Fun Times at the School Board Meeting - Part 2

I was going through the public testimony when I last posted on this topic.

  • School Board challenger, Jack Whelan,  also testified about TFA.  He said that there are a lot of good reasons to do the wrong thing.  He said that deep down, the Board knows this is a solution to a problem we don't have and it is a slap in the face to SPS teachers.  
  • There were several speakers addressing the Native American program including Sarah Sense-Wilson.  She spoke of "cronyism and impropriety" within the administration of the program.  She also said Title 7 money was used improperly for a field trip to Tillicum Village.  Another speaker also said there were no minutes from meetings and no goals or milestones put forth  for this group.   This is a good example of the Board NOT listening to parents and community in the face of clear evidence that something is wrong in this program.  It has been repeatedly called out for violations by the State Auditor and yet...still problems.  
  • Two SW parents came forward with their issue about children having to split schools because of the NSAP boundaries in their area.  The father said he had gone to the meetings about the boundaries and that Steve had said the plan would honor historical pathways.  I don't know enough about those pathways to say if it does but according to this father, they don't.  He  also said that phone calls about appeals were not being answered.  He is a teacher and said if he didn't answer parents' phone calls, he would get reprimanded by the principal.  
  • Rita Green, Rainier Beach PTSA, thanked the Superintendent for selecting the #1 choice for principal that the community put forth.  But she then said she felt there was a flaw in the MAP testing and that a popular math teacher at RBHS had been exited because of them  She believes it was based on one administrator's opinion and not evidence.   (This might be clearing the way for a TFA recruit to be at RBHS since RBHS was on a list of schools for TFA recruits.)
  • Another speaker asked what recourse the Board has when its policies are not followed.  That got a snort laugh from Charlie.
  • Dorothy Neville had a great idea for issues around MAP.  Her idea is for the Board to allow members of the public to organize a Work Session presentation for the Board to explain some of the MAP concerns.  She said the presenters would get the info to staff seven days in advance to allow them to respond and there could be a good dialog that might find some common ground and solutions.   Given the expertise of people like Dorothy and Meg Diaz (and everyone out there that like to crunch numbers), it's not a bad thought.
  • Charlie then stepped up and spoke on the Advanced Learning action item.  He said they are voting to approve a grant they haven't even seen AND that the staff knows they will do it.  There was no community engagement and, in fact, if they read their own policy, they would see that APP at Ingraham violates it.  Again, what recourse does the Board have when the Superintendent violates their policies?  How are they a governance Board if not?
  • Teacher Robert Murphy got up and was very eloquent about teaching being his third career and how it took a lot of time to get up to speed as a teacher.  He said he had overseen several student teachers and that they needed the time in the classroom with a regular teacher before you turn them loose in their own classroom.
  • Jonathan Knapp from SEA got up and said that the reason there are conditional certifications for teachers is for exceptional expertise or to fill gaps.  He had organized the NEA vote against TFA in districts with no teacher shortages.  
The Superintendent did some updates on accomplishments by staff and students but oddly, there was no mention of the new director of curriculum and instruction.   (As it turns out, this person is not replacing Cathie Thompson but will work under her.  Where did we get the money for this?)

Board Comments

Harium let people know that Enrollment is having a school bus going throughout the city to register students starting on July 10th somewhere in the north end.   What an odd experiment.

Peter Maier had visited an event at the soon-to-open Viewlands and said it was well-attended.

Kay had a long speech about a number of things.  She said they were having a Work Session on August 24th around technology and wanted it to be "visionary."  She also spoke about the capacity management issue and that program placement is key.  She said that BEX IV is coming up and she said that most of the buildings in her region were old and needed replacement and she hoped her fellow Board members would remember this.  She said 50% of the school-aged children in her region go private.  She said thank you to Lowell and Garfield for the patience and advocacy and announced that 2.5 FTE would be added to Garfield so that students have a chance of a full schedule from day one.  She also mentioned a new taskforce for AL which Charlie and I never heard about so we are interested to find out what this is all about. 

Betty, following Kay's lead, also had a long soliloquy about having high hopes for RBHS, MAP scores, "we all make mistakes" - I had no idea what she was really trying to say. 

They then went on to the budget.  Duggan Harmon showed a chart of how the staffing had gone down at Central (but again, not sure if he meant adm or office).  He showed that in the Capital area that they have about $17M in various sources for a contingency reserve.  They can't use this for the General Fund but he may have been referring the costs for reopening new buildings.  He spoke of "prioritizing work and asking staff to either slow or redirect work." 

The budget passed unanimously.

There was a bit of an uncomfortable moment when they were discussing the purchase of MAC computer replacements for 10 schools.   Apparently most of the schools are in the north end and Betty wanted to know why.  Kay explained that many years back, several PTAs funded their computer labs and those were mostly in the north end.  Under this new purchase, schools can buy either workstations or laptops.  It was uncomfortable because, of course, this buying of computers is not something a lot of schools could have afforded in the past.  Also, why replace the Macs with Macs?  If the other schools are working off PCs, should the district stick with one type? 

