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Friday, September 10, 2010

Open Thread Friday

So a new school year has started, the Superintendent wants to meet you, and there's a campaign to defeat the supplemental levy (Charlie and I are part of it with Dorothy Neville, Meg Diaz and Ken Berry.)

75 comments:

Dorothy Neville said...

In another thread, PurpleandWhite said: These meetings and standardization is insulting to me as a professional. The District has also communicated that ONLY the courses that are part of the alignment will count towards high school credit (as communicated to us this week - if someone comments and wants to talk to me, I can forward the email). Why do they say they even want highly qualified teachers if all we're going to do is test prep (for the end of the year tests that will come with the standardized / paced curriculum?).

My email address is in my profile. Can you please forward the emails that talk about only aligned courses counting for credit?

I am very interested in this with respect to the levy. One of the things people LIKE about this levy is that it will provide textbooks for HS Science and Social Studies and middle school LA. BUT what needs to be advertised is that the Levy Resolution makes it clear that the $6M for textbooks includes curriculum alignment, textbook adoption and professional development. So, what they REALLY are proposing is continuing on the path of standardization for these departments, the same thing they just did for math and HS LA.

Is this what parents, students and teachers want?

Arnold said...

The School Board Calendar scheduled a Superintendent re-evaluation on Sept. 8, 2010.

Does anyone know anything about this?

ttln said...

token to appease the public image of how things run here? IDK

Melissa Westbrook said...

Arnold that "re" here means "about". The Executive Session is "re" (about) the Superintendent Evaluation.

Having said that, yes, why did they revisiting this? ARE they going to reevaluate her?

E-mail your Board member and ask.

Unknown said...

what happened to the menu on the calendar? Now everyone has to print out 10 pages. such a waste! urghhhhh

StepJ said...

I am very concerned about the Levy and the monies dedicated to creating Curricular Alignment in our music programs.

Would that mean that all music instructors would have to teach from District approved/selected materials?

We have nationally recognized music programs. I don't want these already excellent programs to be tampered with/broken.

owlhouse said...

Film Screening-
Race to Nowhere
Thursday, Sept 30; 6:30p
@ Nova

We're taking part in a national screening day, working to continue community dialogue about the nature of school, the role of education and our hopes for our children. Please help spread the word, we need to confirm 50 pre-sale tix by 9/20 in order to participate in this screening day.

Find a link to the film and our purchase a ticket at our Nova PTSA site: novaproject.my-ptsa.org

See the CNN piece on RtN on YouTube

If you'd like an e-vite or flyer to help us publicize, let me know. We'd appreciate it!
owlhouse88(at)hotmail(dot)com

Dorothy Neville said...

StepJ, the levy money is for textbooks/curriculum alignment for elementary music materials. So, no it would not mess with the middle and high school programs (not yet). HOWEVER, what I want to know is: what elementary music are they talking about? Does the district provide money for instruction in music? Who would be teaching this? PCP music teacher or classroom teacher? What happens to elementaries where the PTA or parent's group has already funded a music program?

Dorothy Neville said...

And furthermore. I am figuring that the music instruction adoption is just thrown in there to look good. In this economic climate, with all the cuts schools have faced, should we be spending any central administration money working on elementary music textbooks?

(And, shout out to Mel and Charlie. Please check your spam comments folder, because one of mine is lost.)

seattle citizen said...

There is an article in the Washington Post today which asks if college is worth the money. It looks at cost and benefit, mainly, in dollars and cents, and not so much at whether there are jobs for all those graduates (tho' it does touch on this towards the end)

seattle citizen said...

I like the article because parts of it extol doing what you love, experimenting in the world, rather than chasing dollars and getting tracked into what might be a dead-end.
But of course, many people either actually need to chase those dollars, or feel a need to...

ParentofThree said...

"The School Board Calendar scheduled a Superintendent re-evaluation on Sept. 8, 2010."


I am betting that this is the meeting where they gave her a few grand for meeting a couple of targets.

hschinske said...

Ironically, the article ended up mentioning a pastry-chef program that costs in the $30K range -- and there's been a lot of news recently about so-called "practical" degree programs from for-profit institutions that are of questionable value and cost a lot. (The one mentioned in the article probably is reputable, but lots aren't.)

Helen Schinske

Melissa Westbrook said...

Does anyone know where the Board retreats are held? I meant to call today and ask as I might want to drop in tomorrow.

Charlie Mas said...

Tomorrow's Board Retreat is at the Beacon Hill Library.

Click on the date on the Board Calendar for the details.

StepJ said...

Thanks for the clarification Dorothy.

It used to be that the District provided monies for a PCP instrumental music teacher starting in third grade.

I haven't kept up with recent budget ins and outs, so don't know if this is still true or not.

mirmac1 said...

