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Sunday, October 31, 2010

TFA Agreement with the District

I need someone with a legal background to read this thing but I do see some problems here.

Here is WAC wording for why the district can do this (italics mine):

"(a) The purpose of the conditional certificate is to assist local school districts, approved private schools, and educational service districts in meeting the state's educational goals by giving them flexibility in hiring decisions based on shortages or the opportunity to secure the services of unusually talented individuals. The professional educator standards board encourages in all cases the hiring of fully certificated individuals and understands that districts will employ individuals with conditional certificates only after careful review of all other options. The professional educator standards board asks districts when reviewing such individuals for employment to consider, in particular, previous experience the individual has had working with children."

How do we know the TFA teachers are unusually talented, that the district has explored all options to find qualified teachers and what previous experience the individual has had in working with children? These are all things we can ask the district for evidence of.

So the Action item states this as the district reasoning for TFA:
Seattle Public Schools has strong teachers and is fortunate to have many applicants for our open positions. We believe that the larger our candidate pool, the more likely that we will hire the best teachers for our classrooms.

It is best practice to have the broadest, most qualified candidate pool for our teaching positions. This agreement with TFA will broaden our candidate pool.

The agenda item says that TFA works to close the achievement gap but not that this is the reason the district is going this route.

The Agreement says this:

Specifically, the circumstance which warrants the issuance of the conditional certificate is the
district’s commitment to partnering with Teach For America as one of the strategies the district is employing to address the achievement gap.

Why would it say one thing in one place and a different thing in another?

Also, under Community Engagement it says what TFA has done to outreach, NOT what SPS has. So SPS is going to do outreach AFTER this is introduced and/or AFTER the Board okays it? How is that fair?

So what the agreement means to SPS:
  • They will hired for all areas and grades and not critical or shortage areas
  • They will be the classroom teacher of record (not a sub or an aide)
  • The WAC they are using is this one - WAC 181.79A.231
  • Special ed from the WAC -
(vi) The issuance of a conditional certificate to a special education teacher after July 1, 2003, is contingent upon the individual being enrolled in an approved teacher preparation program resulting in a residency teacher certificate endorsed in special education.

(vii) An individual with full certification and endorsed in special education shall be assigned as a mentor to the special education teacher serving on a conditional certificate for the duration of the conditional certificate.
  • this one makes me very sad because if 5 weeks is all it takes to be considered "highly qualified"
"Teach For America will provide the described training to Teachers presented to Seattle Public Schools for the purpose of ensuring that such Teachers meet the “highly qualified” teacher requirements set forth in the federal No Child Left Behind Act and applicable state regulations (“Requirements”).

  • RIFing - it looks like any TFA teacher would be treated the same as other teachers "with the same job classification, certification status and/or seniority rights." My only question is, legally, does the TFA job certification give them some different rights?
  • Student privacy - in the agreement this seems very troubling. They state (italics mine):
"Pursuant to its obligations under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), Seattle Public Schools hereby acknowledges that in the course of providing on-going professional development services for the purposes of improving instruction, Seattle Public Schools may disclose to Teach For America student identifiable data from individual Teachers.."

"Teach For America shall use and maintain such data as provided in 34 CFR §99.31(a)(6). In accordance with 34 C.F.R. § 99.33(b), Teach For America may re-disclose student identifiable information on behalf of Seattle Public Schools as part of Teach For America’s service to Seattle Public Schools of providing on- going professional development services. "

"In accordance with 34 CFR §99.31(a)(6), Teach For America may also disclose student identifiable information on behalf of Seattle Public Schools to additional parties, provided that Teach For America, in advance, provide to Seattle Public Schools the names of such parties and a brief description of such parties’ legitimate interest in receiving such information. "

If I were an SPS parent, this would be unacceptable to me.

  • fees - With respect to each Teacher whose employment by Seattle Public Schools is to
    commence in the 2011-2012 academic year, Seattle Public Schools shall pay
    Teach For America an annual amount of $4,000 for each year in which such
    Teacher is employed by Seattle Public Schools, up to two years [from the date
    such employment is to commence];
  • No Warranty. Seattle Public Schools hereby agrees and acknowledges that Teach For America does not make and has not made any representation and warranty as to the fitness of any Teacher presented or provided by Teach For America and Seattle Public Schools shall indemnify and hold harmless the TFA Indemnities from and against any Losses resulting from any claim related to the services provided by Teach For America,
    including, but not limited to, claims that any Teacher presented or provided by Teach
    For America was unfit for the position for which he or she was hired by Seattle Public
    Schools.
Maybe on one issue you readers can help me out. What do you think this sentence means?

From the WAC:

"(iv) Within the first sixty working days, personnel so certificated will complete sixty clock hours (six quarter hours or four semester hours) of course work in pedagogy and child/adolescent development appropriate to the assigned grade level(s) as approved by the employing school district or approved private school."

What does "within" mean to you? Because here's how the district is interpreting it:

"...the assurance that, within first sixty days, the individual has completed sixty clock hours of coursework in pedagogy as a result of successful completion of the Teach For America summer institute, which far exceeds 60 hours of preparation."

