spending too much on admin and not enough on the classroom. I'd be more than happy to back that claim up for anyone who'd like me to.

2. SPS has a track record of taking money intended for the classroom and spending it on administrative functions. I-728 money, for instance, was intended to reduce class sizes - SPS only spent 40-50% on class size reduction (compared to 80% for both Spokane and Vancouver)

3. SPS has a track record of funding district management's priorities by pulling funds from a variety of other pots, often screwing over core programs in schools. Performance management is a good example of this - it skimmed millions (yes, millions) from Title I and FRL, and also pulled LAP funds. Many schools with disadvantaged kids lost significant funding because of the decision to create a performance management slush fund, and with the loss of funding, those schools are losing the ability to support their vulnerable kids (and hmmm, do you think that the loss of support will be taken into account in teacher evaluations? I wouldn't hold my breath). FYI: the district insists that it is not a grant program, but part of a "framework." I think it looks, walks and quacks like a grant program. Almost 10% of the performance management grants went to... Cleveland. Is that damning by itself? No, but it sure as hell doesn't smell quite right. Although performance management grant info is available by a public records request, it is not available on the district website... and yet, isn't performance management something the district believes in? So why wouldn't they want to show how they're investing that money? And whether it worked or not? Isn't that pretty basic accountability? Okay, I derailed into ranting there. Pardon me.

4. SPS doesn't have a great track record of responsible, clear-sighted decision-making; true costs are either not anticipated or not revealed fully, and/or are regularly subject to unforseen consequences that cost a great deal more than was estimated than at the time the board voted on it. I'd be happy to provide examples (STEM).

5. The audits. Crikey. They are horrible. Two worst audit reports for WA state school districts. Two worst audit reports for SPS. Phrases like:

"As a result [of errors and omissions], financial statement users do not have accurate information to evaluate and understand the financial position of the District"

"The Board and District management are not as familiar with state and federal law on school district operations and on the use of grant funds as the public would expect"

and - what put my eyebrows near the top of my head -

"In all of the areas we examined, we found lax or non-existent controls in District

It really kills me to vote no on a levy for schools. But I don't believe that the district is using the money it already has responsibly. And there's not a shred of evidence right now that indicates SPS will use additional money wisely.

lendlees said...

As usual, Meg, you manage to say what I've been thinking so much more eloquently than I ever could.

So, ditto what Meg says. I will definitely not be voting for the levy.

Josh Hayes said...

Thanks, Dan, for that interesting data:

"Of the teachers who scored in the top 20% of teachers... the next year 60% of them did not.

Of teachers who scored in the bottom 20% ... the next year 70% did not."

Doesn't this vitiate the entire underpinning of assessing teachers by student test results? How can over HALF of the "top teachers" one year suddenly cease to be "top teachers" the next year? Answer: they don't. They're just as good today as they were yesterday - and your assessment methods do not reflect that, and therefore: your assessment methods are wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Dorothy Neville said...

Please folks, if you are against the levy, will you help defeat it? This will take some effort. We have no money, we have no flyers, no robocalling ability. We need to work together -- get social media involved.

I set up a twitter account, please follow defeatthelevy and retweet to all your friends, I started a blog -- the hope is to have all the evidence one needs clearly in one place. I still need to set up a Facebook group. Any volunteers for that?

Schools First will try to attend PTA meetings to gather support and funding. Since this is a new off cycle levy, monetary support from the PTAs will not already be budgeted. Make sure to contact your PTA officers and be present when Schools First comes asking for support and money. Do you want your PTA money paying for robocalling you to support the levy?

Any suggestions? Volunteers? Anything? My email address is now in my profile.

seattle citizen said...

League of Education voters is bringing these three people to town to have a discussion:

Richard Barth, CEO – KIPP Foundation
Timothy Daly, President – The New Teacher Project
Steve Barr, Founder & Emeritus Chair – Green Dot Public Schools

It's part of their "Voices from the Education Revolution Speakers Series.

zb said...

My gut impression is that the non-religious schools in the city spend substantially more per student than our public schools do, but I think more number crunching would be in order to really figure it out.

Some information is available about Lakeside spent 30,000,000 last year to educate about 800 students. That works out to spending of 37K/student. Even if we impute substantial costs to things public schools don't have to pay for, my guess is Lakeside spends a lot more per student than SPS high schools. Mind you, I understand that they're Lakeside and taxpayers probably can't afford to provide that level of service for all the students in Seattle. But, I think it's important to know what that kind of education costs when we think about how much we need to spend.

Lakeside also pays its head of school $330,000.

(from charity navigator -- unfortunately, Seattle's other pubic schools aren't listed, so we can't look at the same numbers for other schools)

Lakeside charges 25,000 in tuition, and offers 30% of their students substantial financial aid. they also raised 1.3M in annual fund giving last year.

seattle citizen said...

"Richard Barth joined KIPP in December of 2005. As CEO and President of the KIPP Foundation, Barth has overseen the growth of the network from 45 to 99 schools. During Barth's tenure, he has led the significant expansion of KIPP's leadership development programs, recruited new outside directors to the board, advocated for high performing charter schools on Capitol Hill, built a strong leadership team and secured over $50 million in new, long-term philanthropic commitments as well as $50 million in federal funding. He also serves as President of the KIPP Foundation Board of Directors. Barth came to KIPP from Edison Schools, where he served as President of District Partnerships and managed school partnerships serving over 40,000 students. Prior to joining Edison, Barth was one of the founding staff members at Teach For America. He earned a BA in American History from Harvard University. Barth is an Aspen Institute-New Schools Fellow. He currently sits on the board of directors of The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems and Be the Change, Inc."