Well, I'm glad to hear there is an organized effort supporting NO on the Levy. What bugs the hell outa me is the SEA is on the fence. After beating back SERVE, why would they go along with SERVE's stepchild (or the legislature's weak-kneed hidden tax).

As I mentioned to another group of parents, I saw the 34th District Democrats (a group of well-informed liberals) endorse Yes on the Levy hands-down. Since some of them have heard of ed reform (and rejected endorsing Stand's candidate Mike Heavey), I can believe they choose to ignore the State audits and the district's mismanagement. All they see is "its for the kids" and "it supports the teachers."

I was happy to meet Ken Berry there passing out flyers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mirmac, I honestly believe there are Dems who would like to vote against the levy. But I think it is so sacrosanct to parents and others that you can't vote against a school levy. Period. I think the first Dem district that does it would get roundly criticized and they know it. Hence, you won't get any district to vote against endorsing it.

I've been told that I can never get elected because I've told people I'm voting against a school levy. So be it. But I think time is on my side and what I said in my reasoning for my vote is going to be borne out.

It pains me that people don't believe that voting no is voting for accountability. We certainly haven't seen it any other way. We certainly haven't seen our district getting better. And, most of the money isn't going anywhere near the classroom.

Dorothy Neville said...

Looking for the "17% graduates ready for college," look what I found in the June 2008 Strategic Plan appendices.

"Recommendation 2: Conduct a comprehensive independent audit of the District’s new payroll system to determine the scope, causes, and severity of underpayment, overpayment, and non-payments, and take corrective actions to make it an effective and efficient
operation. Again this specific recommendation is not included in the Strategic Plan. However, because correct and timely payroll is important for employee satisfaction, we have been working to address this issue. The payroll system has been stabilized and an audit of the system is underway."

Yet the audit for the 2008-2009 FY Slams them for continued payroll screw-ups. AND at the audit committee meeting, Don Kennedy said that the payroll program predated him (by a wee bit) so that implies that it was not "new" in 2008, yes?

Don't forget, Mr Kennedy also said that to fix the payroll situation NOW, they had reassigned the manager and hired someone new, as of February 2010, IIRC. AND the staff went to Chicago for training.

Josh Hayes said...

I have already decided to vote against the levy. It's still something that makes me catch my breath: I have NEVER voted against a school levy. Ever.

At some point, though, one has to raise one's still, quiet voice in opposition. I can not vote to further bloat an already bloated central bureaucracy, when a teacher today hugged me for bringing half a dozen cheap compasses to his art classroom. This district does not know how to properly account for money spent, and so tons of money gets spent on useless, wasteful things, and kids in classrooms are starved for teachers, tools, and materials. No more.

Arnold said...

"and kids in classrooms are starved for teachers, tools, and materials..."

Josh, I couldn't agree with you more. I see it everyday!

The District needs to figure out how to plan for the 2011-2012 22 million dollar shortfall (without impacting classrooms), address Audit- which will probably require hiring extra staff and cover the cost of the Strategic Plan.

Sorry folks, I don't see the district being able to do this.

I'm certain we will see classroom cuts in the 2011-2012 school year.

Sahila said...

Well, there is money in this city... see what you think about this:

As part of the effort to bring Teach For America (TFA) to Washington in 2011, The Seattle Foundation will grant $250,000 to TFA and seeks to match that amount through donations from the community.

http://www.seattlefoundation.org/givingcenter/education/Pages/default.aspx

and this from the Capitol Hill blog:
By the way, the Alliance For Education awarded Garfield principal Ted Howard a $50,000 grant for outstanding leadership in March, which he can spend how he sees fit within the school...

http://capitolhillseattle.com/2010/09/09/capitol-hill-back-to-school-changes-at-area-public-schools#comment-3

Hire more teachers, perhaps? Maybe TFA recruits???

Syd said...

So, here is why I am afraid to vote no on the levy. Right now, those levies always pass. Our community supports education. It is part of how we feel about ourselves and our personal responsibility to the community. We feel good about voting for the levy. If it becomes a question, a choice that does not reflect upon your feelings of responsibility, if one can vote no and still feel good about the choice to do so, I believe we will have a situation where it will be harder to fund education in this city in the future. I don't want that. I do want less spending centrally. I do want accountability. I think those things might be possible without tying everything to funding. I also believe that if the levy passes, it will be seen as a victory for the superintendent's policies...but only because the same people who are asking for accountability from her and the board are the same people against the levy.


OK, talk me out of it. Tell me why funding has to be tied to accountability. Tell me why this will not affect future levies.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And Syd, Schools First and the district have you just where they want you. Fear of "what it might lead to." First I invite you to go to the Seattle Times and do an archive check. There are numerous districts in this state that have lost levies and then turned around and passed levies.