I read the WAC as getting this done during the first 60 days of employment, not getting it done BY the start of employment. I read the WAC as saying you are doing 60 clock hours in the first 60 days in addition to teaching. What do you think?

42 comments:

another mom said...

Harium believed, at least in his response to my letter when TFA was on the agenda in October, that TFA was being brought here to fill hard to staff positions. Based on the District's statement about enlarging their pool of candidates, I don't think so. He has either been mislead by the Superintendent and TFA OR he mislead me.

I will send another email to all board members tonight.

His response:

"We are indeed looking at Teach For America to come to Seattle. Our focus is on the hard to find areas of science and math. The graduates that come from the program are highly selective and go through a very rigorous selection process for their academic ability, cultural competency, and desire to serve. The teachers that were laid off in the previous rounds were not in these content areas. In answer to your question of if I would want my children taught by you of the TFA interns, my response would be yes I would. These are some of the best and brightest our country has to offer."

Melissa Westbrook said...

TFA doesn't have "interns." They are full-fledged teachers. That they have mentorship still doesn't make them interns if they get to have their own classrooms from the start. Even TFA doesn't call them interns.

chunga said...

The superintendent's proposal conveniently ignores the latest findings on TFA available at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/docs/Policy_Briefs/Heilig_TeachForAmerica.pdf.
Here are the conclusions from the executive summary:
"The evidence suggests that districts may benefit from using TFA personnel to fill
teacher shortages when the available labor pool consists of temporary or substitute
teachers or other novice alternatively and provisionally certified teachers likely
to leave in a few years. Nevertheless, if educational leaders plan to use TFA
teachers as a solution to the problem of shortages, they should be prepared for
constant attrition and the associated costs of ongoing recruitment and training.
A district whose primary goal is to improve achievement should explore and fund
other educational reform that may have more promise such as universal preschool,
mentoring programs pairing novice and expert teachers, elimination of
tracking, and reduction in early grade class size."

Additionally, this new research soundly debunks the two papers cited in the superintendent's proposal (noting that the Urban Institute one is not even peer reviewed).

seattle citizen said...

If Harium believed it wouldm be to fill hard-to-staff positions, he would wrong:
"Teacher candidates will be hired for vacancies across the full range of grades and subject matters and not restricted or limited to so-called “critical” or “shortage” subjects or grade level vacancies."

This thing is so convoluted I'm having a hard time following it: State changed regs to allow conditional teachers IF there are shortages or IF the individual is unusally talented - I take "unusually talented" to mean, say, an auto-shop teacher - not a lot of people with this skill. It COULD be extended to mean, "someone with a math major," but many regular applicants have math degrees...

But the district says TFA can apply for jobs across range and not limited to "hard to fill" spots.

What gives?

This contract is a mess. The agenda item conflicts with it. It conflicts with law. BY saying schools would be ONLY some kinds, low income, it conflicts with recent precedent in California that this is a civil rights issue - uncredentialed teachers can't be grouped in high-poverty or high-minority schools, because the assumption is that they are not fully qualified yet - they're conditional.

On another note, who is going to pay for the SpEd teacher mentoring the TFA SpEd teacher?

Anyway, this thing is ripe for picking apart. Why? Why is it so slipshod? Why is it so rushed? What is the rationale? Where is the research saying it is needed? Where are the other "head-hunter" companies that might provide conditional certs, and why was this sole-sourced?

another mom said...

There is such a disconnect in this District. I can't stand it. That SPS is willing to spend $4000/TFA'er but needs a special levy to purchase text books is unfreaking believable. So, the question is WHO is paying the $4000fee? From what was posted, it looks as if the District is paying the fee. And if it is the Seattle Foundation, why aren't they paying for text books as well.

seattle citizen said...

another mom, $4000 PLUS any expense from this:
"(vii) An individual with full certification and endorsed in special education shall be assigned as a mentor to the special education teacher serving on a conditional certificate for the duration of the conditional certificate."
Hmmm...they don't say how many hours mentoring, but let's say...three per week x 80 x $30 extra time = $7200 per TFA special ed teacher.

seattle citizen said...

Oh, wait, maybe the district thinks teachers will just drop what they're doing and provide on-the-job training and mentorship to these interns, taking time out of their workday that could otherwise be spent on, you know, their students, and do it within their contract hours.

I think they call it "training your replacement."

dan dempsey said...

This is "TfA" proposal is typical of proposals coming from the Superintendent. It is:
(1) Poorly thought out
(2) Deceptively presented
(3) Does nothing to solve any problem.

Can we already just have the 4-3 vote?

Clearly Sundquist, Maier, Carr, and Martin-Morris will vote approval why waste any more time on this?

=================
Specifically, the circumstance which warrants the issuance of the conditional certificate is the district’s commitment to partnering with Teach For America as one of the strategies the district is employing to address the achievement gap.

So how does this partnering do anything to close the Achievement Gaps?

The District is clearly able to write lots of words but there is no support of these words based on any logical connections. This proposal again appears to come from those who write creative fiction but are unable to write a research paper that relies on logical argument.