"Timothy Daly is the President of The New Teacher Project (TNTP). Since his appointment in 2007, he has helped lead the organization’s efforts to end educational inequality by aligning policies and systems to better support teacher effectiveness. Prior to his appointment as President in 2007, Tim served as Vice President for Policy, helping to launch a team that published influential analyses of teacher equity issues in school districts such as Portland, Milwaukee, and New York. In 2009, he played an instrumental role in shaping the publication of The Widget Effect, a groundbreaking exploration of our failure to recognize or respond to the differences in teacher effectiveness. Tim has been with TNTP since 2001 and previously worked with teacher pipeline programs such as the NYC Teaching Fellows, which today has more than 9,000 active teachers in over 1,100 schools across New York City. Tim began his career in education as a Teach For America corps member at Northeast Middle School in Baltimore. He holds a BA in American Studies from Northwestern University and a MA in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University."

seattle citizen said...

"Steve Barr founded Green Dot Public Schools in 1999 with the vision of transforming secondary education in California by creating a number of high-performing charter high schools using available public dollars. Under Steve's leadership, Green Dot became the leading change agent in the region, starting in fall 2000 by founding one of the first comprehensive public high schools in the Los Angeles area in thirty years. In 2008, Green Dot began to operate Alain LeRoy Locke High School in Watts, re-structuring it into eight small public schools.
Green Dot's leadership in pushing for improved public education led the Los Angeles Times to name Steve as one of 100 most influential people in Southern California in 2006. In addition to leading Green Dot, Steve is a State Board of Education appointee to the Advisory Commission on Charter Schools, where he provides policy recommendations to the State Board of Education on charter school-related issues.
Prior to founding Green Dot, Steve held a number of leadership positions in political and social service organizations. In 1990, Steve co-founded Rock the Vote. The Rock the Vote campaigns and field efforts led the way in the first upward surge in 18-24 year old in voting since the passage of the 26th Amendment. Following Rock the Vote, Steve led the successful efforts to pass the Motor Voter Bill, which was signed into law in 1994 by President Clinton. Thirty million Americans have registered to vote via Motor Voter.
Steve hosted President Clinton's National Service Inaugural event, which led to the creation of Americorps. He then oversaw an Americorps after-school program project in South Central and East Los Angeles that focused on helping single mothers transition off of welfare.
Steve has been active in politics throughout his professional career, serving several presidential campaigns and as a finance chair for the Democratic Party. Additionally, Steve has helped drive political change through television, as a national correspondent on the nationally syndicated Disney-produced "The Crusaders", as a contributor to Discovery Channel's "Why Things Are?", and as a writer in national magazines such as George. Steve authored "The Flame: An Unlikely Patriot Finds a Country to Love" (Morrow, 1987)."

seattle citizen said...

hmmm...and what IS "The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems " that Richard Barth, of KIPP, Edison and Teach for America is a board member of? let's see:

Well, first off we already know that our superintendent is a graduate of the Broad program, and also sits on the Broad board (along with Barth), but here's the synopsis from the Broad site:

"The mission of The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems is to raise student achievement by recruiting, training and supporting executive leadership talent from across America to become the next generation of urban school district leaders. Established in 2001, The Broad Center identifies talented leaders from education, business, the military, nonprofit organizations and government who have the passion, knowledge and skills to take on executive leadership roles in urban education. The Broad Center operates two leadership development programs: The Broad Superintendents Academy and The Broad Residency in Urban Education.


The Broad Institute for School Boards is a national training and support program for urban school district governance teams of school board members and superintendents. The latest offering of The Broad Institute is Reform Governance in Action, a training program for reform-minded school board-superintendent teams to establish efficient and effective policies and processes that will improve board operations, strengthen management oversight and directly improve learning opportunities for students."

seattle citizen said...

and what IS the Reform Governance in Action (RGA) offered by Broad to school boards and superintendent "teams"? I wonder if our board has already been "invited" by Broad to get this stuff? Is our board being trained by Broad?

"The inaugural programs of The Broad Institute have evolved into the more intensive Reform Governance in Action (RGA), which is a long-term training and consulting program for selected large urban school districts. The program is based on “Reform Governance®,” an innovative framework for school district transformation starting with the role and focus of the school board. The objective is to establish a high-performing school board/superintendent team that uses efficient and effective processes to develop, approve and implement major reform policies to directly improve student achievement and narrow the achievement gap. Participation in RGA is by invitation only and requires deep commitment to transformation-level reform by both the board and the superintendent"

seattle citizen said...

and why are these under the category of "investments" at Broad? What is the return they anticipate? Is it to steer more business to KIPP, Edison and Greendot? To support Teach for America? To provide a corporatized structure for the "executive" superintendents to function in, free of those pesky unions? Is it to steer tax breaks to hedge funds? What?

seattle citizen said...