They also approved, in one fell swoop, the previously mentioned $1M Wallace Foundation grant for the arts.   Here's a link to their report on what they are doing in other cities.  Charlie and I both greatly dislike non-emergency measures that are intro'ed and voted on at one meeting.  This is happening more and more and again, staff expects it will work every time (and they are right).  The reasoning this time is that they would lose 6 weeks of planning. 

I do want to correct something I said previously about this grant.  They have to hire at least 3 new people for it but the funds DO come from the grant itself.  (I had thought they couldn't use the grant funds for hiring.) 

I have a few doubts about this grant as it is only for planning.  I did attempt to call the Wallace Foundation to ask about if there would be a possibility that after all the planning, the next grant wouldn't come thru (SPS would have to apply for the implementation grant).  Unfortunately, I was told to look through their website and then write them a letter.  That I don't have time for so I can't say how solid it is that SPS will move on to implementation for this grant in our schools. 

So then we came to TFA.  It was only an Intro item and is one in a series of events that has to happen for TFA to come to Seattle.  Holly Ferguson stressed that no TFA recruits have been recommended for hire.  She said the August 17th date is important because the recruits will need to get a certificate thru OSPI by then.  If any are recommended by then, their names and schools will be printed in the next Board agenda to be approved.  If not, then this action is moot and they will then need another Board motion.  Then the Board asked questions.

Kay asked if the district had any control over the price break TFA is getting from UW.  Holly said no.  Kay said so if the district has no control over the price, then the only thing the Board can do is express concern to UW.  Sherry Carr jumped in and said we could send a letter from the Board that "we don't value that practice."

Yes, I was quite surprised.  I assume they were referring my work on the UW proposal. 

Holly seemed a bit taken aback but said, yes, the Board could write such a letter to UW and TFA. 

Steve said they needed to "research" this idea.  Betty chimed in if UW was raising tuition for in-state students that it seemed unfair to give discounts to others. 

(As an aside, I have heard from UW President Phyllis Wise who said that the TFA program will be "administered" through their Educational Outreach program and there is no tuition, just program fees.  I called a Vice-Provost about this and he is making the same claim.  When I pointed out that the agreement, the legal agreement between UW and TFA, calls it tuition, he said he hadn't seen the agreement.  Oh.  So I looked at the UWEO website and TFA isn't mentioned as a program available there at all.  It isn't referenced in the agreement.  UW didn't mention it in their presentation yesterday at the PESB meeting.  And the UWEO department clearly references tuition. 

I believe UW is trying to shake me off and make it look like I really don't know what I'm talking about.  I can only say if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, I'm calling it tuition and I do believe TFA is getting a break on it.  Dean Stritikus himself said he was going to talk to President Wise about "tuition flexibility.")

Steve veered off into the timing, that the district was just entering Phase III hiring.  Peter asked Holly a curious question about whether she could come back with "characteristics" of the TFA recruits like age, field of expertise, ethnic background, etc.  Holly said probably (but not their ages).  Peter said the contract asks for this information before renewal. 

Then Betty asked another classic Betty-blunt question:  she asked why are we targeting low-income minority schools for 5-week teachers?  She said she wanted "qualified" teachers in those classrooms.

Susan Enfield addressed that, saying that TFA has a clear mission to teach in high-needs schools.  She also said the TFA recruits could go to any building in the district.  (Really?  I want to see one of them in Montlake.  Or Roosevelt.  Or Laurelhurst.  Please.)  She also said TFA recruits having on-going support from TFA.  (This is true and I'll address this in my PESB thread). 

I sense some worry over this decision.  I'd be worried, too, if I were a Board member.


Anonymous said…
The Task Force KSB mentioned is for an APP Task Force which is supposed to do long-term planning for all of APP so that we don't continue to have capacity problems every two years.

The district asked for volunteers to send in their name at the end of the Lowell survey sent out last week.

-Waiting Lowell parent
Anonymous said…
Who is on the C&I board committee right now and previously? Wasn't APP "vision" supposed to have been done years ago? For sure I remember it was supposed to be done during the APP split. I remember the promise. I want to know which board members did not make sure the promise was kept. Because once again they are making physical program moves with zero planning. It is appalling.

Charlie Mas said…
I did not sense ANY worry over the TFA vote. The board still stands solidly behind it.

The Executive Committee of the Board has been talking about responding to public testimony. From the May 11 Executive Committee minutes:
"Protocol for Following up on Public Testimony – Erinn Bennett presented information on this item, which is a follow up item from the March Board retreat. Directors discussed feasibility of this item and the different way follow up can be accomplished. Directors approved the proposed protocol.
o Follow Up – Theresa Hale to note responses to public testimony during action or introduction of items and use to follow up with public testimony speaker

So I followed up my testimony about the HC grant application with an email to Ms Hale (cc'd the Board).

