Twenty Speakers, One Topic

The agenda for the School Board meeting has been posted. There are twenty names for public testimony but they are all speaking on the same topic: Teach for America contract.

I don't see the point. Voice your perspective! Don't be deterred by the probability that the Board is going to approve it because not one of them can see a single reason not to.

Here's the list:
1. Jonathan Knapp - (SEA) against

2. Dan Dempsey - (activist) against

3. Sydney Jarol - (Ballard High School student) position unknown

4. Nathan Fitzpatrick - (Teach for America) for

5. India Carlson - (teacher) against

6. Jess Hasken - (Stand for Children) for

7. Becca Shim - (teacher) ?

8. Elisabeth de Leeuw - (test prep tutor) ?

9. Kristin Bailey-Fogarty - (teacher) ?

10. Patricia Robertson - ?

11. Lisa Macfarlane - (SchoolsFirst!) for

12. Kristen Cater - (teacher) for

13. Janis Ortega - (Teach for America) for

14. Steve Milam - (attorney) ?

15. Matthew Shedlock - (IA?) ?

16. Matt Carter - (software engineer) ?

17. Dora Taylor - (activist) against

18. Margaret McGuire - ?

19. Mel Westbrook - (activist) against

20. Greg Wong - (Teach for America) for


Charlie Mas said…
By the way, the CSIPs posted online have not yet been updated.
seattle citizen said…
One would think that with all twenty slots filled with people speaking on TFA (a record, I believe), the board would understand that the community demands voice in this and hasn't had it. You'd think that that alone would suffice to stop the process and further engage the stakeholders before unilaterally approving this action.
AIEC said…
Wouldn't assume that these are all people speaking against TFA. Greg Wong is TFA's local attorney.
chunga said…
I respectively but strongly disagree with Charlie's saying there's no point in speaking out on the TFA proposal.

Even if the board already has their mind made up, it's important that they know that much of the public is against it. It's also important to show support for our teachers who are speaking against it. Other parents/citizens watching also need to know what wrong with this proposal.

There are at least 5 that I know will be speaking against, probably quite a few more.

I urge everyone to come out and support our teachers and oppose the TFA contract.
seattle citizen said…
AIEC, I don't think anyone's assuming they're all speaking out against TFA. We know that TFA will certainly be represented. It was about 50/50 at the last meeting, and will likely be similar this time.

My point was that with so much testimony, pro and con, it raise the issue that this is a contentious action, and the size of the contention is apparent, and that this suggests the subject needs more attention, engagement and discussion.

There are numerous points of contention, and there has been scant opportunity for public engagement. We need more.
gavroche said…
Anonymous AIEC said...

Wouldn't assume that these are all people speaking against TFA. Greg Wong is TFA's local attorney.

11/16/10 4:43 PM

Why does TFA need a local attorney?
Charlie Mas said…
chunga, you are right. I was wrong. Of course people should express their perspective and their concerns. Whether the Board pays more attention to special interests or the interests of students and families is outside our control.
seattle citizen said…
Let's not forget that the speed of this action, the apparent need for haste, is directly attributable to TFA itself, which conviently contends that they simply MUST have three districts NOW.

Otherwise, we'd be able to study the matter further, no?

Why on earth would we let TFA drive the deliberative process and pace on a matter of such importance? Where is the thoughtul study of ALL the various ways the goals of this action ("broaden the pool" and "partner with (somebody) to address the acheivement gap") might be met, the various agencies, people, and supports (withing the district, and, if necessary, externally) that might be enlisted, the various costs...

We have heard not a word about any of that. Why? Because TFA needs to be hired RIGHT NOW?

Is that the only basis for such speedy action?

I know first-year, fully certified teachers....wonderful, proven, National Board certified teachers...who want to be hired RIGHT NOW, too. They were laied off last year. Can they just tell the district that they have an immediate, food...and get hired so easily?

No? How very unfair.
seattle citizen said…
TFA has a local attorney?

deteechur said…
citizen at 11/16/10 4:16 PM

Whoa! There will be input! Just like the high school math adoption, there will be clearing of throats, there will be expressions of concern, there will be calls for follow up, there will be pointed questions ...


and then the Giant Economy RUBBER STAMP will go "Bonk!" on the approval paperwork.

Check out Mel's diary about Sacramento - maybe the WEA will get some "leadership" less focused on rubber chicken luncheons with big wigs who keep selling us out on big things and tossing us chump change on chump things?

