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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Fun Times at the Board Meeting - Part 1

I'll let Dorothy and Charlie chime in here but last night was reasonably entertaining (mostly because of Dorothy and Charlie who were sharp and very funny).    It was a lean crowd, mostly of die-hard activists.  (You can always tell when it's summer.)  This was the last meeting until August 17th.   Director DeBell was not in attendance. 

I am nearly on my way out the door to go to Tumwater (!) to testify against the UW proposal for Teach for America so this thread may come in two parts.

What helped considerably was a shortened meeting - no academic, operational or financial updates.  

Highlights:
  • It was brought up several times that information was not in the Action reports to the Board about various issues.  How the Board stands by and allows that to happen is a mystery.  For example, there was a vote on computers for 10 schools and the schools weren't listed nor did staff come prepared with the list.  There were two of them standing at the podium, ready to answer Board questions on this action and yet...they couldn't name the schools.
  • Teacher Robert Femiano apparently had nothing better to do than read the entire 300+ page budget book and called out a few items.  He questioned money listed for instruction materials ($1.7M) and math supplies (.5M) and yet the district said it isn't buying textbooks.  He wondered aloud what the money would be spent on in the classroom.   He also asked the Board to reject the TFA proposal (it was introduced, not voted on) because of a study out of Boulder that showed large recurring costs using TFA.
  • SEA President Olga Addae, fresh off the plane from the Chicago convention for the NEA, let the Board know that their delegation had put forth (and it passed) a resolution against districts allowing TFA in if their district had no teacher shortages.  She said that states that have TFA spoke eloquently to the issues and problems around having TFA recruits in their classrooms.  She said the silent cost to Seattle would be in the STAR mentoring program which all first-year teachers receive.  She said that TFA recruits have so little training and experience that they will need even more attention and hand-holding.  She said it would be sad to spend the money mentoring them and then have the majority of them not end up being teachers.
  • Dan Dempsey pointed out another obvious issue with the TFA action report.  He stated that the October 2010 Action report said that they could go with TFA "after careful review of other options."  No review was included in last night's action report. 

To be continued...

26 comments:

dan dempsey said...

That careful review of other options.... is required by the WAC the SPS are supposedly following to seek the conditional certification of TfA teachers.

Rita Green pointed out how a math teacher at RBHS is being released after one year of teaching. She felt that teacher was doing a very good job and was committed to RBHS students for the long haul.

Note the District has in some magical way cleared out every math and special ed teacher at RBHS .... strange how now that TfA is apparently on the way in .... there are ZERO returning teachers in those tow areas. ..... So who will be doing the hand holding of any TfA Special Ed teachers as required by the WAC.... OH well ... it is just the law .. and the SPS does its own thing without regard for policy or the law.

Bob Murphy testified that for most teachers in an urban school setting it takes two years to become much more effective. Bob has just completed his fifth year in teaching at Franklin HS.

Charlie Mas said...

Hiring decisions will be site-based. Rainier Beach High School has a brand-new principal. There is reason to believe that this person was not the superintendent's first choice for the position. That might mean that there is reason to believe that this person has not yet been subjected to pressure to hire Teach for America corps members.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't go to board meetings very much any more. I mostly watch them on TV from home.

When I do go, I have a bad habit of maintaining a sort of running commentary in the style of MST3K. I try not to sit next to folks who don't want to hear it.

Anonymous said...

Anynybody know what the potential litgation exec session was about?

Curious

MathTeacher42 said...

All the time spent tilting at yet another creaking, decrepit, wobbly windmill.

I forgot to point out that since most education "research" is not scientifically valid, (what is the correct phrasing, all you stats geeks?) hence it is basically anecdote, don't my anecdotes count as much as anyone's?

it is a tale
Told by an idiot,
full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

R. Murphy

dan dempsey said...

Mr. Murphy - excellent point about the validity of most ed research.

At the PESB meeting today the UW presenters were full of visions and anecdotes and supposed "Ed" research which they believe supports the TfA proposal that the UW wishes to have happen.

The longer I listened to this complete BS today, the more I realized educational (non-teaching k-12) career advancement is about packing your resume with great accomplishments like implementing TfA.

The sad part is that students get screwed in the process. Check the data for TfA in any school system with an abundant supply of highly qualified teachers. To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.

Guess we will now get to see if the PESB is any better at following laws and intelligently applying data than the pathetic Seattle School System central office administrators and their rubber-stamping board..