Seattle had a bad spot in the '90s when the levies failed but that was because they didn't make their case and they didn't provide accountability. Since then? Passed every levy.

Believing that failing a levy is the road to funding hell is up to you. Stats don't bear it out.

"I do want less spending centrally. I do want accountability. I think those things might be possible without tying everything to funding."

Ok Syd, let me throw this back at YOU. What accountability have you seen? How do YOU purpose to get accountability?

Schools First has said, time after time, levy after levy, "we will hold them accountable but AFTER we pass the levy."

It never happens.

And again I ask: are academics better in this district than, say, 5 years ago? Building conditions? I'll go out on a limb - what is better in this district than 5 years ago? Not what have they gotten done because, for example, the jury is waaay far out on something like the NSAP. What is better?

If your only reason to vote for the levy is fear, you should be worried. Fear is what is driving our Tea Party friends. Fear is partially responsibility for holding back our economy.

Fear is never a reason to vote yes.

Sahila said...

http://www.truth-out.org/two-multibillionaire-brothers-are-remaking-america-their-own-benefit63049...

This force includes national and state-level think tanks, Astroturf front groups, academic shills, university centers, political-training programs, fundraising clearinghouses, publications, lobbyists and various other units useful to their ideological cause. They spend freely on dozens of ideologically grounded right-wing groups to influence schoolteachers and high-school curricula, state and federal judges, lawyers and legal scholars, conservative policy thinkers and media producers, city-council candidates and local party activists.

Their aim is to shove the country's national debate to the hard right,
discombobulate the public's progressive wishes, and alter government policies to advance corporate interests ... Americans for Prosperity, the third-largest recipient of Koch foundation largesse, is the brothers' overtly political unit.

Sahila said...

coming soon, to a school near you...

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/09/school-outsources-teaching-india/

ParentofThree said...

Fear is how GWB ended up with a second term. And we all know how that turned out.


I am voting NO!

Sahila said...

I apparently have no credibility with some people here, so have nothing to lose posting this link!

http://www.uncletomsclassroom.com/

WV = Knotion!!!!

Sahila said...

why the free market, capitalist, competitive approach has no place in public education

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOP2V_np2c0&feature=player_embedded

Meg said...

I'm not anti-levy. I am against this levy. I voted for the operations levy this past winter. I plan to vote for the Families & Education levy.

But here’s the thing. This levy isn’t for kids. This levy will pour more money into opaque, centrally-directed projects that give more power to the district management. The same district management that got dinged in the recent audit report for its poor management. The same district management that closed 5 schools to save money... and then announced plans to open 5 more in the same school year. The same district management that has been reluctant to be explicit about what, exactly, they will use this money for - not just this year, but for every year of the levy.

Voting yes is voting for more of the same, and what's happening right now is hurting kids, schools and the district.

If anyone has questions, I'd be happy to answer them, here or on my blog. And clearly Melissa, Charlie and Dorothy are answering away, too.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sahila, could I ask you to please not post multiple times in a row?

Sahila said...

Melissa, is posting information relevant to education, on an open thread 'spamming'?

Why is the number of times I post on a row (mostly because its part of my morning routine to take care of matters in the cyber world before I get into the day/outside world) a problem on a blog which has no limit to the number of posts on each thread?

Its not like I am depriving other people of the chance to have their say....

seattle said...

Meg said "But here’s the thing. This levy isn’t for kids. This levy will pour more money into opaque, centrally-directed projects that give more power to the district management"

Quick question: If the levy fails, and the district doesn't get the money they anticipate what will they do? Will they forge forward with the projects anyway and take the money directly out of school/classroom budgets - making an already bad situation worse?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Meg can answer as well but my belief is that some things won't get done (just as staff said in their presentation to the Board - they will get postponed).

They are applying for federal grants for the teacher evaluation process so that could come through.

If not, well, you'd have to ask the SEA and the district what they will do. The answer is probably, "postpone".

They can't take more out the classrooms, at least for this year, because the budgets are set. I doubt if would happen in the following years either.

However, the people to ask are not here. You need to ask the district. Their answer might surprise you because they can't go all Chicken Little on you because this is work that can be delayed.

Arnold said...

Likewise, if the Levy passes. What will be done during the 2011-2012 shortfall. We need open public meetings regarding all of this.

Dorothy Neville said...

The worry that saying no on this levy, or even asking others to say no, would start people thinking that hey, maybe they should say no on future levies! It is something to think about. But here's my take:

I am trying to be clear to people (and am revising the flyer) that MOST school levies are crucial. The regular Operations Levy is 25% of the budget. HOWEVER, this levy is supplemental and unique in that way. THIS levy is one where people really should educate themselves and make their voting decision based on the merits of this particular levy. AND It is only about 2% of the budget.

