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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Seattle School Board Meeting 6/1/22

Not a big crowd for the School Board meeting last week but traffic was lousy and it's the end of the school year.

Public testimony 
  • a couple of students from Interagency spoke in support of their school and how got them back on track to graduate from high school.
  • Eddie Rye, one of the vendors from the Small Business Works scandal, spoke in support of the Ethics partnership with the City and said the Board should be investigated for not having spoken up sooner.  He said they owed other governmental agencies who worked with the Small Business Works an apology for not keeping watch over a program within SPS.  He asked what the School Board members knew and when they knew it.  He said MGJ was gone but the issue wasn't dead and he felt that his name had been hurt by the investigation.  I briefly spoke with Mr. Rye about talking over these issues.  
  • Chris Jackins, the long-time district watchdog, had some interesting comments.  One was about the new Whistleblower policy that apparently may allow district officials to be in charge of the complaints.  I'm a little confused as I thought the City might let the district know of complaints but would decide what would be investigated.  He also pointed out that Hale High school wants to put commercial advertising on its readerboard but that it is prohibited by Board policy.  (I hadn't heard about this so I'll have to ask what it's about.  I suspect Hale is just trying to make some money but it is true that direct advertising is not allowed on district property.)
  • There were a couple of speakers talking about the tobacco-free environment policy being voted on that night.  I didn't know but there is a Teens Against Tobacco Use group in the district and they worried about lack of a policy on smokeless tobacco and tobacco strips (I think the new policy does address the former and I had never heard of the latter.)  Another speaker was from King County and said there is even "spit-free smokeless tobacco" which she called an oxymoron.  She also showed the Board container for these items and how they looked like candy containers and have candy flavors like sour apple. One, for e-cigarettes even said "good for health." 
  • Dan Dempsey again pointed out the intervention gaps in the district.
  • There were two speakers (both Garfield parent leaders) commenting on the overcrowding issues at Garfield.  The first, David Foutch, was quite calm and said that while Garfield usually takes a couple of weeks at the beginning of the year to get organized, that it does all seem to fall into place.  His point, though, was why does this happen every year?  Why does it seem Garfield needs a couple of weeks before they have enough teachers, classes, etc.?  Why indeed?
  • Rita Green, a parent leader from Rainier Beach High, put up a good alert to the Board about how the search for their new principal is going.  Apparently the parents feel the process has been compromised.  She laid out how the process is supposed to have all the same people and the same questions.  This is not happening according to her.  She said they had different people at two different rounds, and that they were told they had to put forth 4 candidates instead of the just the 2 they felt they could support.  This does not bode well if the parents already don't trust the process.
  • Carol Simmons, a long-time educator and activist in the district, spoke up on the issue of community collaboration and noted that no Board member (or the Superintendent) had attended the Mt. Zion racism conference.  She felt that when Ingraham had issues, the district gets them addressed but the south end doesn't get the same kind of attention.  She asked for a specific plan to close the achievement gap.
  • There were several charming and articulate speakers from Nova.  One issue is that the district only counts students who graduate in 4 years in their data.  (This does seem odd.)  Nova has a number of 5 year graduates, one of whom was one of the speakers.  He explained that his single mother had lung cancer and he had to drop out to support his family.  That seems like a plenty good reason to give Nova a break on graduation data.  (One student said, "We know we can't stay at Nova until we're thirty."  Priceless.)  Another Nova issue is that they don't get funded like a comprehensive and now they have to choose between a librarian and a teacher.  He said the library is the one place where SBOC and Nova students meet regularly.  (I can't believe the district can't fund a librarian for two schools sharing a building.)  Another asked to go back to Nova students and staff raising their own food and cooking it. 
  • Sue Peters, a Lowell parent and fellow blogger, spoke about the overcrowding at Lowell.  (I heard from another parent and this is pretty serious as it is not just getting crowded but encroaching on space used for the fragile Special Ed students there.)  She said she felt there should be a short-term freeze on enrollment at Lowell and that it should be a two-program school, not three.  But, she emphasized as every single APP parent I have ever heard say, that the Special Ed program should NOT be moved because of the specialty of the program.  She said there should be a true northend APP program.  She also pointed out something I have mentioned before - there are schools in our district with NO fire sprinklers and Lowell is one of them.  She also mentioned getting a third principal/administrator and said with all the children they have, they need a counselor more.
  • Michele McCauley, a parent at Ingraham, talked about how their issue may be a hint of what is to come for teachers across the district from possibly heavy-handed and retaliatory processes.  She claims that 10-15% of their staff has or will be resigning.  She said people who speak out are getting targeted. 
  • Tom Wood, a Franklin alum, came to express dismay over the long delay in fixing Franklin's readerboard.  They stared with this in 2008(!) raising $59k for the same footprint for the readerboard.  It was supposed to be done by now and isn't .  He said the City was responsive but not the district.  He said it was upsetting to the community to have this non-functioning readerboard sit there blankly for years.   
The Superintendent's Comments were not long.  She had some recognitions among them the National Geography team from Roosevelt won first in the nation, Hale's radio station (mighty KNHC) received a state award and that Lowell's math teams did very well in a recent competition (both grade level teams and individuals). 