Steve said…
I guess all the parents concerned about APP will be at the Ingrahm meeting, taking place at the same time....
Charlie Mas said…
Hey! What happened to reserving the first public testimony position for a student?

How come they don't do that anymore?
seattle citizen said…
Steve, was the APP meeting set up by the the same time as the board meeting...or did the APP community set it up?

Charlie, I agree: Why isn't a slot reserved for a student? I thought that was a good initiative. I hope they add a 21st slot to accomodate a student first, but I guess that would be against policy.
Sahila said…
Seattle teacher Jesse Hagopian's Op Ed on TFA in today's Times:

Teach for Awhile
Mr. Edelman said…
Kristin Bailey-Fogarty = for TFA
Benedict Arnold said…
Isn't the Ingraham meeting next week? The 22nd?
Anonymous said…
I just came across the following in our CBA recently ratified:

ArticleVIII, Section 2 (definition of displaced staff), letter g: Are new recruits to the SPS who have been offered contracts and need assignments. (Who are these people who get contract w/o a position?)

Section 3: All individuals remaining in the displaced pool on July 1st, including new recruits, will have a temporary assignment prior to the opening of school. These temporary assignments will be in vacant positions for which they qualify or, if no position for which they qualify exists, they may be placed on temporary assignments in buildings to assist as a substitute on contract until another position for which they are qualified is available.

This looks like an “in” to me. Is this common? To hire people without a position with the hope of sticking them into one? Hmm.

-off to NSAP meeting no time to log in
Anonymous said…
displace staff are placed in phase I

peonypower said…
sydney Jarrol will be speaking against TFA
Anonymous said…
Greg Wong is on the board of Schools First (who were pro-Seattle Schools Prop. 1) and is on the City of Seattle Families and Education Oversight Committee.
dan dempsey said…
There definitely is a point to active resistance and getting the Board to act responsibly. Just almost impossible to get a certain four directors to act responsibly. Check out my Posts at the Math Underground:

Recall Sufficiency Hearing for Sundquist, Martin-Morris, Carr, and Maier on Thursday at 3:00 PM.

Check my Summary in the comments in the "Good News on Cleveland" Post about likely one Class C Felony and one Gross Misdemeanor.

Here is my Testimony for the Board Meeting.
wseadawg said…
TFA already asked for and received $50 million of our tax dollars from the Federal Government to support their Westward expansion.

You've got to hand it to them, even the MOU documents are deceptive as hell, never once mentioning the ACTUAL RETENTION RATE of TFA teachers, that some just might have an interest in knowing. But at less than 1 in 5, they won't talk about "Classroom Teachers" except in the most deceptive way possible, like saying two-thirds continue to work in Education. And guess where? Places like NCTQ, Gates Foundation Dept of Ed, etc. All those places busting our unions and shackling our kids to standardized testing.

So yes, yes, yes, Seattle School Board! Vote in favor of TFA! Let these 22 year olds show us the way! And then watch 80% of them say "see-ya" in two years, handing the baton to another rookie!

I could use 50 million bucks. Why didn't I think of this scam?
Noam said…
Are you sure that's not Steve Mullen (attorney) the head of the Washington Roundtable? Since his repeated attempts to ignore the will of voters by pushing charter schools in Olympia, he routinely takes on any and all other corporate agenda items near and far.
mirmac1 said…
Even if the Board wields it's trusty rubber stamp, TfA should be cautious about signing any leases for office space until the considerable dust clears. ALL parties, from universities and "funding partners" would be foolish to proceed until legal questions are resolved. And Federal Way's attorneys should be reading the fine print because, remember, no refunds allowed.
mirmac1 said…
Oh, I wonder how Noel Treat feels having all this big shot lawyers coming to his aid. Do they think they're gonna deliver the smackdown? I guess they can't commit malpractice by speaking as "private citizens." Fact is, they could lie through their teeth. Listen for the weasel words. Maybe there is a purpose for their presence.....
Most of those unknowns are TFA. I checked. AIEC, most of those ARE speaking for TFA (although I do like my placement in the line-up - I don't plan to pull any punches).

TFA has an everything. Trying to talk to two former TFA teachers who are now full-certificated teachers in our district? Out of nowhere, I get an e-mail from the regional TFA person telling me when to meet them, for how long and how long I would be talking with her.

