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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Teachers Union Has Its Say

Also in the Stranger Slog today (and kids, it is one of the most unusual, hilarious, thought-provoking and informative blogs around), a brief piece about what SEA has to say.

As I previous reported (whoops, stated), SEA was NOT at the podium yesterday. The president, Olga Addae, was there but didn't speak because of communications issues with the district and also SEA's feeling that they didn't want to speak on the contract until the Board voted on it (which wasn't happening until later that night).

The Slog reports that:

Sure, the teachers' union, the Seattle Education Association, approved it, but SEA President Olga Addae lashed out at the school board after a press conference (.pdf) yesterday for ignoring the union's vote of no confidence on district superintendent Maria Goodloe Johnson. (The union had voted no confidence just minutes after approving the new contract on Sept 2).

"While you lauded collaboration, you ignored the no confidence vote," Addae told the school board at their regular meeting after the conference (the board voted to approve (.pdf) the teachers' contract at the meeting). Not one of you have reached out to the Seattle Education Association to voice your thoughts on this."

Now the only thing said that could remotely address this issue was from the outgoing president of the Alliance for Ed Board, George Griffin, III, who stated that he himself as well as the Alliance Board, support Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.

As Charlie reported from the Board retreat, Michael DeBell is at least troubled by this the vote of no confidence.

And wow, I hadn't heard that the district wants to cut funding from the Families and Education levy and get rid of family support workers. (I heard one speaker at the Board meeting speak but I didn't realize it was that serious.) Holy cow, those people are vital to the schools that have them, acting as counselors, family advisers and facilitators for other services. Remember that list of great services I posted in another thread about the supplemental levy and my worry that too many levies could affect the outcome of the City's Families and Ed levy? Well, cross family support workers off that. Geez.

The Slog, being a true blog, has a comment section if you care to post something there. They have a much broader audience than there is here.

31 comments:

Sarah said...

Specifically, What are " family support workers"?

SolvayGirl said...

They help low-income and ESL families with everything from baby clothes to furniture (I remember donating a bed my daughter had outgrown), food, housing, etc.—especially around the holidays. The one at my daughter's elementary school often worked with the school counselor to help families with serous issues.
These people are an integral part of the school team and can make a huge difference in the lives of the children whose families they help. Getting rid of them will IMHO contribution to a reduction in test scores ("achievement") for many children because they will end up going to bed hungry or sleeping ont he floow.

seattle citizen said...

Director DeBell also appeared to be very troubled at last night's board meeting by the fact that the data Mr. Bernetek was presenting was from a 2004 benchmark and not a 2007 benchmark. He (and Director Carr)want information that is reflective of the progress (or lack thereof) of THIS administration's efforts. They want, very strongly, to know if all these changes are for the good.

I'm glad these directors, (and others) are taking notice that they need to see what is going on NOW, in concrete terms, rather than be presented slides of percentiles and colored bars on powerpoint.

Jan said...

SC -- that is a good sign. Do you recall whether there was a commitment from Brad to redo the presentation with more up to date information?

seattle citizen said...

Brad stuck by his guns, saying something about how they needed the six-year period to get...better....data....or something. He didn't exactly argue with Debell, but he defended his six years of data as necessary.

It was quite apparent what DeBell was doing, at least to me: He was directly challenging the superintendent. He turned to her as he spoke, he was challenging in tone....

It's probably at about hour....1:40 or so on teh video (available at SPS TV, bottom or Board webpage. It's up now.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Several women, single mothers, got up and bravely gave testimony at the Board meeting on how important the family support workers were in their lives. This appeared to take a huge amount of courage on their parts to get up and speak.

One woman said her daughter was deaf in one early and the family support worker got her daughter tutoring.

The support workers are the "fixers". They find and facilitate help in all directions. Their value to low-income schools cannot be overstated. I will find an e-mail address for who to write to about this issue (forget the Board and try the City Council and/or committee for the Families and Education levy) but please, these people are VITAL.

Mr. Edelman said...

Accompanied by my principal, MGJ once visited my classroom--a classroom that contained predominantly poor students of color. As she entered the classroom, I asked her to introduce herself to the students.

"Who am I?" she said. "I am Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, superintendent of Seattle Public Schools." Then she looked at the students and said, "Are you working hard or hardly working."

A meek Somalian girl piped up, "Working hard."

"Good answer," the superintendent said, and left the room without another word. The principal trailed behind her.

seattle citizen said...