Once again, no Operations update.

Then there was a math update from Miss de la Fuentes who, to her credit, was fairly honest about the lack of movement in the MAP math numbers.  She said the highest growth was in elementary.  She called it an "education gap" that white/Asians growth exceeds other minority groups' growth.  She did say the ELL growth rate was good.

She mentioned that there would be a summer institute for elementary teachers.  She said 300 had signed up and there was a waitlist of 60 teachers. She also said some ARRA dollars would allow teachers to watch peers teach a class.  (The term she used for this was "deprivatizing practice.")

She also said that in terms of African-American students, that even if they pull out ELL and Special Ed student scores, those students are not doing well.  She said they were going to structure learning plans around 3 struggling students.  She said they would tell teachers to pick three struggling students in their classes and structure the lessons around them.  (This seems somewhat odd to me as I don't know how it addresses the needs of all students.  Teachers?  Help me out.)

Sherry Carr asked why all the teachers who wanted to to to the summer institute couldn't be accommodated.  It's about resources.  Kay asked about any summer catch-up but Miss de la Fuente restated that there would be no summer school.  Sherry also mentioned something about a group called Clear Sky tutoring and asked about a partnership there.  

The Financial update by CFO Robert Boesche was fairly brief and to the point.  With the end of the Legislative session and final notifications of the amounts of education dollars, the district will still be $4M in the hole for the budget.  So, more cuts must be made.  There is a Work Session on the budget this Wednesday, June 8th.   They do want to meet with "bargaining partners."  June 15th is the introduction of the budget and there will be a Public Hearing on June 22nd with Board action on July 6th.

(DeBell had said on KUOW that the 1% raise for teachers was part of the Supplemental levy so the 1.9% cut by the state would leave the teachers in the negative by .9%.  I wonder if the district will try to negotiate that 1% way since the state is making the cut.  DeBell also claimed on KUOW that Central Administration was at 6.2% this year and will be below 6% next year.  This I have to see documented before I'd take anyone's word.)

Board Comments


Director Martin-Morris - Harium announced that Franklin High is having a foreign language program this summer with training in 6 languages.  (Unfortunately, I don't see anything at their website so I will call for info on this program.)


Director Smith-Blum - announced a Title 2 grant for $110k with Apple to supply Ipads and Ipod Touch devices to schools who submit an application.  Jim Ratchford, our IT head, sent me more information and I'll post a thread on that separately.


Director DeBell - expressed concern over Garfield and that he had raised this issue last fall about being ready for incoming students from day one.  He said that budgets need to be updated based on enrollment data.  "Everything we know in June should be incorporated now."  Michael sounded very stern but honestly, what will he do when Garfield is busting at the seams in September?  What wrath will come down from on high?  None and staff knows it.

Director Patu - thanked Tom's shoes for the donation of shoes to Van Asselt and Emerson.  She also asked why Franklin's readerboard issue should be continuing on.  Dr. Enfield promised to get an answer from COO Pegi McEvoy.

Director Carr - said that she believes there is a funding issue for the larger high schools and it will be on the Audit and Finance Committee agenda to examine. 

18 comments:

Salander said...

"She said they were going to structure learning plans around 3 struggling students. She said they would tell teachers to pick three struggling students in their classes and structure the lessons around them. (This seems somewhat odd to me as I don't know how it addresses the needs of all students. Teachers? Help me out.)"

