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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Urgent ! Sign up to Speak at Board Meeting

Look folks, if you are really worried/upset/frustrated over the TFA process, you have got to sign up to speak at the Board meeting this Wednesday. I feel certain there will be plenty of "go TFA" people. Use whatever I wrote if you feel like you don't know how to state it. I have word that SEA is NOT happy and they have quite a lot to say including some good suggestions about what the district should be doing.

E-mail boardagenda@seattleschools.org or call 252-0040 to get on the list. It is likely to be crowded but they have been clearing the waitlist as of the last two meetings.

FYI, the Superintendent has the last of her coffee chats this week.

Monday from 6-7 p.m. at Mercer Middle School
Tuesday from 8:10-10a.m. at North Beach Elementary School

(I just noticed that all the evening ones were 1 hour and the daytime ones were about 2 hours.)

20 comments:

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Gift said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o1y7B14usc

Puget Sound Tax Levy

Sahila said...

Live link to the Youtube video referenced by A Gift....


Puget Sound Tax Levy

For people in and around Seattle... another reason to vote no on the School Supplemental Levy.... and for the rest of us... a succinct history of education "reform", with chronology and names... pass it along...

Joseph Rockne said...

I just sent an email to speak out against TFA.

Charlie Mas said...

There is this weird little item on the board agenda that we see every year, the annual approval of schools. It is the first introduction item, but numbered with a 2.

Nevermind the arcane details or the state law that governs, the bottom line is that the Board needs to confirm each year that every school has a Continuous School Improvement Plan (CSIP) and that the CSIPs all meet the minimum requirements set by state law. Oddly, the Board members themselves do not attest to the CSIPs. Instead, the Board only passes a motion confirming that the Chief Academic Officer has assured them that the CSIPs are all there and that they meet the requirements. Weird, huh?

It gets weirder. Here is the District web page with all of the CSIPs on it. If you look, you will find a link for the CSIPs for Meany, Summit, Cooper, the AAA, and TT Minor. You will not, however, find one for Jane Addams.

If you click on each of the links you will be able to read the CSIP documents. Click on the one for Arbor Heights and you'll see that it is blank. There interesting thing about this is how much of the boilerplate language (seen here) is left intact by other schools.

Here's another funny thing about these CSIPs. Only six of twenty-one Spectrum schools mention Spectrum in their CSIP. Of those six, five only make a single passing reference. That's odd because schools that don't describe their Spectrum program in their CSIP are supposed to be de-certified as Spectrum schools. Of course, that rule has never been enforced. There is no reference in any of the Spectrum or APP school CSIPs that speak to how they intend to address the needs of advanced learners. Not one.

If it isn't in the CSIP, it won't get done.

The District used to make a lot of errors and used to fail to include some of the state-required elements in the CSIPs, but they don't make that mistake very much anymore now that they have the template document mostly filled out for them.

I will write to the Board to advise them of the missing elements, particularly the entire CSIP for Arbor Heights, but they will vote to approve anyway.

Patrick said...

Charlie, the web page of the school improvement plans is way out of date. They still have a blind link to Summit's improvement plan. However, Jane Addams' improvement plan can be found by guessing at the URL. It's at http://www.seattleschools.org/area/csip/csips/janeaddams.pdf

ttln said...

I can tell you, Charlie, that no one said anything to me/our department about specifying how we will me the needs of our advanced learners. In fact, the thrust of our CSIPs has been about how we will address the needs of those not meeting standard.

As a building "gifted" with Spectrum this year as part of the NSAP, you would think that this would have been brought to our attention. This is the first I have heard of it. Who is at fault? Where did the breakdown in communication occur? Your guess is as good as mine. The fault of the lack of accounting for advanced learning in the CSIPs may not be a building level attempt at skirting the issue.

I can tell you that we currently have an Advanced Learning Committee here in the building (of which I am a part). At our first meeting one of our questions was about the legitimacy of our existence since we were not part of the CSIP and therefore did not meet the criteria to exist, since all committees should work to support the CSIP. I will bring this up at our next meeting and make sure that our CSIP documents reflect how our building will address the needs of advanced learners. Thanks for the heads up!

Charlie Mas said...

Even in schools without official advanced learning programs (APP, Spectrum or ALO), the CSIP is supposed to address how they will meet the needs of advanced learners. However few, if any, of the CSIPs actually do this.

ttln said...

Do you have the policy information? I would love to send it to my co-committee members.

Maureen said...

At our first meeting one of our questions was about the legitimacy of our existence since we were not part of the CSIP and therefore did not meet the criteria to exist, since all committees should work to support the CSIP.

ttln, can you clarify this? I am one of the parent reps to our BLT. We worked on our CSIP together this month and no one said anything like this to us.