That is precisely why four school directors need to be recalled and the Superintendent needs to be fired with cause.

These directors illegally approved an $800,000 no bid contract twice once on 2/3/10 and once on 4/7/10. The Superintendent who proposed the contract signed it on 5/20/10.
-------------

Look for a Recall sufficiency hearing to be held in Superior Court before Thanksgiving concerning the recall of each of the following Directors:
Martin-Morris, Maier, Sundquist, and Carr.

seattle citizen said...

Here's some initial "legal" questions ("I'm not a lawyer, tho' I play one on TV")

School Board Action Report (SBAR)"authorize the superintendent to execute...draft Agreement presented to the School Board, with any minor additions, deletions and modifications deemed necessary by the Superintendent, and to take any necessary actions to implement the contract." Now there's a loop hole big enough to drive a truck through...Here's a draft, we'll ad stuff later.

SBAR states that SPS "has strong teachers and is fortunate to have many applicants for our open positions." How does this gel with the state's conditional cert requirement (CCR) that district's have the "flexibility in hiring decisions based on shortages or the opportunity to secure the services of unusually talented individuals"? "Many applicants," so no shortage, and "strong teachers," so no need for "unusually talented."
SBAR's rationale is that thay "believe that the larger our candidate pool, the more likely that we will hire the best teachers for our classrooms." They further accept on face value various research (mostly uncited) that "rigorous independent research from Mathematica, the Urban Institute, the University of North Carolina and other research institutions shows that Teach For America corps members have a positive effect on student achievement relative to other teachers." So TFA are better teachers than "other teachers"? If the district cites this, then if they will hire "better" teachers, then they will use the assumption that TFA is better during hiring, which prejudices the hiring process.
SBAR states that "Corps members may be hired without full certification under the state’s established emergency certification process" It also states that they "are conditionally certified through the state Professional Educator Standard Board." Which is it? Conditional or emergency? These are two different types of "contracted" (non-regular) certs. If either, what is the condition or emergency? In SBAR, it is stated only as enlarging the candidate pool. In the TFA Contract (TFAC) it is stated that the condition is that "specifically, the circumstance which warrants the issuance of the conditional certificate is the district’s commitment to partnering with Teach For America as one of the strategies the district is employing to address the achievement gap." So it's not a shortage, and it's not "unusually talented" staff, but only to close the achievement gap? That does not meet the terms for "conditional, the ones listed by Melissa under WAC (CCR), nor the ones listed on the OSPI website as either "conditional" or "emergency." On OSPI, it says that "The conditional certificate gives a school district the flexibility to hire someone who has expertise in an area, usually when they cannot find a certificated teacher in a specific endorsement area....The Emergency Certificate qualifies a teacher candidate for employment if the candidate has the appropriate degree and has substantially completed a teacher preparation program, but has not yet qualified for the Residency Certificate, if the school cannot find a regularly certificated teacher"

seattle citizen said...

The intent of WAC and OSPI is that districts attempt to find regular certs, THEN use conditional or emergency certs if a regular one can't be found. It is evident that the Conditional Cert and Emergency Cert are to be used AFTER these attempts. The district would have us believe that a conditional or emergency cert can be tossed into the pool of MORE qualified certs, those who actually are professionals and got a cert, and be selected BEFORE the cert in the same pool.
Nope, that is not legit under the state's conditional and emergency cert conditions.

dan dempsey said...

Here is the link to all of
WAC 181-79A-231

seattle citizen said...

Thanks for the link, Dan. It appears to me that
a) the district is unclear about why it needs a conditional (or emergency?) cert;
b) by placing TFA (the conditional certs) in the same pool as more qualified candidates (those with certs) it is not following the rules: It must first exhaust attempts to fill positions using qualified (certificated) BEFORE it goes looking for conditional or emergency - the law is intended to be last-resort, not to add to pool, as is the district's stated intention. If TFAs want to jump into the pool, by all means: Like other qualified certs, go get a certificate!

dan dempsey said...

I am truly confused as to what the Seattle Education Association can possibly be thinking in regard to TfA.

The District has produced an expensive extended decade long math debacle. The reason that Cleveland was in the bottom 5% of schools can be directly attributed to Math Scores. The pathetic Cleveland Math scores were produced by Dr. James King’s UW math project for Cleveland High School, this experiment that ran for at least 5 years. The three years that the state used to determine that Cleveland was in the bottom 5% correspond to the three years of Dr. King’s most damaging professional development component: the unmonitored math 3-year IMP experiment on all Cleveland Students.

To see what UW is up to now, please Google "Mathematics Education Project & Complex Instruction".

This “TfA” proposal is tailor made to:

Reduce the number of experienced math teachers who would be likely to call the District Administration out for their pathetic leadership in mathematics and expose the District’s dedication to ineffective nonsense.

... continued

dan dempsey said...

(continued)

What are SEA’s Olga Addae and Jonathan Knapp possibly thinking to have anything less than outrage at a TfA proposal?