As a teacher I can tell you that this woman has no idea what she is talking about. This makes no sense and is counter to the policy of "alignment" in which all students across the district are meant to be taught the same skills and content on the same timeline. Just more mouth moving from someone who has no idea what teaching a class of 30+ students is about.

As for what the parent said about teachers being targeted. We heard all about Martin Floe being targeted but the dirty little secret is that this is also happening to teachers across the district.
Principals have been told to "get rid of" 2-3 senior teachers from each building. There is a wide spread practice of harassing teachers and writing bogus evaluations.
Parents can support teachers by writing spontaneous email to their child's teacher any time they appreciate what a teacher is doing.
When I receive these emails it gives me the strength to fight another day.
Of course of love my students and appreciate them every day but a kind word from another adult gives me a special kind of glow.

mirmac1 said...

Watch De la Fuente's presentation. It was more of the "look, we have (infinitesimally) small growth but if you look at this one grade, through one eye, while standing on your head, it looks like we know what we're doing. Except we don't. So we're making a wild ass guess and asking our Tier 1 teachers to pick 3 students and try and teach them. Then we'll take what the teachers find, throw it at the wall and see what sticks."

That's best practice.

Anonymous said...

Salander said: Principals have been told to "get rid of" 2-3 senior teachers from each building.

If this is true it is more than disconcerting. I just don't know what parents can do about an administration and board that sees to be more entrenched in their own little world than anyone of us have imagined.

SolvayGirl

Anonymous said...

The Differentiation District is telling teachers to structure their lessons around 3 struggling students in their class? All kids should learn in class. Most parents accept that there will be a certain amount of instructional triage. But structuring lessons around 3 struggling students is just as unacceptable as structuring the lesson around the 3 best students because "we want to create a culture of excellence."
-- annoyed mom

Anonymous said...

Consider writing Board members about the proposed attendance policy:

- No more excused absences for short family trips (surrounding districts allow for pre-approved absences and the make-up of work)

- 20 absences (even if they're excused) could result in a truancy petition

- 10 tardies (defined as missing 15 min of core instruction) could result in a truancy petition for elementary students (whether excused or unexcused)

- future changes to the policy will no longer require a Board vote (it's being changed to a "Superintendent Policy")

According to the Washington State mandatory attendance policy (RCW 28A.225), a school district may file a truancy petition alleging a violation of the law by the student, by the parent or both the parent and student when a student has seven (7) unexcused absences within a month or ten (10) unexcused absences within the school year. According to RCW 28A.225.020, an unexcused absence is counted when a student is absent the majority of the day without a parent/guardian excusing the absence.

The proposed District policy does not fit with the intent of the State law, and fails to distinguish between excused and unexcused absences for purposes of disciplinary action.

-parent

dan dempsey said...

"She said they were going to structure learning plans around 3 struggling students. She said they would tell teachers to pick three struggling students in their classes and structure the lessons around them."

So "Differentiated Instruction" that the district has pushed as the solution to most every instructional problem .... is a pile o' crap.

Guess we will all need to rest our hope on the "Voodoo Magic" of TfA to close the Achievement Gaps.

The research shows that the Superintendent, our former CAO, and Anna Maria are clueless as so what to do next. They have discarded enormous amounts of relevant data to have the Board make ridiculous decisions. Carr, Sundquist, and Maier have continually made idiotic decisions and refused to make intelligent decisions by applying the relevant data.

I will state once again there are ZERO well controlled studies that show "Differentiated Instruction" has a positive effect on achievement. This is just the current "Ed Fad" called best practice, without a shred of evidence.

It is well known what works read Hattie's "Visible Learning". What to do to produce improvement is well known throughout the world .... it is apparently just a big secret unknown in the USA.

Read this piece for the .....

Ten Myths About Education in the U.S.
and
What It Will Take to Fix Our Schools.

"Project Follow Through" clearly shows what needs to happen to narrow achievement gaps.

What would Enfield and Anna Maria have to say in response to Zig Engelmann's 1966 kindergarten video?

Looks to me that Englemann had much greater knowledge and skill about teaching children of color in 1966 that the SPS or the UW has today.