I will next post my short synopsis of the PESB meeting on TfA. (I also posted it under TfA)

ArchStanton said...

I have a bad habit of maintaining a sort of running commentary in the style of MST3K.

I just introduced my 9yo to MST3K (she thought the concept was hilarious and was laughing even when he didn't get the references). I'd pay to see you and MW silhouetted over a board meeting offering a running commentary - at least for one episode. It would probably be pretty informative.

dan dempsey said...

Oh no... my PESB meeting synopsis was eaten by blogger... I will need to reconstruct it.

Here is what I submitted to the PESB.
#1 Letter to PESB or as .doc file

#2 MY SPS TfA testimony from last night
or as .doc file

dan dempsey said...

Arch .. great idea... you may have something

Maybe Charlie and Mel could watch from home and broadcast commentary via Skype or something similar.

Then Seattleites could watch the meeting live on TV and have the Skype commentary on the computer.

As if watching these SPS Board meetings was not humorous enough ... once one gets over being horrified.

dan dempsey said...

Hey folks just called Oakville High School which is well off the beaten path and normally receives fewer applicants than most districts. I called because Oakville had advertised a math position and a science position.

They have 25 math applicants and 15 Science applicants that are NCLB High Qualified and fully certificated.

Originally the Math position was advertised as a Math /Science position... they had 5 applicants that were high qualified in both math and science.

As SEA VP -- J. Knapp has said "Conditional Certification" is used to get people with special skills from trades into school positions. Example - Auto Mechanics - to tech auto.

The Seattle School District is attempting to fraudulently circumvent the law in its attempt to get conditional certificates for TfA.

The SPS is in essence declaring that it has "carefully reviewed of all other options" to close the achievement gap ... and finds that TfA is needed to close the achievement gap in low income schools.

What an incredible claim. How do any of these people keep a straight face?

Carr, Sundquist, Maier, and Martin-Morris should be bounced in the Novemeber election if they are not bounced in the August election.

Reelect no board members in 2011.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
StopTFA said...

Okay, you thought the School Board were rubberstampers? Here is a PESB Board that asked thoughtful probing questions (that the UW folks tried to answer with alot of blah blah jargon blah and, uh, we trying to design that part of the program still...), then while expressing misgivings and a "gut feel" that it was wrong, unanimously approved U-ACT. "Well, we have no choice as long as they filled out all the boxes on the application..." Why are they even there then? If not to carry out their mission to improve the quality of teacher preparation, set standards candidates must meet, and ensure the equity provision of experienced quality teachers in high poverty/high minority schools was satisfied?! Yes, they actually have a mission but you couldn't tell from today. It was as if they underwent conditioning and reflexively spit out the approval pellet once the lab rat pressed the button.

Anonymous said...

Yes, with curious - what is the potential litigation about?

Also curious

Anonymous said...

Am reposting this from Anonymous who obviously did not read the "Leave Your Comment" box. I feel it's pretty important to get out there.

In reviewing potential candidates for teaching positions the TFA applicants to date do not seem to have any or very little teachiing experience. None have made it through to be recommended for hire at this time.

The interviewing committee for Rainier Beach High School is committed to assuring we recommend the applicants that are most qualified for the position. I believe this is what one would do in any situation.


SolvayGirl

StopTFA said...

Thank you conscientious RBHS parent/hiring team member. That is precisely true. It will be interesting to see to what extent SPS administrators will try to force one of these inferior neophytes down parents/principals throats.

Thank gawd my middle-schooler isn't a dissembler like the UW, SPS admin, and board members. Oh, TFA has to compete with everyone else. Oh, we'll only ask for conditional certs if "circumstances warrant." Oh, Oh, we only want to "deepen the hiring pool." Is any of this to be believed?!

Where does the WAC say deepening the hiring pool is legitimate circumstance to introduce out-of-field "teachers" in our most vulnerable schools?! Schools deemed under NCLB to merit special protection from inexperienced out-of-field teachers?! Frankly, this is a civil rights issue and merits an OCR complaint.

Families, if your child attends a school that gets railroaded into hiring these twerps, email me at stoptfaseattle@gmail.com.

dan dempsey said...

STOP TfA thanks for the report.

"Well, we have no choice as long as they filled out all the boxes on the application..."

Holy Crap. I thought the PESB's obligation was to follow state law. (Shows how little I know.)