Additionally, we are getting more people disgusted with the school district and cranky. I spoke with one man with kids who will be split in elementary school (younger one doesn't start K until next year) and besides that and the start time change he is furious and wants to turn down levy based on that, without knowing anything about the levy. He even apologized to me about wanting to do that and that he was being a one issue voter.

So, if this levy passes and HQ does not change, then what? I was at the audit committee meeting where they were discussing how many of the findings from last year will they probably get dinged with this year. A lot, actually. Look at the Whole Audit with Exceptions (I posted it as a google doc, see my blog) and note the dates that the auditors discussed issues with staff. All last school year! But the board did not know about any of these until the audit report was public. Well, the board and the public learned about the American Indian Grant fiasco in the Spring. Perhaps staff daylighted that one because the FEDS were going to anyway???? They may finally have the payroll thing fixed, but that would only have been done in the Spring, so all of Fall and Winter could still raise audit issues.

So, next year's audit will have findings. Perhaps they are not as important because HQ is "working on improving" but people will be watching. AND Melissa keeps talking about that long delayed BEX audit. Does anyone seriously think that audit is going to make the district look good for managing BEX money well?

AND the economy is not improving, the state and county budgets are dismal. So before we know it, the operating levy will be up for a vote again. How many more people will be POed? How many of them will then say -- I shoulda turned down that last levy gosh darn it, but I am gonna say no now!

BUT by saying NO now, we can give a huge vote of no-confidence to the reform movement and Performance Management and all that HQ expensive projects with no transparency or clear positive results. So it could very possibly help change the direction downtown. And it would get people's anger out, so it would be easier to make the real Operating Levy clearly something crucial.

A 2% boost in budget is small enough that saying YES is a vote FOR the reform movement and showing confidence in HQ and the Super. A vote NO says enough is enough.

Dorothy Neville said...
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Dorothy Neville said...
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Dorothy Neville said...

Sorry for the repeated posts. my computer was hiccupping or something.

Anyway, I listened to This American Life last night and found it interesting and relevant. The second story was about police in NYC, and corruption that occurred AFTER the big push to reduce crimes by data driven methods --- publishing a lot of statistics. That worked, but in the long run, the push for reducing the numbers even further meant that lots of crimes were downgraded, so the precinct didn't look bad statistically. Like a rapist was caught and admitted that it was his 7th offence. Yet there had been no indication to anyone that there had been a serial rapist out. The detective was shocked, got enough details from the suspect that he found the previous police reports and all had been downgraded to things like criminal trespass.

dan dempsey said...

Dorthy,

I wrote this as a progress report on how the academic improvement is going.

http://www.box.net/shared/b0u2727fdx

dan dempsey said...

And here are HS Math scores for the last three years....

Note those 2010 scores from "Discovering" an $800,000 purchase with $400,000 in professional development.

2008 (2009) 2010 for Black students’ pass rates:
Ballard: 25.0 (14.3) 26.9
Cleveland: *6.3 (*12.7) *5.7
Franklin: 17.4 (12.9) 16.7
Hale: 34.5 (33.3) 28.9
Ingraham: 13.0 (13.7) 5.4
Garfield: *22.5 (*29.8) *16.7**
Rainier B: 21.6 (*15.6) *3.9
Roosevelt: 31.0 (32.4) 28.1
Sealth: 28.8 (17.9) 10.2
W Seattle: 17.3 (15.2) 6.1

* UW NSF project assisted year
** AP Magnet

2008 (2009) 2010 for Limited English Speaking students’ pass rates:
Ballard: 16.7 (17.2) 11.8
Cleveland: *4.8 ( *0.0) *3.3
Franklin: 23.5 ( 9.4) 13.2
Hale: none
Ingraham: 35.5 (12.0) 3.0
Garfield: *0.0 (*16.7) *0.0**
Rainier Beach: none*
Roosevelt: 46.4 (15.8) 6.7
Sealth: 11.4 ( 6.3) 0.0
W Seattle: 19.0 (12.5) 6.7

==============
Great Spending. VOTE against the Levy.

Note: Sealth Principal and the Math department head both testified in favor of "Discovering" and how it was the choice to make. See Sealth scores above.

StepJ said...

A letter from CAO Susan Enfield came home with my kids on Friday.

Boiled down it said our District had failed AYP towards its Improvement Plan.

Districts are evaluated on 111 items under NCLB. For 2009-2010 our District was on an Improvement Plan for 87 areas. We passed 57 and failed in 30.

What does this letter mean for the long term? Are you only allowed to fail x many years before - what? Replacement of the Superintendent, or ?

I would provide a link to the letter but on casual search of the District website I do not find it.

seattle citizen said...

