It's Time for a Change



dan dempsey said…
This is an exceptionally poor video.

Change does not assure improvement. It is time for significant improvement. This video does absolutely nothing to convince anyone that significant improvement is being derailed by the actions of the Superintendent.

Devoid of evidence.
dan dempsey said…
Here is my letter to SEA Executive Director Bafia sent Tuesday Morning.

Dear Mr. Bafia,

In the spring of 2007 I was very critical of Everyday Math which was being pushed for adoption by the Central Administration.

Carla Santorno refused to meet with me after initially proposing I meet with her.

The real reason for her refusal of a meeting I believe was because I sent her a list of questions that we needed to discuss at that proposed meeting.

Ms. Santorno said I was mistreating her likely because she was a Black women and thus refused to meet.

I raised this issue of Ms. Santorno's false accusation with my union president Wendy Kimball who did essentially nothing.

During the last year I've seen WEA and SEA do, in my opinion, essentially nothing of substance in opposition to reform.

The failure to oppose Race to the Top was a WEA and SEA major failure.

The SEA has yet to effectively oppose any Board Action Report Recommended for approval.

The SEA failure to file legal appeals and adequately inform membership on a variety of issues I find very troubling.

The Cleveland Option STEM school laid the ground work for the coming September 2, 2010 situation.

It is really hard to believe that SEA Union leadership gets it this time around as thus far leadership hasn't got it in the recent past.

It is really puzzling as to why parents and the non-union public are the agents in opposition to the destructive actions brought forth by the District while SEA leadership does very little.

What is the SEA leadership doing or what have they done that would engender any confidence in the public that the SEA is mounting an effective opposition to the destructive actions coming from both the Board and Central Administration?

Thus far SEA actions seem to be more akin to the kind of opposition that Neville Chamberlain raised 72 years ago in conceding the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.

You need a public information campaign. Where is it?


Dan Dempsey
wsnorth said…
You know the video we need on Youtube? Take stills or short clips of MGJ at the board meetings - every time she yawns, every time she looks at her PC, every time she looks away from the speaker, leaves or comes in early.....just string them together and put as subtitles all the failed initiatives. "School Assignment Plan" (looks at Blackberry) "Everyday Math" (yawns) "School closures" (entering late) ... etc. THAT might make the point!
Sahila said…
WSNORTH... very, very cool ....can you make that happen?

I've talked to the union (at some length) offering them ideas on better messaging/packaging of their perspective and havent heard back (they may/may not pick up my suggestions without ever getting back to me)...

others have suggested we (Seattle Shadow School Board) take on a video project... we are all busy on various other aspects of this issue and not sure (yet) whether we will... we've also talked about asking media/tech savvy high school students to help with this... hard to get them onboard in the middle of summer ...

I have an issues and campaign platform pretty much completely outlined - just needs implementation... cant do this by myself (own life issues calling for attention) and no money to contribute, but would be willing to help, liaise, organise...

So, will you do the Youtube idea you put forward, or help with something else???

if you're interested, please email me at

and if anyone knows videographers who might be interested in helping pro bono, can you let me know?
Charlie Mas said…
Ha! A superintendent highlight reel!

I can think of a number of elements that could be part of that.
Eric M said…
If someone can start going through the board video footage and logging dates and video clock times, I can put together the video.

Also considering a video of kids talking about testing, and what crap it is. Could be powerful. I think I can get my son, who lost 11% of his knowledge over the course of last year, according to the MAP test. Know any articulate SPS kids who'd be willing to come forward?
Anonymous said…
Sometimes I imagine T-shirts with various sayings that could be worn to Board meetings:

Budget, Schmudget

I'll get back to you on that.

Mediocrity for All

Laptops for All (oops, we mean only at Cleveland)

"Erase" the Achievement Gap

(that's a reference to MGJ's Charleston testing scandal)

The list goes on...
wseadawg said…
Glad someone else said it.

That video is absolutely terrible, pointless, aimless, and doesn't impart any substantive information. In fact, I think it reinforces a view of untalented incompetent teachers, which is not at all representative of the talent that lies within SEA.


Were I a member of the public, I would assume these were the folks left behind at the union hall while the better teachers were called out on jobs. I know SEA isn't that kind of union, but I'm just sayin'.