This "Following of State Law" is not something many Boards see as an obligation. This was an easy call for the PESB, if any of them cared to read the WAC that supposedly governed today's action.

Gee I guess since the PESB vote to approve TfA was unanimous, the PESB members are even more clueless than the Seattle School Board. SPS Board voted with only 6 in favor back in November (I think).

To anyone wondering about an appeal of TfA ... the Court System is not doing any better in requiring Boards to follow state laws.

"The FIX is IN" -- if you don't like it, reelect no one.

Nice to know that the PESB is all in favor of experimenting on students in schools with a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students.

What the hell, is this board supposed to be doing?

I believe that most (if not all) of these folks were appointed. Is that correct? Who appointed them?

I did not see Mr. Dorn there. Was he there? How did he vote? or is he a non-voting member?

--------
PESB members:

Bruce Becker is a Technology Integration Specialist in the Lake Washington School District.

Lori Blanchard is Chair of the Montesano School Board.

June Canty is a Professor and Director of Education Programs at Washington State University, Vancouver.

Randy Dorn is the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Colleen Fairchild is a Third Grade Teacher in the North Kitsap School District.

Andrea Gamboa is a Social Studies Teacher and Department Co-Chair in the Tukwila School District.

Molly Hamaker-Teals is a Math Teacher/Math Coach in the Kennewick School District.

Myra Johnson is a School Counselor in the Clover Park School District.

Gil Mendoza is Superintendent of the Sumner School District.

Nancy Smith is a Literacy Coach in the Bellingham School District.

Barbara Taylor is an Integrated Science and Biology Teacher in the Othello School District.

dan dempsey said...

"Oh, Oh, we only want to "deepen the hiring pool." Is any of this to be believed?!"

As far as Math and Science go, if the District wished to deepen the hiring pool, it would advertise and hire in April, May, and June.

It is now July 7th and 36 teaching jobs are posted on the District website and the number of full-time math and science jobs at the high school level is zero.

There is one 0.4 FTE Math Job at Franklin advertised (TfA only accepts full-time jobs.)

Clearly the SPS is interested in narrowing the field of candidates not broadening it.

OH How many ways can you lie to us? Count the ways. Reelect no one.

dan dempsey said...

Harium Martin-Morris showed up at the PESB asking the PESB board to approve TfA to broaden the hiring pool.

The SEA was absent.

Of course there were lots of testimonies that went something like this:

Hi I'm __ __ for the non-profit {[(as a paid representative of the Oligarchs for our AstroTurf)]} *** organization. We realize that the school reform movement is drastically needed, so we want to see TfA approved.

Anonymous said...

dan dempsey said...

Harium Martin-Morris showed up at the PESB asking the PESB board to approve TfA to broaden the hiring pool.


Why would Harium go through the trouble of going all the way to Olympia to speak in support of TFA?

Does he truly believe TFA adds value to the already crowded SPS teaching hiring pool?

Have any of his constituents demanded inexperienced recent grads with only 5 weeks of training to teach their kids?

Or is he doing someone a favor?

It just doesn't add up.

--Sue P.

Cap'n Billy Keg said...

ArchStanton - most excellent idea...! It could be called: "Mystery School Board Theater 2000" or...?

uxolo said...

"Why would Harium go through the trouble of going all the way to Olympia to speak in support of TFA?"

There's money to be made when you join these companies. Maybe they pay him as a consultant? How would we know?

Dorothy Neville said...

Harium? Well, his wife does research on educational practices at UW. Hmmmm. Plus, what's the likelihood that any of the schools in Harium's district would get TfA? Sandpoint perhaps, but that's a stretch. And how likely is it that he will win reelection? Least likely of all the incumbents, given the endorsements so far. So he has the least to lose of the board members by testifying in favor of TfA.

Charlie Mas said...

I have heard it said that Director Martin-Morris really enjoys recognition on a national level - attending national conferences of school board directors and education summits and such. Maybe this was an effort to build his C.V. and make connections with the Education Reform organizations that could underwrite the expenses for these trips and conferences.

StopTFA said...

Re-elected? BwaaHaaHaa. He would pierce the students of high poverty/high minority schools with arrows from his quiver. Does he think Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was misguided? Or that the authors of NCLB didn't really mean to ensure equity for high poverty/high minority schools? Is he the Clarence Thomas of our School Board?

dan dempsey said...