A good article describing "Reform Governance in Action is located here:


It describes what we see with "performance management," "alignment" etc. I had no idea whole school boards were being trained in this stuff. Interesting read.

Megan Mc said...

@Seattle Citizen, I just sent the LEV a couple of suggestions for reform leaders that they could invite:

Diane Ratavich

Diana Senechal

Susan Ohanian


Jerry Mintz

Sahila said...

Our Board members have already been indoctrinated by Broad...

About 18 months ago, when I tried to point Harium in the direction of better school district/learning institution admin/governance models, he wrote back with a list of literature each board member was given to read, including Don McAdams stuff, and McAdams is a former Broad Academy boss and I think still sits on the board...

And that Agreement the Directors signed in 2007, handing over their power to MGJ? Straight out of the McAdams model...

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, I hate to break this to you but LEV is bringing the head of KIPP and Green Dot to Seattle to speak in October. More on that later.

dan dempsey said...


It is interesting that LEV apparently gets lots of funding but not much from the patents it claims to represent.

Who made the selection to bring in Green Dot and KIPP leaders?
How many of those parents LEV claims to represent requested this action?

How much will this cost? and who really is paying for it?

So how much longer do we need to watch TEAM MGJ and the Board Majority run the District into ruin?

It seems there is a large plan that hopes the public will rebel against continued Admin Bloat, crazy instructional materials, bizarre decisions, etc. and demand what LEV is selling?

Otherwise why in the Board repeatedly ignoring evidence in making their decisions?

The relevant data if intelligently applied supports very few of the proposals that MGJ put before the school board, yet at least four members of the Board are never able to apply the relevant data. That just screams... CONSPIRACY to me.

The Videos that amaze me are watching Maier and Sundquist explain their supportive votes when I've provided them huge evidence to the contrary that they never reference in their explanations.
(1) "Discovering Math" for High School .. complete with stacked adoption committee.
(2) New Tech Cleveland contract for $800,000
(3) MAP testing
(4) MGJ contract extension .. Harium explained the extremely narrow Strategic Plan focus on which she was evaluated and completely ignored the State Audit. It is a five year plan and Harium sees this as right on Track after year two ... too bad for Harium that Brian Sontag and his team see it differently.

LEV is just part of the BIG TEAM driving this farce and MGJ knows exactly what she is paid to do. The Board Majority has no intention of standing in her way ... as they are agents for "Increased corporate philanthropy" as in they are part of the BIG SELL OUT.

seattle citizen said...

As noted in his bio, Barth, of KIPP, is connected to Edison, Teach for America, and sits, with our supt, on the Broad Board.

LEV calls this a "panel" discussion. I thought panel discussions included a diverse range of ideas. I guess this is more like a "rah rah" session to further advertise the Broad product.

LEV is becoming a sham, if it weren't already after publishing that "survey" and the creating the Our Schools Coalition to bring to bear the political aspirations of Burgess and the desire for power of the powerless.


seattle citizen said...

Be very afraid: This was written by LEV on their blog (by Connie Gerlitz)

"We need teachers that find a way to reach the ones that really need their help – the others will do it on their own. We don’t really need school at all for those bright, enthusiastic, healthy/wealthy, self-motivators – they will do it on their own."

Your motivated and energetic student "will do it on their own."

Melissa Westbrook said...

Seattle Citizen, thanks for pointing that out. I was so busy being unhappy with Ms. Gerlitz's point that "we can't fix poverty" and that teachers need to also be social workers and doctors that I missed that paragraph on her belief that school is only for the poor or struggling.

Arnold said...

Despite the fact that I have 2 children in SPS, I will not be voting for the Levy for the following reasons:

1.Unacceptable State Audit. Over the years areas of deficiency went from 2-13. The State Auditor reports public assets are at risk due to ineffective policies and oversight. I am unwilling to give this incompetent District more of my hard earned money.

2. The District's mismanagement of funds which result in loss of classroom dollars i.e. 1.8 million dollars will be coming out of the general fund because of the small business blunder.

4. I do not want to support a 4 million dollar SERVE program that will use MAP testing to fire teachers.

5. I do not believe money will be seen in classrooms.

6. This is my way of protesting Gates-Broad philosophy with use of public funds.

7. I do not believe we should be spending large amounts of money considering we are facing our third year of cuts from Washington State. Did we really need to spend this money to update the District Web Site?

8. I do not want my children leaving school early for continuing ed. They already miss too much school.

I think we have to cut this District off in order for them to be fiscally responsible. Additionally, I am hoping the teachers will strike. I think this is the only way we will be heard.

dan dempsey said...

I do not want the teachers to strike. I want them to continue working under the old contract until the District leadership comes to their sense and agrees to a reasonable new contract.

What do the teachers lose by continuing to work under the old contract?

A lot less than if they strike and are vilified by the District and then likely court ordered back to work.

There is plenty of research that exposes this NWEA/MAP SERVE proposal as a complete farce. We just need to bring it front and center. (see my posts under Plethora of Reading)

No matter how the SERVE value added modeling proposal comes out .... there are an enormous number of other reasons to vote against the levy.

Who in their right mind would give this crew more money from a third levy and expect them to ever change?

Do you just keep giving your lunch money to the bully forever?

Dorothy Neville said...