Too whiny and gripey. C'mon folks.
Sahila said…
I have been sending the union my thoughts on the video by email and online on the SEA facebook page...
and offered my help... hope it comes to something, cos the current effort does not help!
kmk33 said…
Love the video ideas here! I don't mind the current video, I think the target audience is generally less informed than the readers of this blog. I am asked a lot by lawyers and tech execs why we even need a union in the first place. The ideas presented here are serious but have an element of fun to them that would help them go viral. If only we could get the old spice man to assist :)

A t-shirt idea I've had is a black t with white writing on the front that says "Size Matters" and then on the back is a list of reasons why smaller class sizes benefit student learning. Not work appropriate, I know, but I think it would get read. I don't have the cash or the resources to make it happen.

What are some thoughts you all are having for Wednesday's board meeting? I don't think I could rally too many folk to speak, but I might be able to get some teachers to show up.
Sahila said…
KMK33... why dont you and a couple of teacher friends get together and get T-shirts done for yourselves... and wear them everywhere... every bit helps... and maybe others will follow...

I know there are several teachers and (successful) math lawsuit appellants wandering around town wearing black t-shirts that have the words "arbitrary and capricious" on them, referring to the judge's ruling on the math materials decision...

and go put your ideas to the union directly, and on the SEA facebook page....

the union has lots of money - your money - to spend on this kind of thing....
Sahila said…
I dont know abut the board meeting on Wednesday yet...

I have some things in my own life that need attending to and right now, what I focus on/get done in the day is a day-to-day decision...
Lori said…
kmk33, I would buy that t-shirt and wear it proudly!

WV of mennin (perhaps the deodorant!?) makes me even more convinced that I want this shirt. :-)
Sahila said…
To Eric - Nova kids would be great... Have talked to them after a screening of Race To Nowhere and they were understanding of the issues but all focused on the coming summer holidays...

Also, they told me there are media and tech savvy kids at Center and Roosevelt and Garfield who might be able to help...

I havent had the entree there to follow up...
Charlie Mas said…
Items for the superintendent highlight reel:

* Her first Board meeting in which she promised to establish and maintain a database of everyone who testified before the Board and how their concern was addressed, and she promised to report to the Board with that data. Never done.

* Her texting on her Blackberry during public testimony wouldn't be part of the video as the camera is kept on the person speaking. Same with any eyerolling, chatting, or snoozing.

* Her recitation of the alternative education policy in which she inserts a word to change the meaning of the policy so that it appears that the community should be consulted regarding the hiring of the school secretary instead of the principal. And, of course, the ensuing non-reaction from the Board.

* Her active support for the use of the MAP assessment from NWEA before she disclosed her position on their Board.

* Her disclosure form in which she acknowledges her positions on non-profit Boards - but she leaves off the Alliance for Education.

* Her promises of community engagement on all of the Strategic Plan projects. None of them are meeting the protocols.

* Her promise of quarterly updates for the community on the Strategic Plan - since discontinued without notice.

* The ever-changing budget for STEM and the facility with which it is increased.

* Her expression of support and optimism around the new teacher evaluations developed collaboratively with the SEA.

* Her promises of accountability for the Southeast Initiative.

* The reading into the Board record of the various findings of Unfair Labor Practices committed during her administration.

* Her expression of commitment to more equitable access to popular schools and programs in the new student assignment plan.

* Her rationale for program placement decisions in 2009: "We aren't recommending it because we aren't recommending it."

* The Board vote that directed her to review and suggest revisions to Policy D12.00. She blew it off.

Anonymous said…
Let's not forget little Teddy Stoddard.
Anonymous said…
@ Eric- For your video ...SPS ties student achievement to MAP (although, document does not specifically state MAP).

SPS Video from 4/21 Part II (around minute 97). District employees state there is no mechanism to set student learning goals in place with MAP
LouiseM said…
I know three of the people in that video and have direct experience with two of them. They are the bottom of the barrel career government workers. Surely SEA can do better than that! Or can they?
Anonymous said…
I know that the Seattle Channel website is not run by SPS, but if anyone is seriously making a video compilation, allow me to suggest that you obtain and back up your source material.

You know, in case the server crashes, or the files become corrupted, or they decide to redesign the website all of a sudden...
Meg said…
Oh, dear. The SEA looks as bad as SPS here - lots of talk about historic blabla and change and caring, and what's proven... but not really anything in the way of actual information. If they gave hard facts (not the "truth" "myth" crap) with a highlight reel, of, say, the Superintendent demonstrating why they are wary of trusting her plans, it'd be easier to side with them.