So now the Plan is to instructionally plan for three students who are struggling .... well since the Board Policy no longer requires interventions for struggling students this is the latest Ed Fad shot in the dark.

Jan said...

-parent:

So, let's see. Class time is SO holy and precious that they need the ability to commence a truancy petition if 20 days are missed (even if they are all "excused"). How does that work for Garfield freshmen who may again spend a portion of the first two weeks sitting in the gym or the cafeteria, because there are no classes for them while the District scrambles? They are no less "absent" from school than if they were at the dentist, or home sick. How is it that missed time is so important when it is the student or his family who has a conflict -- and yet so unimportant when it is the school that fails to get its act together?

The policy is rotten (and hypocritical) at the core.

Jan said...

It also totally depends on why a student is struggling. ADD issues will require very different "lesson plans" than language disabilities, or anxiety problems. This is beyond silly and, as Salander notes, makes no sense.

Eric B said...

Mirmac, De la Fuente did say repeatedly that the pass rates, while showing growth, were nothing to be excited about. I don't like the 3 student statement, but she definitely did not say that students were doing great. She was also quite happy to point out the difficulties of knowing anything concrete because of small sample sizes in their data.

Anonymous said...

If you watch the video of the Board meeting, you will see the directive is to "focus on three specific African American students and their learning needs."

According to A-M, when the data was disaggregated (broke out ELL and FRL), there was still an achievement gap betweeen White/Asian students and African American students.

just clarifying

mirmac1 said...

Yes Eric, I was using poetic license to describe the 1) cherry-picked data; and 2) the lack of any clue why things are what they are.

And yes, it is true that the inane advice was to pick three african-american students and try something, Anything!, to help. Why is this inane? Because it is so arbitrary (3! what if there's only two AA students in the class, will another race do?), and so without structure (won't the sample size be even smaller now?!)

I urge others to watch the video. It's a crack up when board members thank her profusely for yet so little information. DeBelle is practically wagging his tail.

WenD said...

@ mirmac1:
"Why is this inane? Because it is so arbitrary (3! what if there's only two AA students in the class, will another race do?), and so without structure (won't the sample size be even smaller now?!)

I urge others to watch the video. It's a crack up when board members thank her profusely for yet so little information. DeBelle is practically wagging his tail."

Good grief. Is there a precedent for this method? This is just plain weird. Does del la Fuente have classroom experience with this random method? Your description of DeBell's reaction is priceless, especially given his history. In 2009, he wasn't impressed with Anna-Maria's recommendations:

www.seattlepi.com/default/article/Controversial-math-textbooks-adopted-by-Seattle-1303775.php

"I believe that the Discovering texts have (a) sufficiently broad approach to allow a range of teaching," said board Director Peter Maier, who voted for the adoption."

"Board President Michael DeBell previously said he was not satisfied with the Discovering textbooks because they can't be used as well as other options as reference materials at home. He voted against the math committee's recommendation."

Anonymous said...

"focus on three specific African American students and their learning needs."

This has already been in place for several years. Teachers are told to pick out students for special attention and the teachers are monitored and evaluated according to the kids' progress.

1 - If not enough African American kids are available, the teacher was allowed to choose kids with "Hispanic" sounding last names (yes, this is really true).

2 - This also means kids who really need help immigrants, Asians, Africans, etc. are ignored because they don't fit the criteria.

Under these rules Barak Obama would never receive extra help because he's mixed race.

-JC

WenD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WenD said...

@ JC:
"This has already been in place for several years. Teachers are told to pick out students for special attention and the teachers are monitored and evaluated according to the kids' progress."

Is this part of how a teacher is expected to differentiate? JC, can you please tell us who/where this policy comes from? Given that we still have an achievement and opportunity gap, it doesn't look like this is type of intervention is working.

Anonymous said...

I believe that Michele McCauley is a teacher at Lowell, but I may be mistaken.

Wayne

mirmac1 said...

Michelle is a Spec Ed IA from Lowell and she is to be lauded for standing up for fair evaluation processes for her colleagues.

Anonymous said...

"Michelle is a Spec Ed IA from Lowell and she is to be lauded for standing up for fair evaluation processes for her colleagues."

I agree wholeheartedly! It couldn't have been easy.

Wayne