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Monday, November 08, 2010

Well, the SCPTSA Is Listening; Is the Board Next?

So the Seattle Council PTSA sent an e-news bulletin labelled: "Debate Teach For America - Debate centers on certification churn need." They present an overview and some pros and cons.

They call TFAers "teaching candidates" which is better than teachers.

They explain about the costs but say:

HOWEVER, the district has pursued private funds to pick up those costs for this contract.

That's NOT true. There has been no guarantee that the "donor" is going to pick up for all three years of the contract. (And you do know - right - that TFA seems to have a sliding fee. They seem to have charged almost nothing for the teachers in the Delta area and are charging Federal Way $3k per teacher per year while they are going to charge Seattle $4k per year.)

They do well to raise the issues of student privacy and the loose interpretation of the state law on conditional certification.

SPS agrees to share student-identiable (sic) with Teach for America for the purposes of professional development. Normally, this would be protected information.

The contract uses a loose interpretation of conditional certification. In Washington, teachers must be certificated. HOWEVER, if they teach a subject where there are shortages of candidates, or the candidate is unusually talented, then teachers can be granted conditional certification. The state requirements are specific.

Seattle Public Schools would request conditional certificates for Teach for America candidates on grounds of "circumstances." Yet the contract specifically says TFA candidates will not be limited to critical or shortage areas, and it is not clear what unique talents the candidates will offer.

The last statement says:

eNews Bulletins do NOT go out to all members. They are sent to PTA/PTSA leaders, school leaders and community subscribers. Please share as appropriate.

Please let your PTA president(s) know that this information should be in kid mail and/or on your school's website this week.

While I have happy to see the SCPTA stepping up with this info, it is not going directly to membership nor is there any way to ask questions or have a real debate. I hope the Board isn't going to try to call this public engagement because it's not.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

You haven't got their notification up but I read it earlier tonight.

All I want to say is that Ramona and Heidi were in front of the line in Olympia pushing Bill 6696, the Ed Reform bill for our state, and part of that bill is to provide alternative routes to teacher certification.

Some of us knew that it was all about TFA only because we saw what was happening in urban areas around the country. Charter schools were established and cheap labor had to follow.

Well, it's here now thanks to the efforts of Broad and Gates backed faux roots organizations and the PTSA.

Whether they understood what the big picture was or not, it is ironic that they are trying to hide behind the curtain of neutrality now that the you-know-what has hit the fan.

Sahila said...

Here is Diane Ravitch, telling a recent Seattle forum about Teach for America:

Diane ravitch - Teach for America

5000feet said...

Please can we keep the conversation to issues not individuals? It elevates the tone and allows us to address the real matters of concern. I may or may not agree with individuals, but I can take true positions on things like 6696, which certainly had some pros and cons.

Alternative routes: The PESB is now opening them up thanks to this part of 6696. There are many institutions (not just TFA) that can now ask PESB to certify their track-- such as community colleges that want to establish teacher prep programs. This opening up the field is crucial when you consider that many private programs are $25,000 plus, and that research shows us that students do well when they have teacher role models who have cultural competency to communicate with the students and families they serve. I am hoping to see many alternative routes begin in WA, and attract more teachers from diverse backgrounds to the profession. It's more than TFA. To readthe text of 6696 go to: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/

Sahila said...

5000feet...

Alternative routes to certification is one issue... bringing uncertified "teachers" into the District under the pretense that there is teacher shortage and these people have skills not otherwise available, and charging SPS handsomely for the 'privilege' of putting these untried recruits in front of some of the most vulnerable children in our community, is quite another...

And its interesting that the SCPTSA was all in favour of this in Olympia (far from the ears of the folks at home, especially since the SCPTSA has a history of not discussing issues fully with ALL its membership), but now that the ramifications/consequences are knocking at the city Gates, (pun intended), they want it both ways... remains "neutral" so that if the shit hits the fan, it can say "we didnt support this" and if it goes down well with the natives, it can say "we weren't the ones stepping in the way of progress"...

Or is SCPTSA playing it "safe' because you really havent been consulting with your general membership on all these issues, you've been caught out lying about that at Board testimony and you're trying to avoid a dust-up/rebellion internally?

curious said...

can you post the whole thing here? is it too long? thanks...

wseadawg said...

Sorry 5000 feet, but accountability comes with the titles.

Heidi and Ramona spoke up and lobbied as representatives of the Seattle PTSA and weren't camera-shy in the least, while arguably treading far beyong the scope of what their members wanted or were fully informed about while putting for the Community Values Statement and lobbying the legislature for reform.

There's nothing personal about criticizing a public figure, which both are. I appreciate their efforts and work they've done for the schools in general, but I believe both were either naive and/or belligerent in their conduct and manner in which they achieved their supposed consensus from the local PTAs in support of the CVS.

I didn't like it then, and I sure don't like it now. If people think that's a personal attack, oh well. It's my opinion.

dan dempsey said...

Anyone who is pushing SB 6696 needs to examine their thought process.

(1) The State has no money to finance this expensive fiasco.

(2) It will result in a complete loss of local control.

(3) We have no idea what the assessments will look like. The fact that WASL creator "Joe Wilhoft" left OSPI to head up one assessment consortium of the two, says enough for me ... and NO Thanks.

Melissa Westbrook said...

5,000, I have no idea what you are talking about. What was personal in what I posted? I'm talking about the SCPTSA in general and not a person.

Curious, I received it in an e-mail and it has not yet been posted to the SCPTSA website.

Melissa Westbrook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...