StepJ,
My limited understanding of the AYP thing is this:

ONLY Title One schools are federally affected by failing to meet AYP. This should tell us something from the get-go....Poor schools get to be "restructured"...

IF a school is Title One (a certain number of poorer students) THEN AYP has kick. (A side note: As has been discussed elsewhere on this thread, monies are hard to track around here, so ARE Title One funds getting actual services to the actual poor student? With the way things can be shuffled, I would say, "no.")

AYP:
Each school has a variable number of "cells," each representing a category, such as "Black" or Asian/Pacific Islander" or "Native American/Alaskan Native. Or Special Education. etc.

A typical school might have, oh, 25 cells.

IF a school does not show progress (not even no-growth, but progress) in just ONE of its cells, for instance if Asians fall back a bit in a given year, then the school is put on a list. I forget the actual names of the increasingly onerous levels, but if the school continues to have cells that don't show growth over, I think, four years, it is in the last year of non-AYP, and thus subject to all kinds of mean and nasty things, such as having the principal replaced, half the staff fired, and an outside education-management company brought in (KIPP, no doubt)

Nasty thing, AYP. I keep saying that schools don't fail, some teachers and some students fail, but NCLB's AYP tells us that yes, SCHOOLS fail. It's a way to tear apart existing public insitutions without having to actually pay for helping the particular group or individuals within the school.

Ballard High School is in its...fourth year, I think, on non-AYP. IF Ballard were Title One, it would be in danger of being federally restructured.

As a parent with a child in a non-AYP, Title One school, you are entitled to select another school, but I think the list is limited, and hey, the next school might not be AYP, either. You are also entitled to tutoring.

AYP is the bulldozer being used to flatten the concept of public schools. It is also a major shifr from local and state control of schools to federal control. And we all know who is at the helm federally: Arne Duncan, ex-"CEO" of Ariel Charter School in Chicago, a school "philanthropically" spun off of Ariel Investment Corp, a school where K-8 students learn in an environment themed around "Investment."

God save our students from not meeting "AYP."

Anonymous said...

My daughter is at JSIS; 4 K classes with 28 kids in each; 3 1st grade classes with 31! kids in each! We got a letter from our poor principal saying this is because all comers who live within the new SAP have to be accepted. Sign. Adams also has 4 full K classes, which they made space for by putting the counselor in a closet and taking her room. Where they will put the kids next year no one knows, since the current 4th grade is much bigger than the current 5th grade, and will need 1 or 2 extra classrooms next year. And there is no place to put portables at either Adams or JSIS.

A Baker

Anonymous said...

Oops, typo, meant to say sigh, not sign.

A Baker

krod said...

Crazy thing is that JSIS is completely full and 5 of younger siblings are not even in. 112 5 years old kids in the neighborhood...hard to believe. Enrollment should check the addresses of new comers to make sure those people are actually living in the address.

StepJ said...

Thanks again SC!

The letter did not mention a specific school -- it just mentioned the District as a whole was failing.

As an example the group of ALL 3-5th graders did not advance in Reading Proficiency. High School grade 10 group of ALL did not advance in Mathematics Proficiency.

I'm wondering what happens when the District as a whole has been tagged as failing AYP more than one year in a row?

seattle citizen said...

A Baker,
I thought the Addams building had a capacity around 700-800. Why the space crunch? I don't understand this. I thought Addams enrollment was around 500 or so.

Anonymous said...

Seattle Citizen, Adams Elementary in Ballard, with the art-based curriculum; not Jane Addams, which I think is a bigger school in the NE. The last 3 years the K enrollment for Adams has been at least 70, 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 K classes each year, this year they have 4. And from looking at all the toddlers playing at the playgrounds around there now, I don't think next year group will be smaller.

A Baker

Arnold said...

@Dorothy:

Have you considered adding the dismal results from the SE Initiative to your flyer? I think those results would support lack of confidence in MGJ reform packages.

Bird said...

People have always said JSIS should be an option school, but now that we have the new SAP it's status as a neighborhood school will be even more difficult to sustain.

JSIS is lucky that only 9 new first graders showed up. It could have been more.

In most schools, you could divide up these three especially large first grade classes into four more reasonably sized classes.

Unfortunately, the kids at JSIS are split between two Japanese classes and one Spanish, so splitting them into four equal classes won't be possible. And, of course, hiring an immersion teacher in September would be a bit of a trick as well.

JSIS has a specialized program that needs more stability than this to work well.

Incidentally, I can't believe how large the JSIS attendance area is.

It's too big now, and SPS seems to be in denial about the fact that once the boundaries have been drawn, families will move to be within those boundaries for this school.

JSIS is going to quickly run out of room for kids. Anyone in the neighborhood knows that this year (with four Kindergartens) isn't even the big year for incoming Kindergarteners -- next year will be even bigger.