Can anyone clarify the role of "data coaches" in the CSIP process? I got the impression that the numerical goals (percent increase in growth on the MAP) this year were suggested by the "data coach." And would that be Jessica de Barros or are there multiple staff who "coach" administrators on test data?

uxolo said...

Some of us who wrote to Kay Smith Blum regarding Teach for America were copied on her response. There are many excellent replies which will go to the Board.I hope she reads them carefully to counteract the Kool Aid.

Here is what Kay wrote to us:
"Hello all,
I greatly appreciate your expressing your concerns about TFA in SPS. I have voiced many of them myself in the past few months. My main concern is that we have the best quality teachers in every school. And that the instructors have a minimum of a 10 year commitment to our students, as research shows that the 4th thru 10th year of teaching are the most effective ones in a teacher who stays for a decade or slightly more.
Currently, TfA is stating that their members are staying in the educational field more than 50% of the time. This is a big change in the past 5 years where most prior to that only stayed 2 years and left the field. TfA is building more supports and much more training into their work as well.....resulting in far less isolation of their members. The support mechanisms to make ANY of teacher in our district successful is of foremost concern to me.
District staff has indicated they have a private donor for the $4000 fee per TfA member. The identify of that donor.......that might be a question to pursue in any testimony on the 3rd....along with requests for research that TfA is citing in their meetings with community members.
Finally, any TfA candidate will have to go thru the same process as any other candidate for our teaching core. The maximum TfA teachers that the district might hire would be about 25 out of our core of 2500+. I am hopeful that we can require all our teachers with alternative certifications to apply for their national certification.

Of course, as you all know – certified teachers vary greatly in their effectiveness dependent on numerous factors, including the school from which they received their training. From my frame, whether it is TfA or other new teachers, our process needs to strengthen around supports and development. This is my main focus in our budget process, creating an enhanced WSS to give our schools and instructors what they need.
Best,
ksb.


Kay Smith-Blum
Seattle School Board Director, District 5"

Sahila said...

So, I guess KSB is voting FOR TFA to come into SPS....

Eric B said...

Sahila, I don't think that's what she's saying at all. To me, she has left her options open depending on what she hears at the meeting. I read the following:

A. It's a problem that 50% of TFA teachers leave after 2 years. She wants to see most teachers staying for at least 10 years.

B. If TFA teachers go back to prior retention levels*, then it would be even worse. [This is reading between the lines even more than the rest of this post.]

C. We should support any new teacher in the district as well as we support TFA teachers, and encourage all teachers to get regular certifications.

D. The district would only hire TFA teachers who seemed to be good teachers in their interviews. **

E. We need to focus dollars into the classrooms.

F. We want to know who the private funding sources are.

@@ IMPORTANT! I don't know anything about Kay Smith-Blum's opinions on this issue. I'm just reading and trying to parse the email text. @@

And now my comments:

* TFA's retention might well sink again when the economy turns around and more jobs are available.

** This would hopefully weed out people who wouldn't be good teachers. On the other hand, if there is pressure on the hiring committee to hire TFA teachers, then some might get through the screening process. On the third hand, any interview process can leave you with employees that don't meet your expectations--that goes for certificated staff, too.

Only item D is wholly positive about TFA, and even that is a bit left-handed. A and B are negative. C is neutral, and E could be read as negative, particularly in the context of F, which implies that she doesn't know where the money for the TFA contract comes from. If there aren't clear funding sources available, I would read the tea leaves as opposed to the TFA contract.

Eric B said...
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uxolo said...

Kay says there's a private donor for the 4k required. I read her email as "ready to go" -- she justifies why it would be ok.

Melissa Westbrook said...

It's a public school district. They need to name the donor and name the supporting university. Why all the secrecy?

dan dempsey said...

So just because there is a donor, does that exempt the District from requiring competitive bids to use an employment agency for $4000 a head?

As Michael DeBell said about the NTN contract .... why are we not doing this in house?

Anonymous said...

According to KUOW's report this morning, the donor is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

They went on to report that they needed three districts to agree to TFA before they would come here. There's one other district besides Seattle that has already agreed (well Seattle still needs approval on Wed., but it was discussed as if it was a done deal) and I'm not sure about the third.

The First Arnold said...

"According to KUOW's report this morning, the donor is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation"

I'm not at all surprised. I still predict- If the Levy fails, Mr. Gates will be writing more checks. Gates wants a measurement tool to evaluate teacher effectiveness...badly. Even, if our children are used as research subjects- without parental knowledge.

Sahila said...

its not even that Gates want a measuring tool to measure teacher effectivenss...

How stupid will Bill Gates look if he cant get reform in the door and bedded down in his own home town????