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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

News Conference Tomorrow on Accountability

Update:  according to the Seattle Times, it looks like this is about a report that SPS and the City are working on a deal where the City's own watchdog in charge of ethics/whistleblower investigations would monitor SPS employee complaints and any retaliation complaints for whistleblowing.  This would only be for those cases, the district would still set its own ethics policy, determine outcomes for violations and handle complaints about job performance. 

The district would pay the City for the services but no amount has been announced and the district hopes it will be less than hiring outside investigators.   (Maybe I should ask how much the Board's own investigation cost.) 

There was one odd line in the Times article.  It was stated that Councilman Burgess is worried the scandal will hurt the Families and Education Levy.  The Times article then said:

The council will decide in the next two weeks whether to put the levy on the November ballot. Although the city would control how the money is spent, the levy would support a number of public-school programs.

That last sentence seems almost like a push against the levy (maybe I'm being sensitive).   I note that a number of the comments in all these Pottergate stories seem to want to slam the F&E levy.  My response is (1) where were these people during the Supplemental levy in Feb when some of us were trying to say that the district had issues and to send them a message and (2) the people who should feel that anger in the voting booth are School Board directors.



From SPS:

On Thursday, March 17, Seattle Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield and School Board President Steve Sundquist will announce a key initiative that will enhance accountability throughout the district.

There was nothing else with the announcement but the time (9:45 am) and the where (headquarters' auditorium). 

I will attend and report back.

32 comments:

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Let me guess, Dr. Susan Enfield and
School Board President Steve
Sundquist will admit the feckless
board has completely failed to
provide any accountability. In
doing so they encouraged MGJ to
act without any restraint. The gang
of four will resign immediately to
demonstrate in the new world Board
faith can only be restored with new
blood. LOL.

Po3 said...

Another press tour. Yawn.

seattle citizen said...

No, I think it will be MAP 2.0: All employees will spend 0.05 of their FTE taking adaptive tests provided by NWEA (funded by Gates, Broad and Walton grants). These tests will measure accountability as compared to the accountability of other educators around the nation and reported by RAT scores (Reform Accountability Term.)
Educators found to have low RAT scores will be coached by...coaches on how to take the test in ways that produce better RAT scores. Those that are not able to Reform accountably will be fired, and replaced with Reform For Accountability (RFA) "educators" supplied by Wendy Kopp (these replace teachers and classified staff); George and Laura Bush (these replace Principals and APs); and the Broad Foundation (these replace superintendents and board directors.)

BY thus replacing all staff with quality Reformers dedicated to accountability measured by infallible NWEA products, the public can thus be assured that students will then be accountable to MAP 1.0, in other words, ready for College and Life.

Word Verifier suggests that a MAP-passing student-unit be called an Ablerson

wsnorth said...

Maybe they will finally update the motto to reflect reality of the situation (in an attempt to regain public trust, of course):

"Every student on their own, nobody accountable for anything."

Anonymous said...

OK, to the 4 posters before me, you need to tell me you all are just letting off some steam, 'cause that I can understand. Tomrrow, I am going to be considering a couple of private schools' offers or SPS for my kids next fall. Right now, I need some good reasons to stick w/ SPS.

-to jump or not

JaneAddamsKindergartenMom said...

Some good reasons to stay with SPS:

The teachers and staff at the schools are some of the most committed you'll find.

The school board has woken from their slumber and finally doing something.

Your children will get to know a wider variety of kids from different backgrounds.

It takes parents like us to believe in public education and INVEST in our schools to make them better.

Public schools are part of a true democracy - and we should do our best to help all children in our communities.

You're already paying for school once - why pay again? And if you have limited resources, I've heard from many parents that it's best to save the option to use those resources in middle school.

seattle citizen said...

to jump or not -
Speaking for myself, I'm blowing off steam, but with a certain amount of "wait and see."

Don't jump yet. Don't believe the hype: SPS schools have many, many good educators (and don't believe the lies that it's all about teachers - schools also have great classified staff who do all kinds of things to help students. Counselors, mental health specialists, library assistants, IAs for SpEd and ELL and other tasks, custodians, security, lunchroom...)
These educators, for the most part, keep doing what's best for students. They always have and they always will.
Some don't: If admin could freed up from doing "Reform" it could spend more time evaluating staff and supporting them or helping them move on.

The "wait and see" for me comes from the transtion: SPS administration, like the nation, has been under the thrall of the "Reform" movement and has made some bad choices. These have impacted classrooms. I am waiting to see what happens now, if admin and the board has recieved the message from its educators in the schools, from parents and guardians, from students. The message is that educators want to address the individual needs of individual students. They (mostly) have done this (contrary to the "Waiting for Superman" propaganda put out by Gates/Broad/Walton/Duncan). The ability to continue to do this depends on whether "Reform" agendas are continued, whether the district listens to its REAL community instead of the astro-turf communities propped up by Gates/Broad/et al. If the Reform trend contines, yes, you should jump. I hate to say it, because I am vehemently pro-public school, and would like to stick with them through thick and thin (they ARE the foundational idea of our democracy) but...