Say what? Who is this person that one (or both) of these teachers felt the need to contact? I'm thinking TFA has a standing rule that if anyone contacts you about TFA, you must notify the regional person. That this person, who does not work for the district, is telling me when I can come into the school and for how long took my breath away.

Naturally, I didn't go and I let her know that it was a little creepy to suddenly have someone I didn't know and who has no authority to tell me anything, dictating a meeting plan.

I did meet off-site with one of the teachers who is the nicest guy in the world and probably a good teacher. But I have a feeling he would have been a good teacher, TFA or no.

The point is TFA is a pretty controlling place. I'll bet you don't step off the line without someone knowing. I'd love to see the contract they sign to be TFAers. First line must be "Thou shall not speak ill of TFA."
Anonymous said…
This is a Letter to the Editor in response to the TFA article in "Rethinking Schools":

‘Talented Amateurs’

Thank you for Barbara Miner’s article on TFA. Very interesting, very well done. I was part of a team of teachers, university professors, school administrators, and parents who evaluated the TFA program in the Seattle Public Schools in the mid-90s. TFA had talked its way into the state somehow on a trial basis, even though Seattle had no shortage of real teachers. What we found then was that TFA was an incredible mess, to a large extent as a result of Wendy Kopp’s arrogance about her own expertise and that of her early TFA-alumni employees.

I went to Ivy League schools, so it was easy for me to recognize the TFA employees’ class-based arrogance. The young woman managing the program—18 TFAers, I believe—was a TFA recruit who had taught in an elementary school for two years; the person responsible for providing professional development/support had taught elementary school for one year. But all the TFA folks in Seattle were teaching in high schools. It was ugly.

The TFA teachers were all talented, very hardworking 22-year-olds who were doing some good because of their enthusiasm and caring. By March, however, when we interviewed them, they were burning out from 80-hour workweeks and no real support.

I gather that TFA has improved its summer prep and its ongoing support. But it also seems that Kopp’s class-based arrogance has evolved into TFA becoming a cog in the reactionary privatization movement.

I think you capture the two main problems with TFA: 1) It’s all about Wendy Kopp, and 2) TFA is self-contradictory because it keeps the school districts that take TFA teachers from accepting the responsibility of providing every student with a competent, professional educator.

What the students in TFA classrooms get is a talented, enthusiastic amateur.

—David Marshak, Coordinator, Exploration Academy Online, and Adjunct Instructor, Fairhaven College, Bellingham, Wash.

A reader
Anonymous said…
I like your place in the lineup too, Mel. That fooled me for a minute!
seattle citizen said…
Melissa, your story about the TFA regional person wanting to control every aspect of the meeting reminds me of a story:

My mother was born in Vancouver, Canada. About twenty years ago, she got a frantic phone call from a friend she hadn't spoken with in thirty years. Her friend's daughter had been sucked in by Scientology, down here in Seattle. The mother came down and stayed at my mom's, and tried to talk with her daughter. Every time she went there, there would be other scientologists around, monitoring...

The daughter got deeper and deeper in, and her bank accounts were drained.

Cults. Terrible things. Not a lot of room for free thinking.
Anonymous said…

Your experience with the TFA organization is typical. I am an alum, now fully state certified and National Board certified. I have been trying for years to get TFA to stop contacting me with surveys, fund raising appeals, invitations to leadership summits, and requests to recruit on college campuses. I strongly dislike the organization. It is true that the corps members are generally well meaning. The organization is...well... a little frightening.

I have written countless emails to TFA clearly articulating my unwillingness to be part of their alumni network in any form or fashion. I have explained with as much clarity as I could that I do not support their role in education reform, do not believe their training and support is sufficient or effective, and want absolutely nothing to do with them. Last week I got yet another email, titled "Your chance to be heard" asking me to complete a survey. The irony was overwhelming.

The arrogance you perceive is quite real. When I worked at the Summer Institute, I unceremoniously dumped the binder containing the curriculum I was to "deliver" into the trash. It was written by TFA alums whose 2 years of classroom experience made them believe they could prepare 21 year olds who had never stood in front of a classroom how to teach. It was awful.

The truth is after Institute, TFA corps members have had perhaps at most 40 hours of experience actually teaching students. One lesson a day for 4 weeks. One work week of teaching total.