In 2001-2002, Guess what percent of the Seattle PS Operating budget was spent on Teacher Salaries?

No, really go on and guess first, before reading the next comment.

This was during the Weighted Student Formula, site based decision making, and therefore ought to have had a streamlined central office.

Dorothy Neville said...

Here's the answer.

28.8% of the operating budget was spent on classroom teacher salaries.

Reference, page 27 Table 5

Wonder what the percent is today?

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, if we look at most of the rhetoric of the "reform" movement, the idea that school is just for the "struggling" is central. Perhaps the reformers don't care if "motivated" and "healthy/wealthy parents and guardians bail out on public schools - they're busy reforming the whole package into one addressing the needs of only the non-motivated and non-"bright" (? dumb?!) students.

We see this everywhere: the use of race to deliniate "groups" as suffering while ignoring the individual success and failure of unique students; the growth of charters almost exclusively in impoverished parts of the country...

Perhaps there is a desire to allow those who can move to private schools to do so; the vast masses of urban poor will be served by "public" "non-profits" using these simplistic pieces of "data" (WASL scores....MAP...) to justify and continue the sale of public assets to private interests.

Note that it's ALL about the groups that supposedly don't succeed, it's ALL about all those bad teachers...nothing about the many and myraid successes public schools have had, none of the wonderful and adaptable teachers...

Yet the whole public school system is utterly changed by the reforms directed at the suffering "groups" - the whole public school system is downgraded to a remedial status.

Unknown said...

If you are a teacher on facebook, consider joining the group "Teachers' Letters to Obama."

Arnold said...

Seattle is an educated city. I am proud/ thankful for our community that exposes the undercurrent of our District. I've heard a lot of edu-babble from our administrators. I'm grateful for our community that states the facts that our District omits. I'd love for Seattle to be the District that rejects the Broad-Gates, Arnold Duncan influences etc. Am I dreaming?

none1111 said...

Arnold, I echo all 8 of your points without reservation, especially #1 and #5.

I disagree about wanting the teachers to strike, however. I think Dan's idea of continuing to work without a contract is much better, for the reasons he states. A strike would make the teachers look like the bad guys in the eyes of the general public in addition to adversely affecting tens of thousands of families. If the district were to lock them out, that would make the district look bad.

I will not be voting for this levy. Actually, to be more precise, I WILL be voting AGAINST this levy. And I will be asking other friends who are not knowledgeable about SPS affairs to do the same.

This is where we, as a group that keeps up on school issues can work together. Everyone needs to make it a point to talk with a handful of voters over the next few weeks - not necessarily parents! - and let them know why we, who have vested interest in the situation, are not supporting this levy.

Heck, I think I might just print out a few copies of Arnold's 8-point list above and keep some in my wallet to hand out when I think about it. It's short, and easily digestible. Others?

dan dempsey said...

Connie Gerlitz gives a great explanation as to why our best students educated in public schools are miserable by comparison to those from other nations.

Gerlitz states:
"We need teachers that find a way to reach the ones that really need their help – the others will do it on their own. We don’t really need school at all for those bright, enthusiastic, healthy/wealthy, self-motivators – they will do it on their own."

This clearly in not working out well for many advantaged US students attempting to head into math/science intensive fields and failing because of inadequate k-12 education.

Now you know why this deplorable situation continues:
the Connie Gerlitz crowd does not GET IT.

Thanks to LEV for making this clear.

Someone said...

Off the top of my head, these are the changes that have happened in the last few years:

- Everyday Math (where's the Singapore?)

- Discovery Math

- Later start times for elementary kids

- Closed schools and continued overcrowding at many schools

- A push to standardize and eliminate alternative or successful programs

- Splitting of the APP program

- Administrative reduction of summer school offerings

- Administrative reduction in schools eligible for Title I funding

- Standardized testing being proposed as a means to evaluate teachers

It's a struggle to find a change that actually has the potential to bring about real and lasting improvements within the district. Looking at the above it becomes a list of reasons to vote against the levy. It's a tough choice.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good idea, None 111. Dorothy, maybe we should make some copies and hand them out at PTA meetings, School Board meetings, endorsement meetings, etc.

I don't know enough about labor law; can you continue working without a contract? Can the district lock you out and create a strike? How does that work?

kprugman said...

The Commercial Club hired corporate consulting firm A.T. Kearney to write Ren2010, which called for the closing of 100 public schools and the reopening of privatized charter schools, contract schools (more charters to circumvent state limits) and "performance" schools.

Reform is unapologetic about its business-oriented notion of leadership. John Dewey thought it should be avoided at all costs.

Ren2010 states: 'Drawing on our program-management skills and our knowledge of best practices used across industries, we provided a private-sector perspective on how to address many of the complex issues that challenge other large urban education transformations.'

Duncan's advocacy of the Renaissance 2010 plan should have immediately disqualified him for the Obama appointment.

Education reform is being operated like a hedge-fund.

When Obama speaks for Sen. Murray, please let him eat the cake, he's been feeding us.

SP said...

School Board Committee meetings this week- anyone attending (and reporting back)?

Mon. 23rd
C&I meeting- no agenda posted yet (due Fri. afternoon).

Tues. 24th & Thurs. 26th
Audit & Finance Committee- Agenda posted for the 23rd includes the line, "August 26 – Audit issues."