About Harium M-M:

Look at his voting record. It is really clear that he is an "Ed Reform Backer" and to hell with the evidence.

His votes have frequently, like the votes of others elected in 2007 (the $500,000 four), been damaging to students. His testimony before the PESB again lined him up with LEV and other AstroTurf groups.

I see his biggest con job as his vote approving the $800,000 NTN contract for Cleveland. Remember his story about how NT Hillsdale in Durham NC was doing a great job. When I looked up the results at NT Hillsdale, that school exhibited the same pathetic performance as nearly every other NTN school. We continually have received "feeble" anecdotes instead of relevant data from the 2007 Directors whenever each attempted to explain their votes.

To recap on Feb 3, 2010 Harium failed to read the contract in approving NTN ... the vote was 4-2 (DeBell absent).... A new SB Action Report was released on 3-12-2010 ... Haruim voted to approve that one in April 2010 without any explanation of his vote. Guess he did not wish to tell the same "feeble" story twice.

Sundquist, Maier, and Carr also offered no further explanation in April 2010. The final vote was 4-3 approving NTN.

NTN was a key element in the New Student Assignment Plan..... NSAP was to make every school a quality school by using NSAP transportation savings at yet to be selected low performing schools to raise their quality. It started by diverting carry over funds from 30+ low income schools to Cleveland.

There are lots of jobs for folks who sing the "Ed Reform" tune. Harium has certainly sung loud enough and long enough to get one. Seems Arne Duncan should appoint him to some position, if the Gates foundation does not create an AstroTurf organization for him to head.

Mary Jean Ryan, the current State Board of Education chairperson, got her very own AstroTurf organization and a $100,000 salary ..... surely Harium deserves the same for his continued loyalty to the "Gates" reform plans.

I am remembering when Harium announced the end of his blog. A new work assignment at Boeing would be cutting into his time ... so he would be unable to continue blogging. Perhaps early retirement from Boeing and a $100,000 AstroTurf job would allow him to continue his "dedication to schools".

dan dempsey said...

Olga Addae, fresh off the plane from the Chicago convention for the NEA, let the Board know that their delegation had put forth (and it passed) a resolution against districts allowing TFA in if their district had no teacher shortages. She said that states that have TFA spoke eloquently to the issues and problems around having TFA recruits in their classrooms. She said the silent cost to Seattle would be in the STAR mentoring program which all first-year teachers receive. She said that TFA recruits have so little training and experience that they will need even more attention and hand-holding. She said it would be sad to spend the money mentoring them and then have the majority of them not end up being teachers.

File this one under the category of the SEA assisting NEA passing resolutions that are meaningless to SEA members as the SEA has no long term coordinated plans.

Does anyone other than me find the following strange?

#1 SEA members pay in excess of $70 per month

#2 SEA President Olga Addae, fresh off the plane from the Chicago convention for the NEA, let the Board know that their delegation had put forth (and it passed) a resolution against districts allowing TFA in if their district had no teacher shortages.

#3 The SEA sent "Zero" representatives to testify at the PESB board meeting on TfA.

------
This looks a lot like an incomplete attempt by SEA leadership to oppose "TfA".

Needless to say the WEA failed to make an appearance at the PESB but LEV was there in support of TfA.

Both the SEA and WEA backed 6696 in legislature 2010 and continued to back adoption of the Common Core State Standards in legislature 2011. It seems a little late to be concerned about TfA, if in fact leadership really is concerned.

The adoption of the Common Core State Standards will require local school districts to fund about $165 million out of local school district funding over the next five years. That amount of money is equivalent to the full salaries and benefits of around 330 full time teachers over the next 5 years.

{I did this calculation simply by reading the Document on CCSSI implementaion costs that Randy Dorn submitted to the legislature 30 days late (Jan 31, 2011). It seems the WEA is unable or disinterested in such calculations.}

Yet the WEA and SEA never had any opposition to this plan plan to divert funds from local districts into more administrative overhead. Pearson testing is expected to be a major beneficiary of the State Standards movement. The CCSSI began as a project hidden from public view and funded by the GATES Foundation .. no suprise there.

After Wendy Kimball served two ineffective terms as SEA president, she was rewarded with a cushy job at the JSCEE directing the district's program dealing with the National Board Certification of teachers. Olga Addae is now in her second term as WEA president ... What job will she be rewarded with? There is a two term limit for SEA President.