Would not the district need to have "conditional" hiring, to use "uncertified" teachers? Pardon me I meant to say "conditionally certified" ... if conditional certification can be obtained.

The way it's set up, the state will approve non-certified teachers IF there is need, IF there are empty positions.

The way the TFA contract is written, it appears that the "condition" the district cites is that they have partnered with TFA; and that they are using TFA to lessen the achievement gap. Where is the evidence that TfA makes a significant difference in that regard as opposed to the Highly Qualified teachers the district would be using? What about the district's unsound direction in Math?

Here's the definition of Conditional Certification from OSPI

"Conditional Teacher Certificate: The conditional certificate gives a school district the flexibility to hire someone who has expertise in an area, usually when they cannot find a certificated teacher in a specific endorsement area. The certificate is subject to specific limitations and the teacher must take professional development coursework to enhance their teaching competencies. It is valid for up to 2 years."

Here, from the contract, is how the District will convince the state that it is, in fact, an emergency:
"
----- Seattle Public Schools agrees to request conditional certificates for all Teach For America corps members on the grounds that circumstances warrant the issuance of such certificates, as permitted by WAC 181.79A.231. Specifically, the circumstance which warrants the issuance of the conditional certificate is the district’s commitment to partnering with Teach For America as one of the strategies the district is employing to address the achievement gap."

So the district's condition is NOT that it can't fill slots, but that it is working with TFA and that is wants to diminish the achievement gap. Umm, those conditions don't match with the state's parameters or intent. Neither does stating that the TFAs will only go into high-poverty, low "achievement" schools.

This relates to the Ninth Circuit recently striking down a similar thing in CA - some city (LA?) was using "emergency" Certs ONLY in low-income schools. This is a civil rights issue, the judge said, as the district can't subject just one batch of students (poor and minority) to a teacher who is not fully certified.

Remember the the percentage of classes taught by teachers who are not Highly Qualified in low income schools is 0.60%

Whereas the percentage in non-low income schools it is 0.50%

So about 1 class in 200 at either classification of school ... but the district moves for conditionally certified teachers only for the low-income schools.

So what does the Seattle Education Association leadership “officially” have to say about all this?

MathTeacher42 said...

Wow !

Let me put a few more layers of tinfoil on the old conspiracy theory ...

Given Performance Management, AND

Given what the district can do to the teachers at the "worst" schools (is that Level 1? Isn't First Best? Is it level ...11 ?? 42? whatever)

either teachers accept the Pedagogy du jour, OR, the teacher goes into the displacement pool, AND

Given how few math and science certs there are ...

VIOLA! We have a 23 year old from Middlebury or Princeton who'll be here for 2 years!

This math teaching thing is hard, AND, if you have someone really better than me, you can keep the chalk in my room and have my keys.

A few EX math department heads have told me how they and the experienced teachers took the classes with the worst behaviors / worst skills, because dumping all these classes on new teachers wasn't reasonable to new teachers.

I suppose these TFA-ers will be teaching AP Calc ... ??

yawn. oh well. this whole thing sounds tailor made for multiple layers of industrial tinfoil on the hat - BUT ...

when you look at how poorly poor kids have been served with math pedagogy turned reform theology,

anything is possible!

BM

Aunty Broad said...

A testimonial from a TFA'er
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BalEnTww-zI

Mr. Edelman said...

We need a parent who is a lawyer to testify before the Board. Anyone know any parent-lawyers?

dan dempsey said...

Really the district is addressing the achievement gaps...with TfA. (Who are they kidding?) consider this:

"Teacher training is also grossly to blame. I attended a prestigious educational school (which did prepare me adequately on many levels), but I found many of my education classes to be highly lacking. My "Teaching Writing" course focused very little (if at all) at actual methodologies for teaching the various types of writing. Instead, it focused on "creating a community of writers" and "not focusing on the grammar or style - helping students to find their unique voices" and "allowing students to choose meaningful topics that will showcase their personal experiences"... you get the point. It would not be a gross inaccuracy to say that I learned absolutely nothing in my English education courses that would allow me to properly train students on this quite important skill."

Research writing skills are rarely taught, Students have not been trained to use facts to develop an idea. They have been fed garbage throughout their entire academic careers - the garbage that whatever they write down is OK and that it is their ideas that really matter.

{This is very understandable given the way the Superintendent and Board make decisions ... only their ideas matter ... when it comes to proposals and decision-making facts are irrelevant to these folks.}

So what are we preparing students to be able to do?

(1) Write nebulous poorly presented proposals like Dr. Goodloe-Johnson?

or (2) Become school directors that have such poor analytic skills that they will approve anything no matter how ludicrous or even illegal?

"Curricula and standardized testing are also against teachers in many cases. Many curricula do not require a research paper at all, and if it is required, the research paper often must be glossed over and not given the depth and breadth that it deserves because of the many other requirements that must be taught before standardized testing. Teachers are forced to sandwich the research paper in amongst so many other requirements and cannot give it the time that it deserves."

So the conditionally certified TfA teacher will correct for the ridiculous direction of instructional materials and pedagogy. WHAT ????