If the district starts actually collaborating with its citizens, as we have seen evidence they might, then there is great hope. The community can collaborate to continue to support individual students (instead of groups of HSPE scores) and the "reformers" have done us a favor of at least pointing out that change is good, that there are endemic problems in society that need addressing in the schools, that, if we work as communities, we can effect positive change. The changes THEY propose are hogwash: THEY have motives that are not pure. The stink of the idea that schools are businesses is wretched. But change IS good: How do schools address new technologies? What about increasing poverty? How do they address the increasingly nuanced special ed needs? The rising ELL population? Change.

So wait a year or so before you jump. If you support your students, they will be okay, and they will have the glorious opportunity to attend a school with a huge variety of kids, just like the real world. They'll have some hard times, some educators who aren't as good as others, some "programs" or "initiatives" that are driven by expediency, greed, laziness or ineffectiveness...but for the most part, for 90% of their experience, they will get a good education.

There will always be problems, just as there will always be people without money or resoures. Not to conflate the two, but to show that nothing will ever be perfect. But public schools are damn close to perfect, in the grand scheme of things: Democracy at its best, educating its future citizens. I think this city, and this country, do a damn fine job if it, all things considered.

So wait and see if the reformers are chased away, then make your decision.

Observer said...

The 9:45 news conference may be to announce that SPS is turning over some if its watchdog responsibilities to the city. Check out the newly posted article to the online Seattle Time as of midnight:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2014517731_schoolethics17m.html

dan dempsey said...

In an attempt to increase accountability Susan Enfield will explain that she violated State Law RCW 28A 645.020 on at least two occasions, pushed the NTN contract with flawed data, produced a bogus action report from a forged document, submitted the forged document instead of the original, and will resign and throw herself on the mercy of the court.

The rest of the story with videos.

Steve Sundquist will be delivering re-election campaign speeches and explaining that all those MGJ proposals that he voted for were great. How unfortunate that MGJ had to leave.........

Steve is unable to read the MGJ contract and connect all MGJ's fireable actions and offenses... with firing MGJ with cause......

Charlie Mas said...

to jump or not,

You should stay with Seattle Public Schools because - far and away - the bulk of your child's educational experience will be determined by the community at your school, not by the bozos in the JSCEE. You should stay with Seattle Public Schools because nearly all of the school communities are healthy and effective. You should stay with Seattle Public Schools because even the bozos in the JSCEE have good intentions and, despite what you may read here, do most of their jobs right.

cascade said...

Sundquist needs to be voted out this fall, period. Instead of "fixing" things now he could have simply pulled his head out of his, um, shamrock, and listened to the community and teachers for the past 3 years.

Ditto Maier and Martin-Morris and Carr (all of whom are quiet, verrrrrry quiet these past two weeks.)

Another JA Parent said...

To jump or not -
The district has major problems which are infuriating, but our child's school is excellent. That disconnect between downtown and the local school is a problem, but sometimes it's a benefit. (Maybe we should deliberately keep them distracted with big boondoggle projects that don't have anything to do with the classroom.) (Kidding.)

It really comes down to the school your child will attend, so tour and investigate your assigned school and any option schools that are practical for you. A good principal with loyal teachers and staff far outweighs all the downtown madness. A good PTA helps a lot too.

Good luck. I know it's hard.

gavroche said...

I suspect the levy is what what all the talk of "public trust" is about. I believe some political capital has been invested in promoting the levy -- McGinn, Burgess, others, are behind it. (Which may be related to positioning for mayoral runs.) Pottergate has risked scuttling the chances of it passing. So SPS and City Hall are anxious to regain "public trust" so voters will back the levy. If this theory is correct, once the levy passes (if it is introduced and does pass), we may, unfortunately hear less concern about "public trust" coming from the Powers That Be and a return to Business as Usual.

just a theory.

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cascade said...

and a good theory, gavroche. dead on, I'd say.

someone said...

Word has it that SPS's general counsel's office has been slammed with employee complaints since this all broke - perhaps this is a way to deal with some of that workload? - though I can also see where gavroche is coming from as well...

As to where were people in Feb. for supplemental levy - I think there is much more daylight on the subject, (despite the great work done by this blog and others) than ever before - it's a pretty natural reaction to question giving the district more money (however it's administered) when clearly they haven't done a great job with the existing pots -

another mom said...