The family support workers are EXACTLT what people are talking about when they talk about the good kind of "community school": People who are the go-to and go-between in schools, who find services for every known malady and need; who, as we heard yesterday, provide access to single mothers in their darkest days; who work with community services, are known by and know community services people...

All the blowhards in the world, tappety-tap-tapping out their manisfestos for "teacher quality" as they position themselves for the next step up the $$$ ladder in "reform," couldn't hold a candle to Family Support Workers. Or the counselors, who also suffered losses in teh schools. Or the career counselors, likewise cut, or the....

Oh wait, we're buying "teacher quality." I hope it includes smaller class-sizes so teachers can try to do more than THEY already do in supporting families (you'd be surprised what teachers scrap together in hours and even money to help families), we hope that "teacher quality" includes smaller classes so teachers can take on all the family support, counseling, career advising, food services, and other work that needs done but is losing the staff available to do it.

REAL community schools involve community (the volunteers, the lowpaid social workers, the translators - oh, yeah, IAs are bing cut from ELL...add that to the list -)through these existing (for now)at-level grass-roots support systems of school, city and state. These systems work (when funded and staffed) because the people in them are "grunts," they know the battles on the field. The top down crap we're being fed as services are cut is an insult and an abomination.

The Stranger said...

@Seattle Citizen: I am hoping Mr. Debell's demeanor reflects the heat that he may be feeling from our government officials. I've had the opportunity to speak to Senators of the 36 Dems- they are well aware that the Levy might be at risk due to the Audit. I also had the opportunity to speak to Bill Gates Sr. about the Audit- he was unaware. Remember- Bill Gates Sr. is pushing I 1098 which will fund public education. He didn't seem pleased!

Bird said...

I'm confused. Why would the district want to get rid of these familiy support workers?

seattle citizen said...

Bird, it's all about "teacher quality" now. Teachers will, under that mantra, do everything. Since the new evaluation system doesn't even try to factor in all the other people who work with a kid over the year, it's doubly obvious that the "teacher quality" mantra means "teacher is solely responsible" means "we will cut all that other staffing."

I mean, why CAN'T teachers be more efficient? If they'd only organize their dang desks, for once, and get the standards up on the walls....

Word Verifier suggests that it's not fluki that Family Support is cut as "Teacher Quality" is extolled.

seattle citizen said...

The Stranger, if you ARE The Stranger, I'm glad to see you here.

We need you. Fairview Fanny is falling flat, this wee blog has but a small voice, West Seattle Blog does what it can...

We need Seattle's one remaining print newspaper to get the news out. I mean, dip in anywhere to SPS and you'll come up with something newsworthy (including, NOT incidentally, all sorts of positive things going on in schools around the district, but the news that really needs reporting is down at JSCEE right now.)

You can find all sorts of lists of things that need some attention. My personal "favorites" (sigh) might be the audit, the NWEA MAP test (Sperintendent on their board), the Broad connections (Sperintendent and at least three "high level" downtowners hired, apparently, without interviews and only because they're "Broad"...

Ach, we need you, The Stranger! If Dan could dig deep into his files and find the guy who he sent as a guide with Tamara Paris to get a look at the REAL Bainbridge Island, lo, these many years ago (after she severely dissed it!), that guy would be happy to serve a similar capacity as guide around the island fortress of JSCEE.

Chris S. said...

...George Griffin, III, who stated that he himself as well as the Alliance Board, support Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.

You know what I'd really like to see? A Venn diagram of "people that support Dr. GJ" and "people with kids in public schools."

Chris S. said...

...George Griffin, III, who stated that he himself as well as the Alliance Board, support Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.

You know what I'd really like to see? A Venn diagram of "people that support Dr. GJ" and "people with kids in public schools."

The Stranger said...

I'm sorry to disappoint Seattle Citizen. I am a private citizen. Don't deal with the Board of Directors. Our attempts to interact with Seattle Board of Directors have been an exercise in futility. The Board of Directors and Superintendent have to be accountable to the legislature. Insist on a clean Audit.

Josh Hayes said...

Darn; I guess OUR "The Stranger" is just a Camus fan.

Still and all, there's a reason why the Stranger bills itself as "Seattle's only newspaper." I can't argue with that.

As for "family support workers", my own school has a history of providing support to a number of kids from homeless, or nearly homeless (e.g. living in a tent in a relative's yard) kids. The FSW has been integral to that effort, and I'm heartbroken that our budget this year eliminated that position.

SPS has to commit to educating, and supporting, ALL kids. Not just the ones with houses or apartments. The more I think about our school's loss, the more angry I get.

wsnorth said...