SPS academic preparation of students for College consists of NO RESEARCH writing Skills and few mathematical skills due to the absurd pedagogical push from Central Admin. Please tell how TfA corrects for this ongoing absurdity.

Sahila said...

Here's the link Aunty referred to:

Rhymes with Each Pour America

A Gift said...

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/7524981

none1111 said...

re: giving student personal data to TFA.

Wasn't there enough backlash against the district last time they gave out person student data for that push poll? What makes SPS administration think families consent to their childrens' data be passed out to 3rd and 4th parties?

Do they have this right? Is there some legal precedent that allows a public school system to give students' personal information out to private organizations? Without explicit permission. I guarantee I've NEVER signed anything of that nature.

I know some people were digging after the push-poll fiasco. What was the final resulting analysis of the district handing out that data? Or is it still being looked into? Or did people eventually give up on it? That's what the administration wants, of course.

Jet City mom said...

SO basically TFA is an employment agency.

An agency that aims to contract with school districts that " have difficulty finding teachers for troubled schools".

In order to have a good supply of possible employees, they provide a brief training ( that TFA candidates pay for?), to make them more " employable". This is after a screening process, identifying the ones that are " the most___ fill in the blank".

Since the school district is displacing the applicants from our own regions schools of education in order to find applicants that will stay for a honeymoon period of two years as opposed to applicants who were interested enough in the field of education to earn a degree- why is it that they think the universities will be jumping at the chance to be involved?

When I during a period of low employment, contracted with an employment agency, I had to pay the agency fee. Yet for the privilege of hiring these recent college grads- SPS will be paying the agency fee, on top of the teacher salary. ( oh but they are going to find an outside source)
If the district needs money so badly, why don't they get these outside sources to pay for something like calculators or textbooks and save the agency fee by hiring recent grads from the UW school of education?

Jet City mom said...

ersonnel so certificated will complete sixty clock hours (six quarter hours or four semester hours) of course work in pedagogy and child/adolescent development appropriate to the assigned grade level(s) as approved by the employing school district or approved private school."

It seems pretty clear-
AFTER they are hired- within the first 60 days of employment, they will complete 60 clock hours of course work as appropriate to the subject/grade they are teaching.

TFA " training" will not suffice, as it is before employment/placement.


The WAC is clear Melissa- it isn't you.

kid not like the others said...

those 60 area gimme- notice no actual content provider is specified or required. this is independent study. ta da. pay the $120 and you are now 90 hours from a step increase.

seattle citizen said...

The district is using the "private source" funding to pay for this in order to avoid having to actually research the issue, research various options, develop parameters for a RFP (Request for Proposal) that it would have to do if it was spending texpayer money.

So we are allowing "private funding" sources to bypass the bidding process and award sole-source contracts to whomever happens to have a seat on the Broad Foundation along with our superintendent (okay, she might not be on the Broad board NOW, but who cares? She and Wendy Kopp (TFA president and wife of the head of the KIPP schools, Richard Barth, are BFF.

Are we going to allow the Broad Board to supplant our elected, local school board?

Who is in charge here?

Must we have another conflict of interest with our superintendent sole-sourcing contracts to her fellow Broad and NWEA board members?

seattle citizen said...

Ah, THAT is why the superintendent resigned her seat on the Broad board: Her and Wendy Kopp of TFA were on the same board, very unseemly.

Too late: the conflict of interest already exists.

suep. said...

none1111 said...
re: giving student personal data to TFA.

Wasn't there enough backlash against the district last time they gave out person student data for that push poll? What makes SPS administration think families consent to their childrens' data be passed out to 3rd and 4th parties?

Do they have this right? Is there some legal precedent that allows a public school system to give students' personal information out to private organizations? Without explicit permission. I guarantee I've NEVER signed anything of that nature.

I know some people were digging after the push-poll fiasco. What was the final resulting analysis of the district handing out that data? Or is it still being looked into? Or did people eventually give up on it? That's what the administration wants, of course.


FERPA & SPS student privacy update
Hi none111. Good questions.

No, this issue has not been dropped. Both Dora Taylor and I testified before the school board about it, and we are still pursuing a change in policy regarding FERPA to better SPS kids' privacy and safety.

As you correctly stated, when that "Our Schools Coalition" push-poll survey was conducted and then posted online with the statement that the poll-conductors had gotten the private contact info of 10,700 SPS students (and 1,400 teachers) from SPS, some of us were prompted to research this apparently blatant breach of FERPA policy.

What we discovered is that the district gave the student and teacher contact information to the Alliance for Ed and Schools First. This was apparently legal and both parties signed the required "Declaration for Non-commercial Use" which is meant to prevent anyone from using our kids' private info for commercial purposes.

However, one of Schools First's members, Bill Sherman, who is a lawyer, reworded the district's Non-commercial Use document, effectively taking away some liability from S. First. He took out the provision that would have held S First liable if the info somehow made its way into the hands of a third party.

Which is exactly what happened.

Amazingly SPS legal dept. not only approved these changes, but apparently changed the standard SPS Non-commerical Use document to this newer, weaker version.

