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Friday, November 26, 2010

As we approach year-end

As we approach the end of the year for Seattle Public Schools (there are only 15 school days and one Board meeting remaining), it is time to finish up anything that is due before year-end.

PROGRAM PLACEMENT
The deadline for Program Placement proposals has already passed. It was November 24. The Board is going to have a work session on Program Placement on December 9. I can't wait to hear that one. Program Placement has been the least transparent, the most political, and the most corrupt process in the District. There is a Program Placement Policy, C56.00, but the policy was weakly written and is completely un-enforced. The Board, performing oversight, has asked for rationale for program placement decisions, but has accepted explanations such as "We rejected the proposal because we are not recommending it." and "We rejected the proposal to place programs closer to where students live" without any data on where students live. Think of this. Muir, at the far south of the Washington service area, was chosen as the site for the elementary Spectrum program instead of Madrona, which is centrally located so that the program would be closer to the students' homes. How is that even possible?

ANNUAL REPORTS
Board Policy B61.00 requires the Superintendent to produce and "Provide annual report on District programs." There are not, of course, any such annual reports. I suppose that the District can claim that School Scorecards, are the annual reports on the schools, but that doesn't include ALL programs. Where is the annual report on Special Education? Where is the annual report on Bilingual Education? or Spectrum? or A.L.O.s? Where is the annual report on the Native American education program or CampaƱa Quetzal? Board Policy C45.00 is very clear:
It is the policy of the Seattle School District to develop and maintain a high level of effectiveness in each of its schools and programs as determined by multiple measures of improvement and in relation to established standards. A review of all schools and programs will be conducted annually using a process and criteria as approved by the Superintendent.
Where are these reports? Nowhere. Tick Tock. The year is nearly up.

CAPACITY MANAGEMENT
This is another annual report required by Policy. It is required by Policy H13.00. I encourage you all to read the Policy and know what is required. Here's the funny thing. The Policy was adopted a year ago but the superintendent says that there will not be a capacity management report this year. She says that they are still working on the criteria, metrics, assessments and benchmarks for the report. Seriously - it's taking them a year to work that out. Kind of makes you wonder how they made any capacity management decisions last year without even working this stuff out, doesn't it? Here's a fun fact: All Board Policies are effective immediately upon adoption (unless stated otherwise). That means that the superintendent does not have the option of taking a year - actually two years in this case - to comply with a Policy. Her report is due ahead of any program placement decisions, but she is just skipping it this year and the Board, those mice, are unlikely to squeak about it.

We can write to the Board and demand real rationale for program placement decisions.

We can write to the Board and request various annual reports.

We can write to the Board and demand a capacity management report.

We can write to them and demand these things. We can appear at their community meetings and demand these things. We can agitate all we want, but if the Board doesn't, in turn, make demands from the superintendent, there will be nothing done. If I had to bet, I would bet on nothing.

4 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

So what's a different way to let the Board know?

Maybe we could have a 12 days of broken promises. Let's line them up, the top 12, Charlie or I will make the list and you send one every single day, Dec. 1-12. I'll bet if they got a volume of the same complaint, then might take notice.

Charlie Mas said...

Ha ha!

Like the Twelve Days of Christmas song.

Neat idea!

So here are some contributions for the list:

1. Alternative Education Review
2. APP Review Response
3. Annual reports on programs
4. Capacity Management report
5. Community Engagement on Strategic Plan projects as described in the Plan and the Protocol
6. Acceleration programs that can be used in any school coming from the APP split.
7. Annual re-certification of advanced learning programs
8. Plans for supporting advanced learners in every school written into the CSIP.
9. Policy changes recommended in the School-Family partnership plan.
10. Responding to citizens who testify to the Board.
11. Supplemental Singapore Math in every school using Everyday Math
12. Revision of Policy D12.00 as directed by the Board nearly two years ago.
13. Board effort to enforce policies. The Board doesn't even have a mechanism for enforcing policy.
14. To establish a Transportation Task Force, conduct a real review of the Transportation Service Standards, and to bring forward a recommendation based on data, research, and best practices and to fulfill the District's community engagement standards while doing it.

Charlie Mas said...

I sent four emails yesterday.

One to the Board asking them to demand a capacity management report. The annual report is required by Policy H13.00, but the superintendent made some noises at a work session recently about not having the report this year as the staff are still working on the metrics for it. A year after the policy was adopted and a year after the big capacity management project they don't have metrics yet? How can they have done that capacity management project if they don't have metrics for capacity management? All policies are effective immediately upon adoption, including this one. The Board needs to demand and receive that report.

The second email was similar in that I encouraged the Board to demand and receive the annual reports on programs as required by a number of Board Policies, most notably C45.00. The Board should have annual reports on the effectiveness of Spectrum, Special Education, Bilingual Education, Campana Quetzal, the Native American program, Advanced Learning Programs, International programs, Montessori programs and more.

The third email went to the Ethics Officer, Noel Treat. In this message a lodged an ethics complaint about the superintendent for her failure to disclose her position on the Board of the Alliance for Education and for failing to recuse herself from all dealing between the District and the Alliance. I don't see how the Alliance is any different from NWEA. If she needs to disclose her relationship with them and recuse herself from the District's dealings with them, then the same standard should apply to the Alliance.

The fourth and final message went to Director Martin-Morris, who became indignant at suggestions - back in May - that the Alternative Education Review would not be done in the fall of 2010. He swore that it would. Well, here we are with only fifteen school days only one meeting of the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee left in the year. It doesn't look like the Review is going to happen on time. I asked him for an updated timetable.

Charlie Mas said...

I have an email from Director Maier in which he claims that the superintendent DID submit her capacity management report and that the report is on the District web site.

I'll look for it.