Only one of the twelve corps members I mentored was remotely ready for her own classroom. She was a natural and had worked as a camp counselor in college. The other eleven were going into some of the toughest classrooms in NYC with a handful of skills.

So MGJ is "surprised" that teachers oppose TFA's move to Seattle. It's innovative so we should be all for it. I guess she wasn't paying attention during contract negotiations.

Well, I am decidedly against it. First and foremost because I believe that students deserve well trained teachers, and I know firsthand that TFA training does not come close to accomplishing that.

I'll be there tomorrow night with a clever sign and a tiny bit of irrational hope that this might not pass.

Dismayed Teacher
suep. said…
Naive question:

Who exactly is allowed to testify at school board meetings? Isn't it meant to be a forum for the general local public?

Are vendors whose products are going before the board for a vote normally allowed to pitch their wares at this forum? Because isn't that essentially what Janis Ortega is -- a spokesperson for Teach for America, Inc., whose services/product she is trying to sell to SPS?

Same with those TFA lawyers who are planning to speak.

I'm not trying to be snide here. I honestly want to know what the rules are. Cause I thought those precious 20 public testimony spots were meant for community members.

-- sue p.
dan dempsey said…
Dear Sue p.

In the Everyday Math adoption in May 2007 the publisher's representatives spoke in testimony.

That was a special Board Meeting and the third meeting of May, and there were an unlimited number of speaking slots.
Charlie Mas said…
Any member of the public may address the Board during the Public Testimony section of the Board Meeting. There are no restrictions or requirements.

Board Policy E06.00 states:
"It is the policy of the Seattle School Board to provide the opportunity for public participation in meetings of the Board and to hear any person or group of persons who wish to speak."
dan dempsey said…
"It is the policy of the Seattle School Board to provide the opportunity for public participation in meetings of the Board and to hear any person or group of persons who wish to speak."

As long as they can get one of the prized 20 spots.

If you were not going to speaking on an action item on this Wednesday, there is no way you get to have an opportunity for public participation through testimony.

Primary selection order is:
(1) Action Items
(2) Introduction Items
(3) Other concerns

The Tie breaker is time of sign-up.

I emailed my request at
8:00:02 AM Monday
Steve said…
Benedict Arnold, the APP meeting at Ingrahm is Wednesday, Nov. 17. Here's the blurb from the Advanced Learning page:

Meeting for Families with Students in the Accelerated Progress Program, Grades 8 and 9, at Ingraham High School, 6:30-8:00 PM, November 17, 2010

Families with students in the Accelerated Progress Program (APP) in 8th and 9th grade are invited to meet with representatives from the Advanced Learning Office and from Ingraham High School to discuss a possible new program to be offered at Ingraham High School in Fall 2011. Others are welcome, but the focus of the meeting will be on a possible program option for students in these particular grades.
AIEC said…
This is how I know:

Equity in Education: Race, Class, and the ‘Race to the Top’
Share · Public Event

Time Monday, May 10 · 4:00pm - 5:30pm

Location W.H. Gates Hall Room 138 (UW School of Law)

Created By William H. Gates Public Service Law Program

Sponsored by the Education Law and Policy Society at UW Law
Please join a panel of distinguished speakers from the Seattle area as they discuss issues of equity in public education with a focus on race and class. The panel will consider the implications of President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative on promoting education reform and increasing equity in the classroom.

Lisa Escobar – Principal, Rainier Beach High School,Seattle
Patricia Loera –Education Program Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Shannon McMinimee – Associate, Preg, O’Donnell, & Gillett practicing School Law
Mitch Price – Legal Analyst, Center on Reinventing Public Education
Greg Wong – Associate, K&L Gates; Teach for America’s Washington Counsel
Anonymous said…
"Oh, I wonder how Noel Treat feels having all this big shot lawyers coming to his aid"

Um, let's see, Noel Treat, husband of recently departed Carol Rava-Treat (formerly of Gates), whose sole job was apparently to develop the corporate philanthropic reltationships for SPS? I am sure that if he didn't directly place the call for help, he wasn't surprised to take the calls offering assistance. I hear that the General Counsel is also the "Ethics Officer."

Skeptical in Seattle
mirmac1 said…
Well, SPS lawyers have been known to make false or misleading statements to public officials.
dan dempsey said…
Amazing ... Absolutely Amazing...