We showed this to Sherry Carr who was not impressed by the legal document tweaking and she told us the document has since been changed back to the original version.

Here it is.

[MORE]

suep. said...

FERPA & STUDENT PRIVACY [CONT'D]

Here is the current Declaration doc.


Meanwhile, a staffer at Schools First (a fellow named Tom Synder is what we were told), allegedly passed the student info onto a third party -- which is not legal -- a political marketing firm called Strategies 360/DMA Marketing.

This is the same company that created and ran the push-poll survey and created the Astroturf "Our Schools Coalition."

DMA/360 needed the student contact info in order to run their survey, but likely knew they couldn't in good faith sign the Declaration for Noncommercial Use.

They needed someone to get that info to them.

Enter Schools First.

By the way, we were also told that Schools First did all this at the behest of the Alliance for Education.

It's a good bet the Alliance paid Strategies 360/DMA for their services.

Oh what a tangled web we weave...

So we are formally requesting some changes to the district's FERPA policy that would make our kids' info more secure.

In the meantime, here's an important thing to know: anyone who wants to change their FERPA opt in choice to opt-out can do so at any time, even after the district's stated deadline for handing in the forms.

Now that the district is talking about sharing our kids' private info with Teach for America, Inc. as well, I would strongly recommend that parents opt out on the FERPA form.

Here's my Oct. 5. testimony and my posts about this over at Seattle Ed. 2010:

My testimony about FERPA.

Should the School District Be Allowed to Give to Our Kids' Phone Numbers, Addresses and Photos to Every Tom, Dick and Pollster?

-- sue p.

suep. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Bill Sherman, a Bryant parent, is a big Stand for the Children PAC advocate as well as a Schools First player. Altering that contract indirectly and perhaps directly helped Stand for the Children. Stand for the Children Seattle is the recently established and aggressive local arm of a national special interest group. Stand for the Children Seattle appears to be a big backer of Maria Goodloe-Johnson.

Glad Sherry caught the change but the Board needs to WAKE UP.

-skeptical-

curious said...

I sent Kay Smith-Blum an email with my concerns about FERPA in September and she sent a reply which she CC'd to the Super and to Holly Ferguson. I will copy it here just FYI because it sounds like people here are interested in the issue, even though it is getting off topic. I had looked into FERPA opt out forms in other areas. This is the last in a series of emails about the issue. (btw, I will also say that Smith-Blum was the only member to get back to me on that issue and is the only one who has gotten back to me on the TFA issue).



Thank you, I am copying both Holly Ferguson, who coordinates our policy work and the Superintendent – as I agree, this information merits review/comparison to our own policies/procedures.
Appreciate your concerns.
ksb




Ms Smith-Blum,

I still have some concerns regarding how SPS handles FERPA which I will just leave with you to consider. The general policy seems to be to disclose parents' and children's information fairly loosely unless people opt out specifically and totally. It is troubling that requesting agencies or people do not have to state their purpose or promise not to give the information away. I believe they just have to sign a declaration for noncommercial use. Some other districts handle this differently. I did a little research and found, for instance, that Fairfax County, VA has a policy where they say that as a general policy they do not release student directory info to the general public. They also offer several levels of opt-out options.
This seems like something to think about, something parents might appreciate, and like some kind of safeguard for our children's information.
I have copied it below.
Thank you for your time,

http://www.fcps.edu/mediapub/publicat/familygram/optout/hsdirectory.htm

cont'd

curious said...

continued from above

Opt-Out Options (Comprehensive and Limited)
Comprehensive Opt-Out Option
Withhold all directory information about your child. This means your child will be completely excluded from all school publications available to the public, including school yearbooks, award lists, photographs, video productions, and student directories. It also means that directory information about your child will not be released to school-related organizations, such as PTAs, or to state and county agencies unless specifically permitted by federal or state law.
Limited Opt-Out Options
As a general policy, FCPS does not release student addresses, phone numbers, parent information , or demographic information (such as primary language, or gender) to the press or the general public, even though it is directory information. FCPS does provide limited directory information to school-related organizations, such as PTAs, and to state and county agencies to help provide services. If you do NOT want directory information released to these entities, select one or more of the options below.

Choice A. Omit your child from school directories. FCPS will not provide student addresses and phone numbers to the press or the general public. Unless you opt out, however, it does provide that information to PTAs and other school-related organizations, which may use that information to publish student directories and may contact your family about school-related activities. Check Choice A if you want your child to be included in all school publications except student address and telephone directories.

Choice B. FCPS also provides directory information, such as student address and phone; parent or guardian name, address, and phone number; and demographic information to state and county agencies if FCPS determines that such information will help provide services to students or the school community. Check choice B if you do not want state and county agencies to receive this type of directory information about your child, but you do want your child included in school publications.

Choice C. Omit your child from photographic productions and other types of FCPS-sponsored publicity and media coverage. FCPS produces and participates in television, videotape, motion picture, audio recordings, and still photograph productions that may use your child’s name, likeness, or voice. Such productions may be sold or used for educational purposes and may be copyrighted, edited, and distributed by FCPS. Also, news media cover Fairfax County schools and sometimes photograph, videotape, or broadcast likenesses of students during school hours. Check choice C if you do not want your child’s image, name, or voice featured in such productions.

wseadawg said...