If the SEA is trying to get the public to side with them, they probably need to acknowledge how bargaining often looks to the public - particularly in an economic downturn. Because often, unions that are asking for public money get a raised eyebrow and disapproval from the public - no matter how noble their work is. SEA needs to be honest with the public about what they're willing to give up, what they're not, and why, and what it is that they object to in what the district's proposing (and what they don't object to). Would all that honesty put them at a disadvantage at the bargaining table? It might. But if they're making it a battle in the media, this crap isn't going to win the hearts and minds of anyone. And really, honesty would be a refreshing change of pace from the district PR.

But that's just me.
another mom said…
Meg,well said. Both the SEA and SPS look pretty bad here, but my guess is that SPS will fine tune their message to capitalize on the anti public employee sentiment that is out there. I have already seen the anti union blow back in responses to newspaper pieces. The idea that teachers should be judged on results -meaning student test scores- resonates with people. They don't take the time to think through the variables and the fact that public schools and teaching do not fit a typical business model.

The union is such an easy target and demonizing the SEA by saying they are standing in the way of reform sounds reasonable to some folks even if it is not true.

Charlie has listed some pretty compelling reasons why the public should be wary of ideas springing from the current Sup. The SEA would be wise to use a few of his suggestions.
kprugman said…
After watching what looked like a cheap chorus line borrowed from some Greek tragedy, I agree with all of the above, SEA leaders could do better just keeping their mouths closed and maybe pretend they are smarter.
Anonymous said…
The SEA should list the ways they want to be made accountable. How do they wish to be evaluated? Or do they just want business as usual, no accountabilitiy, no evaluations (of substance), lifetime meal tickets all around? How should riffs and layoffs be conducted? Does the SEA just want continued seniority based riffs?

When every other professional has evaluations, often which aren't perfectly "fair", and which all have some amount of politicization, it's pretty hard to sympathize with the SEA, even if the MAP testing isn't perfect or even good.
kprugman said…
Where suddenly did we get the idea that teachers had no accountability?

This poor b****** pretty much summed up the life of a textbook writer.

Math teacher awaits verdict in fraud trial (Feb 2009)

Matthias Vheru is accused of making nearly $1 million by arranging for L.A. Unified to order 45,000 copies of his textbook without revealing his financial interest in the transaction.

Sipping a cup of coffee in the Los Angeles courthouse where he is on trial for fraud, math teacher Matthias Vheru said all he wanted to do was write the best algebra book possible to help his students and those of his colleagues.

"I spent my life trying to help underachieving kids," said Vheru, wearing a tie with a mathematical equation that read: 2 teach is 2 touch life 4 ever. "I'm just trying to make the language of math easy to understand."

Would Vheru have been willing to publish his own research just to sell his book to school districts? You bet he would.

Compare the research models used in other countries. Ours needs a serious overhaul.

Here's the research that was used to put Core Plus on Washington's list of adopted materials. The author is now the sales rep for Washington State. His aunt was a former state representative. His cousin directs the MSP at Western.

When you design a successful curriculum you must have an overall national goal in mind as to what you hope to accomplish. The problem with k-12 education is that there is none. If your desire is to produce engineers and scientists who'll create the jobs of the future than you have to educate them.

There should be more evaluative research, but even more important the textbooks have to go through a process of rewriting and refinement.

The use of push polls and surveys should not be considered research. If the UW Applied Math Department can get away with that, then anyone can.
kprugman said…
The unions operate within the scope of the laws. School boards have control over curriculum. And that's where teachers and parents made inputs.

But as Seattle parents know by now, the Board does what it wants. The board adopted Everyday Math, despite what they were told would happen.

Its easy to keep repeating "but research says". My administrators use that phrase all the time with us. The truth is they don't have a clue what they're talking about.

The board didn't hire their teachers because they were bad. If Seattle adopts a plan that ties student performance to teacher evaluations, you will see teachers pack up and leave.

If I have to live with liars, I prefer anarchy over tyranny.
Anonymous said…
This video gives no real information, has teachers repeating the same thing over and over again, and is not going to compel anyone in any directions. Plus, would it kill whoever made it to put a little effort into making the teachers look better and more professional? A little makeup and wardrobe interference could make us look a lot better.
Aunty Broad said…
a new video channel on youtube, run by someone called "auntyBROAD"

4 news stories from this spring/summer and an original about the Supe's connections to money..

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