Is anyone planning to attend the 26th meeting? Unfortunately, I'm out of town, but I'm very interested in the newly formed Audit Response Team's required monthly report to the A&F Committee, as outlined in the July 6th News Release titled "SPS establishes rigorous process for addressing financial year 2008-09 audit findings".

The news release also states that the A&F Committee "will establish additional measures to ensure issues are corrected and progress reported to the School Board and to the public." I look forward to reading this report also (how will it be published & where?).

Also, for Wed. 25th, there is a Board Workshop "re: FEL goals, Budget goals."

SP said...

re Accountability, issue-specific corrective actions resulting from the audit (from the July 6th News Release referred to above):

"Additional corrective actions
In addition to the corrective measures already put in place, Seattle Public Schools will assign a senior
level staff member to oversee the audit response project team, which will be charged to:
• Develop issue-specific corrective action plans for each finding or area of concern;
• Identify and recommend to the School Board any policy changes needed to strengthen
internal control and accountability;
• Design and implement a robust training regimen to ensure all appropriate staff understand
and are able to follow all policies and procedures related to internal controls; and
• Monitor progress and report monthly to the Seattle School Board’s Audit and Finance

Will the Audit & Finance Committee be addressing at the 8/26 meeting each issue-specific corrective action plan for each of the audit's finding or areas of concern?

Meg said...

I cadged babysitting for Thursday afternoon; I'm planning on attending the Audit & Finance meeting.

Dorothy Neville said...

I like the idea of having a one page quick list of Reasons to Say No.

Is there anyone who could edit it up nicely and turn it into a pretty and professional looking PDF?

I can put it in a public location on the web and we can all print it off and give copies to friends and neighbors and pass out at PTA meetings.

If someone has the graphic design skills and volunteers to do this, please contact me. My email address is in my blogger profile.

Dorothy Neville said...

Seattle Parent:

At Wednesday's Board meeting Harium said that Monday's C&I meeting would be all about discussing WAIVERS. Could be very interesting.

Dorothy Neville said...

Here's a first cut at a talking points memo. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

In an attempt to educate the public, I am willing to stand in front of grocery stores, sporting events etc. Also, I'm willing to hang documents on community bulletin boards. I'd also include Maria Goodloe Johnson's relationship to NWEA.

Sahila said...

Wendy Kopp of Teach for America is married to Richard Barth of KIPP and they both sit on the Broad Board with our own Maria Goodloe Johnson...


Full 'connect-the-dots, follow-the-money' diagram coming soon and it will blow you all away, I promise....

seattle citizen said...

as noted, Richard Barth, in addition to coming from Edison, is also on the board of Teach for America, where his wife works. Cozy.

Sahila said...

his wife doesnt just work at Teach for America, she founded it and runs it....

and if I read it correctly recently, TFA just got $40Million form the DOE.....

OH, AND DID YOU KNOW.... Gates paid for the AFT conference held here in Seattle a few weeks ago, buying himself a guest speaker slot.....

Stinky, Stinky Denmark.....

seattle citizen said...

So Kopp, CEO of TFA, has her husband on its board? How conVENient! Not very professional, but hey...

Sahila said...

what about any of this is professional or ethical?

If any of you have any lingering thoughts that these people are altruistic, please drop those idealistic fantasies down the toilet and flush...

this is all about power, control and money regardless of how its come by and not about anything else....

wait till you see the "follow-the-money" diagram, coming to a blog posting near you very, very soon...

kprugman said...

Might as well through in two more cents. I think you have two threads going on about the same thing.

Nice to see all the names on one agenda. At least they're organized.

A Summit Hosted by Mayor Kevin Johnson

AGENDA as of 2-13-09

7:00 am – 8:00 am Registration

8:00 am – 12:30 pm Morning Plenaries
Welcome: Kevin Johnson, Sacramento Mayor

Panel Discussion: Educational Options
Panel Discussion: Accountability for Results
Panel Discussion: Human Capital

12:30 pm – 2:30 pm Working Lunch
Summit Discussions: Sacramento Focus

2:30 pm – 3:00 pm Closing Session
Report-out from Summit Discussions
Closing Remarks: Kevin Johnson, Sacramento Mayor

Featured Speakers:
o Reverend Al Sharpton
o Cory Booker, Newark Mayor
o Joel Klein, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education
o Michelle Rhee, Chancellor, DC Public Schools

Confirmed Panelists:
o Larry Berger, CEO and Co-Founder, Wireless Generation
o Tim Daly, President, New Teacher Project
o Josh Edelman, Executive Officer, Chicago Public Schools Office of New Schools
o Mike Feinberg, Founder, Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP)
o Howard Fuller, Board Chairman, Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO)
o Larry Rosenstock, Chief Executive Officer, High Tech High
o Don Shalvey, Founder, Aspire Public Schools [My note: Shalvey is now with the Gates Foundation]
Two thirds of the EEP stooges, Rhee, Feinberg, Gates, CPS, and a host of pro-charter advocates. KJ's white paper reflects the panelist's points of view: bring in TFA/alt. track teachers, bring in New Leaders for New Schools, push more charter schools and EMOs, give each school a grade based on test scores (a la NYC), tie teacher pay to standardized test scores, and use market-based rationale to improve school systems.