SC, you ask the right question: Who is in charge here? Well, it sure as heck ain't us, the parents, teachers, or community. It's the Ed Reformers. How? By funding Pro Ed Reform minions for the School Board, equipping Sundquist, Carr, HMM and Maier with over 150k each, compared to 15 to 25k each for their opponents. All war chests were funded by Costco Pres & VP, Microsoft CEO & retirees, Hanauer and all the other Bus RT folks who really believe in Ed Reform, and obviously know better than us, but have no kids in the system, anywhere, and thus, no skin in the game to be harmed from teh fallout. Being rich has it's privileges, and owning an urban school board is one of them.

So, we have a Board dominated by people loyal not to their neighborhoods & communities, but to their key benefactors and large campaign contributors who say "Do whatever MGJ wants. She's our gal."

So bounce, bounce, bounce goes the rubber stamp, merrily, merrily on down the drain.

We are supposed to be in charge, via OUR elected representatives to the School Board, but that's not happening. Instead, we get ignored, and big money contributors (who I really think believe in what they are doing) get everything they want. All of these folks run the LEV and are in bed with all the other astroturf groups which constitutes the "community" in the eyes of MGJ & the Ed Reformers.

Folks, stop complaining about community engagement. MGJ and Co simply don't define it like we do. To them, a community is something you can trot out and have them clap or bark on command in your favor, like a trained seal. That's what it takes to claim "grass roots support" for any legislative or administrative agenda when you have a press barking right along with all the other seals.

This is about something very basic: Power. It's about MGJ and Co giving us the middle finger once again and telling us they will do what they wish to us, like it or not, because they've got the money behind them to either buy the influence they need, or manufacture it with front groups and astro-turf orgs.

At the end of the day, we are none better in MGJ's eyes than those contemptible "plantation mentality" folks she spoke of back in Charleston. The folks who sit around and complain instead of getting off their butts, and fighting for power with their bare fists. This Board and SI cannot and will not be persuaded by reason. Power is all they understand.

I wish during the closure vote meeting DeBell would have cancelled the public meeting and moved it into a private room like he threatened. That would have theatrically demonstrated the truth! That everything they do is done under the table and behind closed doors while everything done in public is a dog and pony show.

Folks: We were right back then, and we're right this time. Let's not be cowed again.

Tell your Board members we will expose to every press outlet we can their conflict of interests and abandonment of their constituents in favor of their corporate benefactors in the next election cycle. Demand that they refuse corporate conflict-of-interest creating campaign contributions, and demand they sign and swear to pledge of allegiances to their constituents.

They want Reform. Let's give it to them. In spades.

Anonymous said...

Some interesting links. Sorry I don't know how to make them live.

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2008/08/23/why-i-hate-teach-for-america/

http://www.biljohnson.com/thoughts-on-tfa.html

Dismayed Teacher

suep. said...

Just noticed a typo in my earlier post. That should have read: Tom Snyder (not Synder) of Schools First (who apparently handed over the list of SPS student contact information to DMA Marketing/Strategies 360, at the behest of the Alliance for Education).

-- sp.

dan dempsey said...

Dear WseaDawg,

About those four bought and paid for school directors, on October 21, 2010 recall petitions were filed for the recall and discharge of each of the four.

According to RCWs the Prosecutors office has a maximum of 15 days to check for sufficiency and if adequate forward to Superior Court.
That means by Nov 5 the petitions should be headed to Superior Court.

RCW 29A.56.130:
(1) Within fifteen days after receiving a charge, the officer specified below shall formulate a ballot synopsis of the charge of not more than two hundred words.

(a) Except as provided in (b) of this subsection, if the recall is demanded of an elected public officer whose political jurisdiction encompasses an area in more than one county, the attorney general shall be the preparer, except if the recall is demanded of the attorney general, the chief justice of the supreme court shall be the preparer.

(b) If the recall is demanded of an elected public officer whose political jurisdiction lies wholly in one county, or if the recall is demanded of an elected public officer of a district whose jurisdiction encompasses more than one county but whose declaration of candidacy is filed with a county auditor in one of the counties, the prosecuting attorney of that county shall be the preparer, except that if the prosecuting attorney is the officer whose recall is demanded, the attorney general shall be the preparer.

(2) The synopsis shall set forth the name of the person charged, the title of the office, and a concise statement of the elements of the charge. Upon completion of the ballot synopsis, the preparer shall certify and transmit the exact language of the ballot synopsis to the persons filing the charge and the officer subject to recall. The preparer shall additionally certify and transmit the charges and the ballot synopsis to the superior court of the county in which the officer subject to recall resides and shall petition the superior court to approve the synopsis and to determine the sufficiency of the charges.

dan dempsey said...

Here is what happens in Superior Court:

RCW 29A.56.140
Determination by superior court — Correction of ballot synopsis.