She or he is not talking about you Melissa, she's talking about Dora calling out Ramona and Heidi.

Anonymous said...

not to mention the regular whipping boys: Gates and Broad. The song is pretty tired.

Another Parent

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle citizen said...

The "regular whipping boys" are not boys, but massive foundations that believe they have the answers and use their huge pots of money and influence in the (mainly) business community (politics IS econonics, for the most part) to insert THEIR agendas into OUR public schools. These poor little "whipping boys" paid, in large part, for the elections of four public board members; they pay for LEV, OSC, the Alliance, and other purportedly "community" organizations to massage the public with expensive campaigns that serve to demonize public educators, blame them for the struggles of students, and replace them with a free market system of education that has nothing to do with democratically supported local school districts.

"Whipping boys"? Gates and Broad are steering the rich, deep public education we have struggled to develop over the last forty years into an iceberg. Those with access to lifeboats (enrichment, the schools in wealthier neighborhoods that will never be TFA-staffed charter schools, and the hope that they can pay for a college education will float free of the wreck while the poor will drown in a sea of statistics and high-stakes tests that do little to prepare them for real-world thinking and action.

Anonymous said...

Be careful not to use quotation marks in an attempt to emphasize a word (the kind of thing you see in grocery store windows—Big "Sale" Today!). Underline or italicize that word instead. (The quotation marks will suggest to some people that you are using that word in a special or peculiar way and that you really mean something else—or that your sale is entirely bogus.)

The American Medical Association Manual of Style (9th ed, 1998) calls misused quotation marks like this Apologetic Quotation Marks and says:

Quotation marks used around words to give special effect or to indicate irony are usually unnecessary. When irony or special effect is intended, skillful preparation can take the place of using these quotes. Resort to apologetic quotation marks or quotation marks used to express irony only after such attempts have failed, keeping in mind that the best writing does not rely on apologetic quotation marks. (p 220)

Unless, of course, "Joe Wilhoft" is not his real name...

Anonymouse

Chris S. said...

5000feet - great to hear about other atl. routes. All the more reason not to sole-source in a big hurry.

Central Mom said...

This PTSA bulletin won't be posted publicly. PTSA does different kind of advisories, and this one is an "eNews bulletin" whose circulation is stated thusly:

"eNews Bulletins do NOT go out to all members. They are sent to PTA/PTSA leaders, school leaders and community subscribers. Please share as appropriate."

mirmac1 said...

We all know what great "writers" doctors are.

Sahila said...

I have heard PTSA leaders often say at Board members... "our members feel this", "our members voted for that"... and yet you can see below that their communication system makes sure that not all members get to know all about what's going on in the District, and that only a handful of people get to vote on important issues...

"eNews Bulletins do NOT go out to all members. They are sent to PTA/PTSA leaders, school leaders and community subscribers. Please share as appropriate."

And who decides/what are the criteria for what is "appropriate" to share - who gets and who doesnt get this information?

As others have stated in the past, PTA/PTSA has no right to claim it represents school communities...

Maureen said...

Sahila, I'm not a PTSA booster, but they are one organization that represents parents. If, at a school or District level, those parents don't choose to elect people who can be trusted to represent their views, that is another problem.

CPPS is another organization that has potential. CEASE had a voice for awhile (I don't hear them much now). Personally, I'm hoping the Alternative Schools Coalition can grow and be another voice.

SC Parent said...

If TFA can't come to SPS schools because of the way the state's certification/alt-cert requirements are written, couldn't that lend support to re-writing those requirements (i.e., loosening them under the guise of permitting TFA, but creating a loophole for charter schools)?

wseadawg said...

Maureen, you make a good point re: the PTAs, but I don't usually worry about trusting them. I usually look for people who have the time and talent for getting things done at the building level.

The PTSA, I believe, got sucked into the political process and wound up supporting the reform legislation because the same legislation that contained the Alt Cert modifications also expanded funding to preK and other laudable measures they'd fought for years for. I get that some pork-barrel stuff can't be avoided, but that doesn't make it right or defensible.

Given the loosening of the alt-cert requirements, those of us in Seattle should have seen the Trojan horses within the legislation that Dora and others were blowing the whistle on, but didn't, or couldn't be bothered to fight against it at the time.

Should the Seattle PTSA trust such power in the hands of a Board and Superintendent like ours enough to lobby for such legislation? I didn't think so then, or now.

Too late to reverse that train, as it's left the station, but I think it's less a matter of trusting our PTAs and PTSAs and more a matter of being careful about who's gun we are loading under the guise of Ed Reform, and who will wind up in the cross-hairs.

We all knew it would be the SEA and the teachers, but who needs unions, eh? Wouldn't it be better of MGJ & her devotees could just hire and fire at will?

wseadawg said...

Another Parent: The Whining Thread was last week.

Sahila said...

here's what some kids in New Mexico think about where education is taking them:

Brave New Voices 2010 - "Love Letter To Albuquerque Public Schools"

We adults should be ashamed of ourselves...

Jan said...

Thanks for the link, Sahila. At heart, at the true heart of it all, learning is an intensely individual experience. It is the enquiring mind of a student, encountering facts and experiences. With books, you add the (hopefully) great mind of a great author. In classrooms, you add the mind and philosophy of the teacher (depending on the teacher, this is either a plus, or a minus). While public education has obvious limits to the extent that it can nurture every individual mind that crosses the threshhold of a schoolhouse, the further away we get from the ideal, the more harm we do (and the less learning occurs).

seattle citizen said...

well said, Jan. That about sums it up.