Commission members and bios are here:

http://www.seattle.gov/ethics/home/bios.htm

It looks like a formidable group. Their meeting minutes are also on-line.

anonymous said...

Don't jump! My two kids have been in 5 SPS schools K-12, and they have been fantastic overall. At the school level things work, and they work well (at least at all of the schools my kids have attended).

I know at the district level things seem like a disaster, and there is definitely a lot they can improve on, but I think Charlie is right in that most people at headquarters do their jobs well most of the time (we just don't hear about it because it isn't sensational).

There are certainly things private schools can offer that publics can't. Small class size, no downtown drama, and a decent peer group.

But there are things that publics can offer that private schools just can't.

There is not a private school in Seattle that has a band that compares to the bands at Eckstein, Washington, Hamilton, Roosevelt or Garfield. Orchestras too!

There isn't a private school in Seattle that has an IB program, or a fully functioning radio station, or a marine biology academy.

There is not a private school in Seattle that gives every student that attends a laptop like STEM does!

There isn't a private elementary school in Seattle that offers full immersion like JSIS does! Or expeditionary learning like Thornton Creek does! Or one that specializes in environmental science like JA K-8 does!

There isn't a private school in Seattle that provides yellow bus service and metro passes! Or free breakfast and lunch for those who need it.

And there isn't a private school in Seattle that has the diversity that many of our public schools offer - special ed, English language learners, hundreds of different ethnic and religious backgrounds).

Public school does have a lot to offer!

dan dempsey said...

gavroche said:

"we may, unfortunately hear less concern about "public trust" coming from the Powers That Be and a return to Business as Usual."

Right now we are hearing largely business as usual with slightly better accounting... Enfield as "Supe" was opposed by Betty Patu (the only sane vote in 6-1). Betty voted no because she wanted a break from MGJ-Enfield direction. Six Board members don't see the need.

Business as usual continues..... Rickie Malone had it right.... "To improve Public Trust.... some Board Members need to leave."

another mom said...

They could start by looking at the MLK sale.

Stu said...

Peon said: Public school does have a lot to offer!

Every reason given to stay with SPS is true. There are amazing schools, in many neighborhoods, and amazing princiapls and teachers, in many schools. There are dedicated PTA and other parent groups, in many regions, and your children can get, in many ways, an excellent education.

I'll play devil's advocate, for a moment, though.

There's also a lot of turmoil in the district. Educational approaches, methodology, and materials can change on, seemingly, a whim. Great principals can be moved without notice; amazing independent programs can be canceled so their space can be used to stuff more kids into larger classes; agreements between the district and individual schools can be discarded without regard to the effects on the building, regardless of how successful the program might be.

If you're in the APP program, there's no guarantee that the program will stay intact or be split into quarters; with the new assignment plan, you could be assigned to a "failing" school without recourse; that "yellow school bus or metro pass" may not apply to your child who's still too young to walk to school.

Yes, Peon, there are amazing bands and orchestras at SOME of the schools, world class ones in fact, yet that means nothing to a musical child who can't get into one of those schools. For every NE kid who might dream of playing in the Roosevelt band, there's an equally talented kid assigned to Nathan Hale. (NH has an orchestra with less than 10 kids. It will probably develop into a nice program 5 years from now but tell that to the string player that's heading over there for the next 4 years.)

Yes, there's language immersion . . but only in certain assignment schools so that it's not available to everyone.

Yes, there are free laptops . . .at a single school. What happens when funding runs out in three years? Is there any guarantee it'll continue that way?

As far as all the other things Peon listed? It's true that all of those things are available in the Seattle Public Schools. Trouble is, they're each only available to a select group of people.

Depending on your resources, private schools can be an excellent option. Most offer language every day, music every day, science and art and sports and real math every day. And, while many of us, myself included, can criticize some private schools for selectivity and price, it's hard to argue that most offer a top-notch education which is something that isn't available to every SPS student in every neighborhood.

Until the time comes that every school can offer every student a quality education, and the district can offer some of those great music/language/science options to all the kids, private school will remain a popular choice in this city.

One other thing: people who decide to go private school route still pay the same amount of taxes towards the public schools. Many still participate in public school fundraisers and involve themselves in the process. It comes down to making the best choice for YOUR child.

stu
(still a public school parent though we've shopped around because of a lack of faith)

Kathy said...

The budget process needs to become more transparent.

Here is the budget timeline:

Individual School Budget Development
Feb 18 –March 14, 2011
Budget Adjustments Based on Legislative Action
April, 2011
Recommended Budgets: Introduction
June 15, 2011
Public Hearing on Budgets
June 16, 2011
Recommended Budgets Action
July 6, 2011

There aren't any more scheduled public budget workshops.

The budget will be introduced on June 15th. Public hearings are the next day.