Equity in Education: Race, Class, and the ‘Race to the Top’
Share · Public Event

Please join a panel of distinguished speakers from the Seattle area as they discuss issues of equity in public education with a focus on race and class.

Note totally oblivious to instructional issues.

Note the panelists' credentials likely assure us that most of the panelists are totally clueless about effective instruction and how to provide meaningful efficient interventions to a sound instructional program.

Race to the Top should be rejected.

SB 6696 allows the legislature to dump the whole RttT mess in January. The Common Core Standards are yet another bad idea from RttT and Obama/Duncan.

How to spend more money in less than optimal ways .... your tax dollars at Waste.


What am I thinking? I saw the word education and thought this was about improving student learning.

My mistake it is about more Edu-Cratic baloney.
Anonymous said…
For anyone that did not make it to the speaker's list and I know at least one parent who didn't, please attend this meeting anyway. Your presence with or without signs, is important.

The more that the board members are aware of our displeasure towards having our children taught by amateur not even wanna-be teachers, the better.

If they don't "get it" tomorrow night, they can start to find something else to do on Wednesday evenings in the near future.
Anonymous said…
Make that two parents who cannot speak because TFA has chosen to fill up spots as a tactic to convince the board, et al, that TFA is the way to go to close the opportunity gap.
seattle said…
Dan, Aviation high school is fantastic too, but I'd hardly compare it to STEM. STEM takes all comers. Have you ever seen
Aviation Highs admissions process? It rivals that of an Ivy League private school.

They get three applicants for every seat, and their selection process is very competitive. It weeks many kids out, and it's no wonder they get the most motivated students and very high test scores.

To apply to Aviation high a student has to:

Complete an application (on their own, no help from parents) and word process it. The application asks among other things, about GPA, high school classes taken in middle schools, highest level math class taken, if you need sped services, have an IEP, or have ever been suspended or expelled.

Applicants have to write 3 different essays.One about themselves, one about what motivates them, and one about Obama.

Applicants have to have a letter of recommendation from their current science or math teacher, and their English/LA teacher.

Applicants must attend a school interview wearing business casual attire. Business casual attire is also the dress code for the school.

Applicants must sign a commitment statement.

Applicants have to collect and submit many documents to the school, including transcripts and standardized test scores.

from their website

"Each part of the application will be assessed for completeness and quality of response. Incomplete applications will not be considered."

"What to expect at the interview:
A team of students and a school staff member will conduct your interview. You should plan to arrive at the interview in AHS school-appropriate attire or better. Our dress code is ‘business casual’. You will be asked to respond to questions and provide information that may not have been part of your application. You will also be required to respond, in writing, to a question. "

"As with the application, we will evaluate the quality and completeness of your responses during the interview process.
We are looking for your authenticity, passion for aviation and aerospace, commitment to working hard to succeed in a rigorous course of study, intent to attend and graduate from college or other post-secondary education program, and commitment to being with us for four full years of high school."

"When you and your parents sign the commitment statements on your application, convince us that you take it seriously. "

I'd HATE to see any SPS school have an application "process" like this. And for those who do think an application process like this is acceptable for a public school - don't whine about charters not taking all comers ever again.
seattle said…
These are PUBLIC meetings Dora. Remember? There is a process, and everyone who follows it has the same right to attend and/or speak.
gavroche said…
Ah yes, the "process" -- Seattle's mantra. As long as everyone follows "the process," everything is OK. (Wasn't that Steve Sundquist's notorious rationale for voting, against all sound evidence to the contrary, for Discovering math?)

Back to that RTTT forum: that was certainly a stacked deck. Most all of them have ties to corporate ed reform, so I'm sure there was no one objectively analyzing the pros and cons of RTTT, and Shannon McMinimee, up until recently, was SPS's obfuscating legal counsel.
mirmac1 said…
In a long traditional of obfuscating SPS legal counsel...
Anonymous said…
I went to that event. Lisa Escobar and Shannon McMinimee were by far the best speakers on the pannel and weren't pushing an Ed Reform agenda at all. Ms. McMinimee answered the question of what does it take to change a school or perception of a school, and gave a strait forward answer using Ballard in the late 1990s and Sealth currently as examples. Mr. Wong was a strait up TFA cheerleader.


Popular posts from this blog

Tuesday Open Thread

Seattle Public Schools and Their Principals

COVID Issues Heating up for Seattle Public Schools