It'd be nice if SPS could acknowledge this and do something about it now instead of three or four or five years from now.

I think the best choice is to make it an option school, *AND* work with parents to create more immersion schools ASAP.

Charlie Mas said...

For the record, there are no NCLB consequences even for schools with Title I which have failed to make AYP more than five years in a row.

They are supposed to be "restructured" but there is no definition for that word and there is no one enforcing it.

Look at Aki Kurose. It is a Title I schoo that has been at Level 5 for two years. Has it been "restructured"? The District claimed that the extended day at Aki and the principal who took over two years ago constitutes restructuring. That's the end of it.

seattle citizen said...

So, Charlie, a minor correction: There ARE NCLB consequences for failure to make AYP, but the restructuring part has not been applied? Other aspects have, such as the ability to switch out of the school, and the tutoring (at great cost, the tutoring...contracted out to private industry...)

And it has had consequences where the district has done things to avoid the onus of long-term non-AYP, such as "closing" Cleveland, and then reopening it with another cohort. We've had this discussion before, but will Cleveland continue on its previous standing in the AYP scale, or will it start fresh because it's "new"?

gavroche said...

@ Dorothy Neville (@ 9/11/10 4:49 PM)

I agree with your take on this, Dorothy, and I will be voting NO on the levy too.

Syd said...

I think perhaps I was misunderstood. I was not asking for questions about my intentions. I was asking why defeating the levy is more worth my efforts than other methods - the relative merits of each.
"Believing that failing a levy is the road to funding hell is up to you. Stats don't bear it out."
Are there any stats on this? Archives are not stats, they are research materials to provide stats.

"How do YOU purpose to get accountability?"
I propose pressuring the board to do it's job. It is clear that the Sup is not doing hers. Charlie and Meg in numerous posts have laid out very persuasive fact-based arguments showing that both the Sup and the board are not doing their jobs well. This has been much augemented by Melissa's and Charlie's board meeting posts showing specific instances in real time.
We can't affect the Sup directly. We have no cards to hold over her. She serves at the will of the board. We can affect the board. We can remove them from office. Perhaps effort is better spent on removing board members from office.

Sahila said...

I think it would be best to do both - vote against the levy and work to get the Board recalled.... not one single focus is going to achieve anything...

DeBell said that he could dismiss one expression of dissatisfaction as being sour grapes, but he couldnt dismiss four....

I think the only way the community has any leverage here (against the forces behind all this) is to confront it from all angles...

we would be well served to have groups come together to work on various aspects (depending on what is your passion)... levy, lawsuits, countering the pro-deform agenda (such as attending this event:

Democrats for Education Reform invites you to a conversation with education reformer and former NBA All-Star, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and Democrats for Education Reform National Executive Director Joe Williams

a. Where: The LeVine’s House: 1535 9th Ave W. Seattle
b. When: 5-6:30PM
c. Who: Anyone interested in improving education in this country
d. What: Please join local education leaders and reformers for a conversation on education reform.
e. How much: THIS IS NOT A FUNDRAISER – just a chance to discuss education reform efforts across the country and here in Washington
f. RSVP to dferwa@gmail.com or 415-690-5401), challenging LEV/A4E/OSC/S4C etc, committing to countering Seattle Times and Crosscut propaganda etc...

There are groups in other communities experiencing the same conditions as we are here in Seattle... they're joining together as Parents Across America - http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=123352677681840&v=wall&ref=ts

Sahila said...

Parents Across America - Seattle:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=148970815124891&v=wall

Dorothy Neville said...

Syd, people have been pressuring the board to do its job for years. It hasn't done a thing. Meg gave a thorough debunking of the elementary APP split (using data) and was ignored. She then did a thorough investigation into the Budget and did get some attention, but the district came back with smoke and mirrors. Look at the original document, she revealed that the differences in the HQ staffing on the public budget and the OSPI budget was $30M. The district has never really come clean about all that money, has it? Just the $11M for coaches. And they have never produced any report on those coaches, have they? Any research on how effective they are?

Read the Board Action Report for the levy. This was made AFTER the financial audit was public. Read what the staff wanted the money for. Maier was right, $6M for textbooks and $42M for reform efforts. Mel said she testified warning them about the risk of asking for this money for this purpose right after the audit (I haven't verified her exact testimony). But the board still believed in the staff could do no wrong, they believed in the "reform" efforts that were going to put Seattle on the Forefront of Innovation. It was business as usual. The staff showed incredible hubris asking for what really ought to be emergency money to continue their opaque HQ games. Had they no shame from the audits? Have they no sense of responsibility to their mistakes? To the schools that have cut budgets and need basic services? And the Board voted for this unanimously.