"...district wants to cut funding from the Families and Education levy and get rid of family support workers"

And, hello, does the district really want to cut this money, or appropriate it for something else!?

This is exactly the kind of help the "city/community" should provide - it shouldn't come out of school budgets. We should be thankful we live in a community that cares.

wsnorth said...

Off topic. OMG. Did anyone else see the op ed piece by MGJ today?

"The research is unequivocal: Quality teaching trumps all other factors in determining student success."

And more...oh, it that paper is so sad.

Megan Mc said...

Josh, the most frustrating part of losing the FSW was that the school requested that our extra Performance Management money be used to pay for the FSW as out #1 priority and the district overrode that and said we had to take the coaches and the extra collaboration time for students. I know of at least one family that left the school because they depended on the services provided by our FSW and needed to find a school that had one.

wseadawg said...

LATW, the picture you paint is worth a thousand words. Yes, our SI definitely thinks she's a CEO running a business with such a canned, weak attempt at "engagement" like that.

If only we had a Superintendent who actually understands kids and would have said "I'm Maria" instead of spouting her surnames and title.

Is it too much to ask for a SI who understands and can relate to kids? I guess it is.

wsnorth said...

wseadawg (and others), she may think she is a CEO running a business, but she would be fired in that role even faster! I'm more of a business person than an educator, and she's not a competent business person, believe me! To label her as a "business" person is actually an insult to a lot of hard working, skilled managers and entrepreneurs in our community.

WenD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WenD said...

LATW: "Are you working hard or hardly working."

She's venal and dishonest, a failure as a role model, and not even fit to be around children.

And look at the big brain on Brad. Does anyone know how much this guy earns now that he's off the Broad dole? Enough to pay for how many FSWs?

The lines are drawn. This is gang the boosters are supporting to run your schools, into the ground. They lie, they can't do their jobs as written, and they don't care. Nothing appears to stop them. The more you expose them, the meaner they get.

Melissa Westbrook said...

WenD, don't give up. I'm not.

wsnorth said...

Never give up without a fight!

gavroche said...

What a vile comment from "Dr." Goodloe-Johnson.

I'm not giving up either.

If Goodloe-Johnson is a shining example of what the "Broad Superintendent Academy" produces, then their "academy" ought to be closed down and reconstituted.

Clearly it produces mediocrity.

seattle citizen said...

"the school requested that our extra Performance Management money be used to pay for the FSW as out #1 priority and the district overrode that and said we had to take the coaches"

Because student growth achieved by the FSW cannot be evaluated on the MAP, hence there is no control mechanism district can use to beat FSW over the head with in their "data driven" idiom.

The work of FSWs is unmeasureable, time consuming, "unproductive."

Coaches, on the other hand, will ostensibly "support" teachers in meeting MAP goals.

Is there a MAP question answering how much a student grew because of care, compassion, and resources steered the child's way? Uh, no.

ParentofThree said...

Seattle Citizen, Debell has a long history of showing "concern" and in one instance voted against MGJ (high school math). But what he lacks is action. He could have voted NO to extend the contract, but rather he expressed "concern" then voted yes. And he knew the audit results at that time.

This "concern" coming on the eve of the Levy rings a bit false to me.

But maybe I am wrong, and at the next board meeting we will see a presentation with showing the benchmarks that DeBell requestied.

But I am not holding my breath.

dan dempsey said...

Just when I think the SPS has reached maximum insanity level ... MGJ acts to surpass that level.

Sahila said...

Colbert is having a March to Restore Sanity....http://www.rallytorestoresanity.com/

AFT is having/joining this march:
http://www.facebook.com/AFTunion#!/event.php?eid=114165988632534&ref=mf

as I wrote on the AFT facebook page, they'd probably have more impact joining the Colbert event - I dont know whether to laugh till I cry or cry till I laugh....

Maybe we should have our own March to Restore (educational) Sanity here in Seattle....

Josh Hayes said...

seattle citizen writes:

"Is there a MAP question answering how much a student grew because of care, compassion, and resources steered the child's way? Uh, no."

And sc is exactly right - and this realization was so blindingly infuriating that I had to get up and stomp around the living room for a minute.

What this says about SPS is that they care about test results and do not care - Do. Not. Care! - if kids are homeless, or foodless, or damn near clothesless. What kind of sick, twisted way is this to say "it's all about the kids"? Maybe they don't care if kids die, as long as the ones left do well on the test.

MAN I'm mad.