Why not add all the wives. uncles, aunts, and make school reform a family thing and then add in some basketball players and the terminator? Sounds like an Obama recipe for what? School?

LAUSD just finished a 4200 k-12 school for $889 million. How's that for school reform. Its the next headquarters for Green Dot.

Sahila said...

$127,000 from the Gates Foundation to the AFT for 'conference support'...


Unknown said...

Dorothy Neville -- As to the collaboration days, most of them will just be more district bs, not really a chance for teachers to do any meaningful collaboration. This from the union FAQ:

..of the 19 days they offer for collaboration, 5 are district directed, 7 are principal directed, and only 7 are staff directed.

Dorothy Neville said...

Thank you Mary, I knew that most were not staff directed but hadn't dug up the details. I just added that to the Talking Points Memo.

Arnold said...


I'd add 4 million dollars will be spent on SERVE which utilizes MAP tests, weight placed on teacher evaluations and flaws of this exam.
Again, I'd mention Maria Goodloe-Johnson sits on NWEA board.

Dorothy Neville said...

Thanks Arnold. I am trying to get all the facts included, yet not be too long or technical. Please look over the latest edits and suggest particular wording changes that would help clarify.

ParentofThree said...

I looked over these talking points have a couple of recommendations.

Remove the word "scathing" in two places. Is an opinion, not fact.
(Although I agree.)

Also you quote Mismanagement is costing $1.8 million - you need to back that figure up or remove the talking point.

Dorothy Neville said...

Parent of Three, yes, I will remove that adjective. Always good to delete the opinion adjectives (but sure tempting to add them!)

The $1.8M is from what Melissa found out about the small business program that was improper, so the money has to be moved from operations to capital budgets. I will double check that with her and find verification.

none1111 said...

Hi Dorothy,

I applaud the effort to put together a list of talking-points, but if I could suggest one thing it would be to consider the intended audience very carefully.

Arnold's list of points was, for the most part, very easy to digest and personal. I think for people who don't follow district happenings, and even those who don't have kids, something more like that is more appropriate than a more complete, detailed document. Especially important is not requiring any a priori knowledge. I'm thinking about friends without school-age kids, people you know casually in your community or at stores where you shop, or even for handing out in front of a storefront (sounds like some people are up for that).

What I'm reading in your google doc is something that's more likely to appeal to folks like us that hang out here on the board and go to district meetings. Perhaps more than one version is the way to go...

Please take this only as constructive criticism (and I'm sure there may be other opinions, which is fine). I'm with you on defeating this particular levy, but it's going to be a tough sell in this city, and you can bet that between now and November there will be some big bucks coming to the pro-levy side from some of our well-heeled MGJ cheerleaders.

none1111 said...

So I guess I ought to make an effort since I brought it up. Here's a quick cut I made at editing Arnold's points. Changes in bold.

Despite the fact that I have 2 children in SPS, I will not be voting for the Levy for the following reasons:

1. Unacceptable State Audit. Over the past N(find this) years the areas of deficiency went from 2 to 13. The State Auditor reports public assets are at risk due to ineffective policies and oversight. I am unwilling to give the current (incompetent?) District administration more of my hard earned money.

2. The District's mismanagement of funds which result in loss of classroom dollars. 1.8 million dollars will be coming out of the general fund because of the district's very serious error in funding a project that provides free training and management services to small businesses. There have been several mistakes like this in recent years.

3. I do not want to support a 4 million dollar SERVE program that will use MAP testing to fire teachers.

4. I do not believe money will be seen in classrooms because the current administration has a track record of misappropriating such funds for pet projects.

5. I do not believe we should be spending large amounts of money considering we are facing our third year of cuts from Washington State. Did we really need to spend over $700,000 right now to update the District Web Site? 

6. I do not want my children leaving school early for continuing ed. They already miss too much school.

I think we have to cut this District off in order for them to be fiscally responsible.


I'm sure there could be many more tweaks, but this is already pushing too long. It should be accurate, but doesn't need to be complete.

Couple things to note:

I took out the reference to Gates-Broad. Very few people in this town know about Broad, much less care about his efforts, and they're certainly not going to read up on it. Gates is well-loved by many in this area for his philanthropic efforts (some of which are great). Bad-mouthing them will not help the immediate cause.

I think it's really, really important to emphasize that a NO vote on this levy is not a NO vote against schools, but THIS PARTICULAR ADMINISTRATION and the crappy things it's doing right now. If nothing else, this is the one thing we all have to work on in our conversations with "regular folks". And in our posted comments on the Seattle Times articles, etc.

Dorothy Neville said...

None1111 I understand. I did like Arnold's talking points, but hesitated to use that sort of personal language in a more general talking points sort of way.

There were aspects to Arnold's list that also seemed like needed more explanation, like the Gates-Broad and the website restructuring.

So *how* to maintain the most personal and engaging tone of Arnold's post yet make things as clear as possible? Plus, I didn't know how much I could plagiarize his words.

I'd be more than happy to open the document for other editors, if that's desirable.

none1111 said...

After typing all that I'm going to backpedal just a bit.

I still stand behind my comments in general, but what you're putting together is certainly appropriate for any of us to use as a guide in discussions with others. If that's the intent, great. It's just not something that I think would be effective as a handout for people to read on their own. Sorry about any possible misinterpretations.

none1111 said...