The no confidence vote AND the organized protest of the levy helped shake things up. Charlie pointed out that DeBell's list of issues, the lawsuit, the audits, the no confidence vote AND the levy protest all together are what's revealing the big need for change. (At the time, remember, they poo-pooed losing the lawsuit.) Are they finally seeing how angry both teachers and parents really are? And how right we are for being angry? That's what they need to see. How many of us write letters and point out issues and rationally explain what's wrong and why we are angry? I know a LOT of us do! Parents AND teachers. Did that do a thing? No.

You really cannot look historically for what might happen if the levy fails, because no other levy has been like this one, has it? This is a TINY levy, would add about $15M dollars to a budget of about $600M. The ordinary Operations Levy brings in $150M annually. I know it is too simplistic to say (because some of the coaching is useful) but just cutting the coaches from the budget would provide the same amount as what this levy would provide.

Sahila said...

http://www.zinnedproject.org/posts/7088

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

You can add my name to the list of people against the upcoming levy. I also could never imagine saying that but that's where we are right now.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, Syd, back to you. How to pressure the Board? Because I've been doing it for years; e-mails, attending community meetings, testifying at Board meetings, going to Work Sessions, sending them education articles, meeting alone with them, etc. And, I find that sometimes what I tell them gets referenced in what they say in public.

And yet, the pull of the good public face/gotta support the Superintendent is too great for them.

We stand at a time and a place where our district is not moving forward in a visible way. And if you fall into the group that is willing to wait to see the fruits of the Superintendent's work, okay. But there are those of us that have waited (in fact, they waited me out).

Test scores up? No.
Building condition better? Nope (and the head of Facilities said it will get worse before it gets better.)
Satisfaction with the Superintendent? SEA, no. Parent survey, no.

Is there a recall of the Board going on? yes.
Is there a Board election next year? Yup and there is organizing going on to find candidates to challenge each of the 4 people up for reelection (should they choose to run).

And Syd, with all due respect, no, I don't have "stats" on whether failing levies mean no levies pass again. I find it interesting that you expect me to prove my POV to the nth degree and yet you offer nothing in return.

Vote your heart but there is nothing to support it from another other view.

Megan Mc said...

Charlie, AS#1 was restructured. New principal, new teachers (half the teaching staff was moved in from Summit which squeezed out existing teachers with lower seniority during the subsequent RIFs), mandated instruction time (no more multiple day-long fieldtrips, mandated math and literacy coach, extra planning time and increased PD around data collection and analysis, mandatory percentage of families participating in MAP testing (90% with goal to rise to 95% by end of year)

The result - a steady decline in enrollment as the culture of the school changed and the snow ball of more families leaving because more families were leaving. There is still great things happening at the school and the focus on "traditional" academic instruction will help the kids at the schools whose parents aren't uber educated and homeschooling their kids in out of school hours. The downside is that its the latter families that are leaving (along with their time and resources) so the school is becoming economically depressed on top of having fewer kids (the lost more than 100 kids when they first lost all city transportation and then lost transportation to NW seattle).

Is the restructuring to blame for AS#1s troubles? No, but it definitely demonstrates that the districts attempts to help a school are completely misguided. They ignored all the BLTs priorities for spending during the budget process.

seattle citizen said...

Syd, how can one pressure a board that is, seemingly, in cahoots with an agenda that has been playing out for a decade? (see Sunday mornings thread on the board retreat, moderated (or led, or advised or whatever) by Don McAdams, a privatizing Broadie from way back, who believes schools should go into the non-public domain)?

I'm increasingly suspicious that there are more powerful forces at work, over time, directing Broad and McAdams agendas and finding great success. They've convinced the public that mere WASL scores can be used to "restructure" schools, they've convinced the public that a regime of packaged curriculum towards those "standards" is the way to go, they've convinced the public that there is a serious, serious problem with "teacher quality" (whatever THAT is, they haven't said) and they've evidently shanghied many "influential and important" polticos to follow their line and speak authoritatively of the need for "reform": Burgess for Our Schools "Coalition"...Sacremento's Kevin Johnson for the "League" of Education Voters...OBAMA for the Department of "Education"...

And we learn more everyday about how far back this effort goes, and how school boards are being led by Broad graduates to support Broad superintendents to finagle Broad agendas...Many, many of the changes we see in Seattle are Broadite driven, and are laying the groundwork for increased privatization of schools. Many on our board have evidently been on board with this for at least the last few years, and perhaps, with city, state, and federal power players whispering in their ears, many board members have been in cahoots with McAdams, et al, for further back than we might imagine.

And we few are supposed to somehow convince these people of the error of there ways? It's way, way beyond that, we need a mass uprising. Our catalyst for this uprising is the evidence-strewn trail of back-room politicking, of mis-information, of conflict of interest, swollen bank accounts and general neer-do-well-edness of the relevant players. It's all there (unless I'm absolutely nuts, which I don't think I am); if it is made public in a way that shows the gravity and craptitude of the situation, I'm very hopeful that we can stop this train wreck.