I really think there needs to be more public budget workshops, and more time between release of budget and public hearings.

This, would help increase transparency.

I'd also like to see a forensic audit of the entire district. In addition to the audit, this might shake up some bureaucratic sense of entitlement.

dan dempsey said...

The true victory for the "New Student Assignment Plan" will be when "local schools" are free from "Downtown Directing". That OKI model of neighborhood schools with a neighborhood board of trustees is looking better all the time..... especially for Rainier Beach High School.... for that matter any place stuff with Downtown Math ideas etc. etc. etc.

The folks downtown who do the work would do much better with "competent upper administrative management" and a "real Board of Directors".

Unknown said...

For those interested in supporting our public schools, our City Council members vote on how to proceed with the Families and Education Levy renewal on Monday. That will determine what, if anything, gets put before voters this fall. An advisory committee has presented three different options to the council members, and recommends the third option - roughly $234M - as the only way to meet the goals presented by City Council. Please call or email the Seattle City Council members to voice your support of "option 3" for the Families and Education Levy!

Stu said...

Please call or email the Seattle City Council members to voice your support of "option 3" for the Families and Education Levy!


Boy, I gotta be honest and say that I'm not sure I can support any levy at this time. We keep throwing more and more money into the district but I've yet to see the accountability, or direction, that I desire. We vote for levy after levy and the money doesn't seem to always go where it's supposed to; I don't trust the administration to make intelligent fiscal decisions, and we're almost at the breaking point financially and shudder at the thought of even more taxes.

How 'bout a special lottery just for education? Or just a "general fund donation" drive . . .something other than taxing homeowners?

Unless this levy specifies where every single dollar is going, and until the district stops the "business as usual" approach to maintenance and operational expenses, I don't know that they have my vote.

stu

seattle citizen said...

Stu, I would echo what others have pointed out: The city's family levy is the city's, not the district's. It's different from the levies, for instance, of a few months ago, which were district.

Melissa believes that the city has better accounting and accountabily. I believe her on this.

Certainly, some of the money is used IN schools, to help struggling students, but it is city-managed. It is not thrown away. It helps the families and kids who need it most.

seattle citizen said...

and Stu, I just noticed your "how about a special lottery for education," which cracks me up/makes me sad because the lottery, when first instituted, WAS to benefit education. Of course now all the money is just put into the state's general fund...

WV has colic. Is colic?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Stu, I will ask you to reconsider if your only reason is to not put more money into schools.

The district won't decide where the money goes (they've tried to get that control in the past and the City said no way). The district has no hand in the money. And when programs don't work, the City pulls the plug (to the unhappiness of a couple of community groups that didn't realize they were expected to show positive outcomes).

Losing this levy would mean losing:

- all 10 health centers at the 10 comprehensive high schools which are accessible to every single student in the school

- the 4 health centers at high-need middle schools

- no summer school (another thread but Enfield announced there would be no summer school this year either)

- no direct interventions as have shown success in Everett and Tukwila with drop-outs

-hundreds of kids won't get early childhood education

-education outreach for immigrant families

-tutoring and after-school activities at the middle schools.

And more.

(I have pointed out that we have a large property tax bill primarily because of levies/bonds and for the poor, disabled, elderly or just struggling, it's a lot to pay and I get it. Of course, vote with your wallet but if you feel you can do it otherwise, please consider voting for this levy.)

Jet City mom said...

to jump or not- it really depends on what your kids needs are and what your choices are.
If they have already been accepted at private schools I expect something major has been lacking in their experience or has the administration of the district been the prime motivator toward private?

I have two kids- both twice gifted ( gifted with " special needs".)

One went private K-12.
ONe was mostly public & despite being successful at a good high school & taking 4 Ap classes- she is struggling mightily in college.
Even before she began college I have said that I wish I had kept her private.
Watching her this year- I still say it.
YMMV

wsnorth said...

- to jump or not

So much of it is local. Look at your assigned schools. At this point, they probably won't get any worse.

We love our local elementary, and our Middle School has been a great experience for some of our kids, but the district has just been destroying the elementary school with overcrowding, and starving the award winning middle school of funds.

Think Location, Location, Location.

wsnorth said...

And on the levy, I have seriously "never met a tax I didn't vote for" (maybe one) but it is a little arrogant to DOUBLE the levy amount in economic times like this.

Did I read that right, it is DOUBLE the previous amount? It this kind of hubris that drives people to Tea!

I'll probably still vote for the dumb thing, but that is pushing the limits!

Maureen said...

jumper, if you aren't happy with your neighborhood school, I would encourage you to look at the Option Schools. Our kids have had great educations in our Option K-8 and neighborhood High School. We have saved tens of thousands of dollars and (I think) enriched their cultural lives by keeping them public.