I see we're cross-posting-reading.

I agree the personal tone might not be perfect in all cases, not sure what to do about that. Maybe others have ideas? But for me it all fits perfectly, even the 2 kids part. It's the kind of thing I'm inclined to print out and carry a few copies with me to give to anyone that I think might have any interest. True grass roots. If it works for lots of others, that'd be great.

I doubt Arnold would have any problems with plagiarizing - I think we're all on the same team right now! But doesn't hurt to ask.

Dorothy Neville said...

Hey all, thanks for the conversation on a shared set of talking points. I hope this is useful collaboration.

I think both ideas are great, a set of personal-toned objections and a more general outline for those who want to discuss in more detail. I'd like to add links to each fact, but for now I have to go grocery shopping.

46th Dems have already endorsed the levy, but I plan to talk to them anyway somehow. I have contacted 34th, 36th and 43rd district DEMs. None have an endorsement listed yet. I am hoping that I or someone else can attend their meetings if they do discuss this. If I am missing a district, please let me know.

Jan said...

Dorothy: I wonder if you also want to consider changing the word "misappropriating." Legally, it has a "malfeasance" connotation that I think may not be strictly correct if, as I understand it, there is no LEGAL obligation by the District to spend levy funds on X or Y. It might be better to just say "diverted." (To this end, it would be great if someone has, or if we can develop, facts as to the practice by the district in past years of promising levy uses of X and then afterwards using the funds for Y. My guess is that, in some cases, use of levy funds for things that were not noted in the campaign is not very egregious -- an unforseen, but truly better, use for the funds may have come up, etc. etc. - but from other comments on this blog, it looks as though in some cases funds were used for things that would clearly have been known/identified potential uses beforehand -- and the district just did a sort of bait and switch, campaigning on the use of levy funds for things they know are compelling to voters -- and then spending the money in other ways (central administration salaries/coaches who never interact with kids but divert precious teacher time for dubious benefits/top down curriculum realignment that no one I know ever asked for, etc.)

Another thought -- since you have a blog/website for this, it might be useful to post your more detailed analysis (and concrete examples) at the website, and so indicate on the short "hand out." That gives readers a specific place where they can go to get more details on all of these things -- like the details of the repayment obligation, the other audit findings, Meg's point on the misuse of I-728 funds (in comparison with other districts), etc., and it gives you the ability to ALSO add details on OTHER repayment obligations -- such as the one that came out of the missed deadline for the Native American money (where the district has just said that that there will be no loss of funds to the program, because they will fund it from general fund money), etc.

Not everyone who might be inclined to vote "no" on the levy will agree with many of the commenters to this blog on the merits (or not) of Gates money, Broad influence, teacher evaluations, RttT money, etc. All we REALLY need to get to agreement on is (1) that the District handles funds so poorly, and is so unresponsive to feedback (whether from parents or the state auditor) on its stewardship of tax dollars, that we need to turn off the spigot until they get the message and clean up their act, and (2) that this is an ideal levy to do this on, as most/all of the funds are slotted for central administrative stuff -- or for "incentive" payments under SERVE whose benefit is highly speculative and not backed by any research.

Dorothy Neville said...

Jan, Thank you for the comments. I love this, that we are using the "cloud" for shared document building. It would be grand if I could actually open the document up for others to edit. I could do that, either by inviting folks or by opening it up for the entire world to edit.

I felt that the latter choice was perhaps a bit dangerous and no one has provided me with email address to invite. But I am happy to continue this way, to discuss the edits in this forum and comply as best I can.

The nice thing about having the document all in one place is that anyone can cut and paste it to their own editor and tweak it to your liking for your use. We don't all have to have the exact same wording.

That said, let's see. The misappropriations line comes from the comment from Arnold (and others?) I see what you mean. I am not sure if he's referring to previous Levy money or Title 1, LAP and I728 money. either way, diverting is probably a better word.

I do have entries in my website with details about many of the points on the talking points, not all yet, and perhaps not in the best edited format. But I agree that is what is needed, specifics to back up every assertion.

What would be really grand is if someone who had some time and writing skills would be interested in helping with the website, punching up the current entries and adding new entries to cover all the relevant points. Anyone interested???

Dorothy Neville said...

Oh, and since this talking points thing seems to be doing so well, I was thinking that it could be on the front page of the website I created with links documenting each assertion. Blogger offers enough flexibility in layout to do that, I think.

Anonymous said...

Good points None 1111. I appreciate the input. I agree when discussing topics with public it is always best not to get personal, but keep information objective- especially when dealing with Bill Gates. It might be worth saying something like "Bill Gates is a wonderful man but past involvement with education reform hasn't been succesful i.e. small schools within high schools. I have to do more research on this to get costs etc. Also, Broad- Gates are advocating for use of public assets which bulk up administration costs and doesn't keep dollars in classroom. The District had to pay over 300K for mishandling of Native American program. Will that money be taken from the general fund? I have to review the Audit, but would use the Audit as the bulk of argument. Again, I appreciate your efforts. I'll do research and will be back when possible.

Dorothy Neville said...

Did some more editing on Talking Points. Added a link to my blog describing in more depth the collaboration/instructional time issue. And Added a line at the bottom explaining who wrote this document.

