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Friday, November 12, 2010

Board Calendar

There are some interesting items on the Board calendar for this month.

On Wednesday, November 17, the Board has three meetings:

Board Work Session re Scorecard 4:00pm - 5:00pm
This could be interesting because it could lead to some pointed questions about the poor results shown on the scorecard. The District is on pace to meet only four of twenty goals.

Parent Appeal re Curriculum 5:00pm - 5:30pm
Does anyone know what this is about? Is this the appeal of the use of Brave New World as a text? If so, then why is it described as "curriculum" instead of "materials"? I wonder how long it took this person to get their appeal scheduled? I'm having a devil of a time getting an appeal scheduled myself.

Regular School Board Meeting 6:00pm
This is the meeting at which the Board will approve the contract with Teach for America. It would be really great if someone would speak to another issue - any other issue - during the public testimony.

8 comments:

Eric B said...

I gathered from the last Board meeting that the whole issue was that a parent objected to the way Brave New World was taught at Hale and appealed the use of the material both at Hale and Districtwide. I didn't get what happened at Hale, but apparently, the request to remove it Districtwide was shut down by the appeals process. This hearing is to determine if the text should be taught in any SPS high school.

Again, this is my understanding. It seemed ridiculously convoluted and a gigantic waste of Board time, so I might not have caught the details.

WV all in

Dorothy Neville said...

Have you seen Maier's amendment to the TfA contract?

It's something, gotta say that. Even acknowledges public concerns.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, bravo Peter. I am certain that the Super won't like this, TFA won't like this but hey, they are not the deciders.

I still say no to TFA but at least Peter is listening. The only other thing:

"..(provided that the data and information does not compromise
the privacy of any individual teacher)."

I see nothing in here to protect the privacy rights of student identifiable data that is in the contract. I would say, if I were a Director, that would be a drop-dead clause - it's out or I would vote no. Or the district takes extraordinary measures to make sure every single parent in each TFA class understands this clause is there and how to opt their child out via FERPA.

Charlie Mas said...

This is not Peter Maier giving pushback on TfA, this is Peter Maier fully accepting TfA.

BOOO!

Braessae said...

Melissa: I totally agree, especially because not only can individual personal data be given to third parties, there is no requirement that the recipient agree in any way to treat it as confidential.

Example: Tfa has a request from a high tech data mapping company for all the personal information they can provide on the kids in TfA classes from School X. They claim they "need" it because they are going to use it to analyze the effectiveness of specific teaching strategies used by TfA teachers on those kids. The data they are provided includes names, addresses (useful for demographic analysis), grades, social security numbers (part of the file and useful to track a specific child over a number of years), special ed status, school disciplinary history, background notes on parents (languages spoken, criminal history, employment status, etc.)

Now, I don't KNOW how many of these things might be available to third parties. Very possibly some are not, either because the District doesn't keep them, or because the District might decide not to make them available. But do any of us know what the District does and does not have in files? Does anyone have ANY level of confidence that the District would rigorously analyze what data to provide, and how to restrict it? As I read the draft contract, if the District has the data -- they can provide it to TfA and Tfa is permitted to give it to ANY other third party -- as long as that third party states that it "needs" the data.

Bad, but it gets worse.

The third party now has the data, and does the mapping exercise. Fine. But -- they still have the data, and nothing in the District's contract with TfA contract requires TfA to make the third party give it back to the District, destroy it, keep it confidential, or restrict its further use or dissemination in any way. Can the data mapping company sell it? Can they pledge it as collateral to a bank (along with all of their other assets -- and blanket asset pledges are VERY common) and, if they default on their bank loan, could the bank sell it? If they merge with another large company, it now belongs to THAT company (whoever they may be), right?

Never, never, never, have I seen a contract that permitted the transfer of confidential data to a third party without (1) restricting its use, (2) requiring the other contracting party to maintain its confidentiality after transfer, and (3) requiring the other party to the contract to contractually require similar restrictions of any entity they give the data to. In fact, I have never seen a contract where the party with the confidential data (here, the District) did not require its transferee (here, TfA) to indemnify it for any losses resulting from ANY further transfer or misuse of that data, once it was in the transferee's hands. As this contract is written, if a bunch of information is ultimately misused -- as long as TfA was not grossly negligent (which it won't be, if the data misuse is by a third party, not TfA), and a parent or child sues the District and TfA -- the District pays not only its legal costs, but also TfAs.

Contd

Braessae said...

It is even worse. Because the WHOLE problem could be avoided by either (a) not agreeing (in advance) to give TfA student specific data at all, or (2) not agreeing (in advance) to let them give it to others.

If they have a fierce need to pass it along, NOTHING would stop them from coming to the District and asking for permission. At that point, the District could explore what the need is for specific data, either say yes or no, AND require that specific protections (destruction of data after use, etc.) be placed on the data transfer.

But, nope. THIS District is prepared to just hand over all the keys to all of the data on the front end. What, me worry?

Kathy said...

I'd like to give a shout out to
M. DeBell.

M.DeBell is asking the district to provide detailed Central HQ budget for public viewing.

uxolo said...

Data collection costs the district -- providing data to an outside agency costs the district: time, resources, a program that collects and sorts. All of this support for TfA is ANOTHER EXPENSE.

We don't have data analysis for simple information like discipline policies or PTSA donations from school-to-school and now we are going into an agreement that will require following individual students over time? I would predict that those classes will get additional testing so that TfA data from state-to-state can be compared - unless they are only entering schools with long term MAP contracts.

Yes, we need to send letters to the Bd. TfA is not a good idea.