Within fifteen days after receiving the petition, the superior court shall have conducted a hearing on and shall have determined, without cost to any party, (1) whether or not the acts stated in the charge satisfy the criteria for which a recall petition may be filed, and (2) the adequacy of the ballot synopsis. The clerk of the superior court shall notify the person subject to recall and the person demanding recall of the hearing date. Both persons may appear with counsel. The court may hear arguments as to the sufficiency of the charges and the adequacy of the ballot synopsis. The court shall not consider the truth of the charges, but only their sufficiency. An appeal of a sufficiency decision shall be filed in the supreme court as specified by RCW 29A.56.270. The superior court shall correct any ballot synopsis it deems inadequate. Any decision regarding the ballot synopsis by the superior court is final. The court shall certify and transmit the ballot synopsis to the officer subject to recall, the person demanding the recall, and either the secretary of state or the county auditor, as appropriate.

dan dempsey said...

About 32,000 valid signatures of registered Seattle voters would be needed to force a recall election for each director. These would need to be submitted by April 30, 2011. As these four director's positions are up for election on November 1, 2011.

RCW 29A.56.150
Filing supporting signatures — Time limitations.


(1) The sponsors of a recall demanded of any public officer shall stop circulation of and file all petitions with the appropriate elections officer not less than six months before the next general election in which the officer whose recall is demanded is subject to reelection.

(2) The sponsors of a recall demanded of an officer elected to a statewide position shall have a maximum of two hundred seventy days, and the sponsors of a recall demanded of any other officer shall have a maximum of one hundred eighty days, in which to obtain and file supporting signatures after the issuance of a ballot synopsis by the superior court. If the decision of the superior court regarding the sufficiency of the charges is not appealed, the one hundred eighty or two hundred seventy day period for the circulation of signatures begins on the sixteenth day following the decision of the superior court. If the decision of the superior court regarding the sufficiency of the charges is appealed, the one hundred eighty or two hundred seventy day period for the circulation of signatures begins on the day following the issuance of the decision by the supreme court.

SC Parent said...

Following up on Emeraldkity's comment and MW's question, not only does the 60 hours of training appear to be required AFTER the person starts working, but those hours also need to be "appropriate to the assigned grade level(s) as approved by the employing school district or approved private school" per the WAC.

Question - do they know their grade assignments when they're going through their 5-week TFA training? Does TFA custom-tailor their training to a specific grade level, or is it more general?

Because of the recent layoffs and budget issues, there are clearly not "shortages" (WAC) of certified teachers.

Nor can TFA employees be classified as "an opportunity to secure the services of unusually talented individuals," (WAC) because it seems that the TFA Agreement, in the No Warranty clause, states that:

"Teach For America does not make and has not made any representation and warranty as to the fitness of any Teacher presented or provided by Teach For America and Seattle Public Schools shall indemnify and hold harmless the TFA Indemnities from and against any Losses resulting from any claim related to the services provided by Teach For America, including, but not limited to, claims that any Teacher presented or provided by Teach For America was unfit for the position for which he or she was hired by Seattle Public Schools."

How can they be "unusually qualified" if TFA won't even present them as adequate or competent?

none1111 said...

Sue P, thanks for the update. Glad to know this hasn't been forgotten!

Now that the district is talking about sharing our kids' private info with Teach for America, Inc. as well, I would strongly recommend that parents opt out on the FERPA form.

With the "Our Schools Coalition" fiasco, do you know if families that had already opted out on their FERPA form still had their info shared?

The problem is that it's a procedural barrier, not a technical barrier. If the district is truly as careless (or cavalier) as they often appear to be, who's to say they're even paying attention to FERPA?!

none1111 said...

Let me repeat your quote again for good measure:

Now that the district is talking about sharing our kids' private info with Teach for America, Inc. as well, I would strongly recommend that parents opt out on the FERPA form.

Is there any good reason NOT to opt out? I can't think of any.

Maybe we should start a movement to get everyone to opt out? Show of hands?

Jan said...

SC Parent: I disagree with your position on the warranty language in the TfA contract. Frankly, I can't imagine that any School District hiring a TFA trained teacher would take the position that TFA had "warranted" their performance, but certainly we don't ask of any OTHER teacher prep organization that they "warrant" the performance of their grads. UW does not; SU and SPU do not. Why would TFA? And, if you want to treat them as a "placement" agency (the contract and the $4000 fee being the issues), I would imagine that any placement agency would take a similar stand (although, depending on what parties negotiate, you might be able to get a return of some or all of the year's placement fee -- but the School District agrees to terrible contracts, and the Board has a history of not reading what it approves, so it is not likely that SSD will negotiate this -- particularly since someone else has agreed to pay the fee.) How could TFA possibly know whether one of its selected teachers may or may not become clinically depressed during the first year and become unable to teach effectively? Or whether they will not get 2/3rds of the way through the first school year and discover that they are overwhelmed by the demands of the job, and not return for year 2? They can't. Obviously, if TfA consistently does not screen out people who later are unable to complete the program, it will be noticed and will discourage others from signing on with TFA -- but that would be true of any business trying to retain customers, or to attract new ones.