Feel free to suggest changes and/or to copy the document and edit it for your own use!

Talking Points Against the Levy

Anonymous said...

@ Dorothy- Reuvyn Carlyle has show interest in the Audit. I'll continue contacting other government officials regarding this matter. Where is your web-site? Regarding talking points..i'd really focus on the Audit. I've been away. I'll really study it and get back to you. Also, I compared SPS's audit to other Districts (granted other district's are smaller), but other Districts are doing well.

Dorothy Neville said...

@ Dorothy- Reuvyn Carlyle has show interest in the Audit. I'll continue contacting other government officials regarding this matter. Where is your web-site? Regarding talking points..i'd really focus on the Audit. I've been away. I'll really study it and get back to you. Also, I compared SPS's audit to other Districts (granted other district's are smaller), but other Districts are doing well.

Dear anon, the website I mentioned is in a blog format, but is meant to be a site for sharing all the data useful for defeating the levy. the address is


There are links to the Audits AND links to Meg Diaz's blog. She has done some of the analysis you are looking for -- comparing our audit performance to other districts. And yes, NO other District comes close in having findings!!!

Please feel free to contact me and offer suggestions and/or volunteer to help. Thank you.

SC Parent said...

I just saw a great graph on Meg Diaz' blog that shows Seattle is 1 of only 7 (out of 120) school districts to have any audit findings in each of the last 4 years. When you look at the graph, though, it is painfully obvious how terrible district and board oversight/management has been.

All the other districts are around 1-2 findings (with the exception of Sunnyside, which peaked in 2008 at around 6 findings but improved down to one this year).

Why can't Seattle get its act together??

# of Audit Findings for SPS (estimating off Meg's chart):
2007 - 2
2008 - 4
2009 - 7
2010 - 20 !!

Thank you, school board, for such effective oversight. SPS has great momentum now... the wrong direction!

StepJ said...

I doubt the Little Teddy Stoddard story qualifies but thought of our Supe. when I saw this article.

ParentofThree said...

Long newsletter article from Director Maier:


Sahila said...

parentofthree... can you post another link/address to it... I cant get the one here to open?... or maybe post the text here, broken up into parts to comply with the 4,000 character limit per post?.... Would love to see what Maier has to say for himself....

none1111 said...

The URL is fine, you just have to copy/paste it. Not sue why you're having problems, but here it is:

Blah blah from Maier, twerp that he is.

none1111 said...

One quick note from his write-up.

Levy: $48 million total
- $6 million will be used to replace worn out text books and music materials
- The balance, $42 million will be "used to support reform efforts and to support student achievement."

So in case you were wondering, 6/7 (or 85.7% for those of us who still know how to do math) looks like it's headed for reform and/or central office pet projects.

I wonder if anyone will push for him to change his description of where the money is going.

Sahila said...

You do know why Maier is doing the PR self promoting pitch now, dont you????

He's in danger of being recalled... doesnt look good on the resume!

WV thinks it's all a dorkyli(e)...

Dorothy Neville said...

"Levy: $48 million total
- $6 million will be used to replace worn out text books and music materials
- The balance, $42 million will be "used to support reform efforts and to support student achievement.""

Good catch none1111. What I am trying to ascertain is how much of that $6M would be for books and how much for the staffing for the curriculum alignment and adoption process and professional development for the new materials. The resolution implied that the previous adoptions used state funding, but I recall that grant funding was used for LA (one of the reasons they were in a hurry, grant funding was ending) and I think some math adoption work as well. I need to find out more details here.

Arnold said...

We're expecting funding cuts from Washington State. Federal stimulus dollars will end. For some reason, I'm picturing the District wringing their hands and pondering where cuts will be made. During these times of State cuts etc., I'm finding it difficult for the District to spend 42 million dollars on so called reform. The District is asking millions for computers..I feel like spending is out of control and we will be seeing cuts to classrooms

none111 said...

Dorothy Neville said "What I am trying to ascertain is how much of that $6M would be for books and how much for the staffing for the curriculum alignment and adoption process and professional development for the new materials. "

OMG, hadn't even thought of that. They wouldn't try to sneak it in there, would they? Oh of course they would, as long as they can get away with it.

Can you really find out the details on this? It seems like this is the kind of stuff the administration wouldn't spell out in detail until or unless they absolutely had to. And if the board doesn't make them, I would imagine they'll keep it in a big "slushy fund" to allocate however they like at the appropriate time. If you really can suss out more details on this, please let us know.

Dorothy Neville said...


Would they do that? Say they want to buy textbooks but really that is shorthand for the whole adoption and curriculum alignment shebang?

Remember,they only get 250 words for the official Explanatory Note for the Voter's Guide, so they really aren't trying to slip one by us. Not really...

Absolutely. See my post on Textbooks which quotes the pertinent section of the board action report.

Dorothy Neville said...

None1111, so I already know that this is really for the whole curricular alignment which means "reforming" high school science classes so they all teach the same courses using the same books. What I do not know yet is how much grant money funded the math and LA curriculum alignment. Their action report version implies by omission that the Math and HS LA were done using general state funds. However, I am pretty sure that grants paid for a lot of that, so it is disingenuous for them to want state funds for this now.