But to continue to "work to change the board"? That's standing on the platform watching the train speed away.

Syd said...

Melissa,

Are you angry with me personally? Your posts seem to have an edge that perhaps I am misreading. I apologize if I am.
I am not asking you to prove anything. I just want to know if there are stats. Someone must have looked into this. I don't want to recreate the wheel.

I don't to wait for improvement either. We have one kid in the APP program at Garfield, one at Graham Hill in 2nd grade, and 1 one year old. They grow up really fast. From personal experience I know it is not to early to start worrying about middle school for the 2nd grader. I have toured Mercer. If there are not changes there - including facilities and program - I'll consider moving. And geez, my 1 year old will be assigned to Hawthorne. Most of the people I know who would have at least looked at public school for elementary are freaked by the idea of Hawthorne.

Good point Sahila - maybe it should be a multipronged effort. With three kids, one a toddler, I am really just trying to decide where I should focus my efforts.

seattle citizen said...

Syd, the shifts in public schools towards this Broad-reform oriented model have taken years, and might take years to unravel.

I do hope you find suitable change (via existing or modified education at Garfield, or elsewhere if you must move) and know that is your focus, as it should be. I'd ask that, if you have any energy left you put a note on your refridgerator (and facebook it to all your friends to do likewise), reminding yourself that public schools need you for the long haul.

While it is extremely understandable that parent/guardians become aware of public schools when their children enter them, that they keep a certain focus on the part of the public schools that directly impacts their child, and that they move on to paying attention to their child's career or college or other minor aspects of adulthood, it is an unfortunate fact that many parent/guardians don't seem to carry the same zeal (or have the energy to) for public schools in general. THIS is how Broad got to where it is.

Sooo...I hate to preach (okay, I don't!) but I wish everybody would remind everybody that the idea of public education is something that is very, very important for our country and our children. If energy is available, all hands have to be on deck at all times, kids or no.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Syd, no, I'm not mad at you but I don't hear you telling me how YOU think we should communicate with the Board and/or hold them accountable if that is the method (rather than voting against the levy) to get accountability. I keep asking you this simple question and yet you keep asking me more questions.

So I would ask you to (1) tell me how to better hold the Board accountable (and no fair saying vote them out next year) and (2) if you have no real evidence that voting down a levy permanently damages a district's ability to pass future levies, then why the hesitation?

Arnold said...

P. 27 State Auditor Report-personal services contracts had money taken from sp. ed, Federal Indian Education grant money, Head Start money and Title I funds. Does anyone know what exactly these "personal service" contracts were?
Am I correct to say funds were taken from our most vulnerable students (sp. ed., low income etc,) to pay for something not related to sp. ed. etc.?
By the way, these funds totaled almost 1.5 million dollars.

Sahila said...

yes, Arnold - you are correct....

Arnold said...

Specifically, What were the personal service contracts -that took dollars from special ed, Indian education grant money, Head Start Money and Title I funds?

Dorothy Neville said...

Arnold, those personal service contracts are probably not an issue. I believe they are for people supporting the students, like OT and PT. The issue for the audit was that the work was performed (ie, the student met with the therapist) before the contracts were finalized. This is one thing that the staff said is actually an issue more widespread than the district, as you want to get services to kids before all the paperwork gets complete. I do not think, however, that there should be so much laxity in this. Meg Diaz probably has much better notes on this part of the audit committee meeting.

Do note that later in the audit, the district was dinged for making so many of these sole-source contracts without following procedures or maintaining paperwork justifying that. And that's a very naughty thing that the federal government doesn't like because it doesn't ensure best use of funds.

SP said...

Have there been any updates about the PASS Principal's contract yet? It seems as if it's fallen off the edge of the earth (or hidden under the rug?)

SP said...

By the way, the full 126 page final version of the SEA contract is now online on the SPS website (but not yet on the SEA site- how's that for a pleasant surprise!)

link to SEA contract

Maureen said...

Updates to the (SEA part of the) Labor relations page but still nothing on the front page to indicate that school is in session. No button for Transportation's Late Bus Alert (great idea-but buried), no button for late enrollment information or school start times. And does it seem odd to anyone else that the very top of the "News" is a welcoming letter from the new Principal at South Shore? What about all of the other schools that have new principals? What about all of the new SCHOOLS?

dan dempsey said...

Until the District places their check register online keep voting to reject most additional levies.

another mom said...

Not sure where to put this.
Just saw this on the district's website. It announces a press conference about the new teacher's contract. SPS leaders and others will be there to comment and ask questions. Again, I have tried and failed numerous times to provide links therefore:
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/news/releases.htm