I got a response from Ms Ferguson in which she wrote that, according to District Policy, the Board only needs to approve the acceptance of grants, not the applications for them.

I wrote back to Ms Ferguson (and Ms Hale and the Board) to remind her that state law requires that this grant application be approved by the Board (I quoted the WAC section and provided a link to it), that the OSPI's iGrant profile for the grant shows that the application requires Board approval (with a link to the OSPI grant profile page), and that - as Ms Ferguson and the Board well knew - the Board approves the application annually (with links to the Board Action Reports for the Board's approval of the past three annual grant applications.

Yeah. That was a dumb thing for her to write to me. Who the hell did she think she was working with?

Of course, it is all for nothing. None of this struggle changes anything.

Hey! If it doesn't matter if I'm right, does it matter if I'm wrong? Could I tell heinous lies without anyone caring about the truth?
Steve said…
Waiting Lowell Parent (and anyone else who took the Lowell survey), do you remember to whom we are supposed to send our name if we are interested in the APP (and hopefully all Advanced Learning) task force? I missed that...
Anonymous said…
So the AL task force is going to made up of APP parents? Don't we already have an APP Advisory Committee? The problem seems that there is no AL group. The District needs to decide if AL is only APP or if it includes Spectrum. There is no one looking out for Spectrum (clearly as schools are dismantling it).

Spectrum-less in the South End
Spectrum-less, my thought as well. I'll have to talk to Bob Vaughn.
Anonymous said…

You are supposed to email public affairs at

Spectrumless - I was surprised that KSB called it an AL task force. I first heard about creation of this task force at the Lowell meeting last week and they were talking about it applying to APP.

-waiting Lowell parent (I am not waiting anymore)
StopTFA said…
Worried? Nobody loses sleep at night at JSCEE! And obviously some board members are on Ambien.
Anonymous said…
Maybe APP & Spectrum parents should create an Advanced Learning Coalition along the lines of the Alternative Schools Coalition.

--Sue P.
Charlie Mas said…
It is difficult for Spectrum communities to form coalitions because their concerns are so divergent.

On one hand you have families in the northeast and the northwest where they program capacity is insufficient to meet the demand. At some schools the conern is whether the program is compliant with the prescribed delivery model. Families at some programs want some more assurance that the program really is accelerated. In the southeast, there are so few students in the programs that there is legitimate question about whether there even IS a program other than in name only.

For ALO families, that is the primary concern all across the district: how is having an ALO different from NOT having an ALO? Is there any practical difference or do these programs exist in name only?
Lori said…
Harium let people know that Enrollment is having a school bus going throughout the city to register students starting on July 10th somewhere in the north end. What an odd experiment.

What? What students? People that are likely to show up at a neighborhood school this September but have not yet registered?

Or is this demographics research about how many and where kids under the age of 5 live so they can project enrollment in future years?

Sorry, I'm not understanding what this bus is supposed to do.
suep. said…
But Charlie, forming a coalition with a platform of unified goals -- real and defined AL opportunities for all kids who need it -- could precisely be a way to unite these disparate groups and give them more overall clout and influence with the district. You know -- 'United we stand' and all that...!

Btw, the Lowell announcement is out: all of Lowell APP 1-5 to Lincoln for 2011-12.

Sue P.
Carol Simmons said…
Did anyone understand what the decision was about the Family Trip excused absence? One board watcher thought they "tweeked" the policy and left whether or not a family trip was counted as an unexcused or an excused absence up to the individual principal.........,.another person thought they referred it out again to committee change the wording? Does anyone actually know? I asked them to vote "no" on the revised polcy wording which stated that a Family trip should be counted as an unexcused absence and they all voted after much discussion, "yes."
If you are as confused as I could anyone direct me as to whom I would approach to discover what they did?

Thank you,
Carol S.
dan dempsey said…
A few thoughts and a question:

Betty asked another classic Betty-blunt question: she asked why are we targeting low-income minority schools for 5-week teachers? She said she wanted "qualified" teachers in those classrooms.

At the PESB yesterday, the UW stated that this TfA program is much more than 5-weeks of training.... they explained about what takes place after the start of school and what will happen over the two years.

Betty's question is of particular importance in regard to the first quarter of a TfA candidates classroom teaching ... before they have received all the additional training. ... In other alternative pathways to certification the candidate receives certification after completing the training. TfA receives certification before the completion of training (five-weeks) is good enough. It seems that Charlie is correct these TfA folks are treated as "special people". From UW comments yesterday TfAers learn faster than others. Thus Betty should feel fortunate and comfortable as should all parents that Elite Super people have deigned to teach Seattle children.

Susan Enfield addressed that, saying that TFA has a clear mission to teach in high-needs schools. She also said the TFA recruits could go to any building in the district.

So Susan Enfield thinks that TfA would do the opposite of their clear mission.

Here is where I need the help.

Didn't at some point the district name the schools most likely to receive TfA candidates?
Please help me out ... after the PESB UW presentation and Susan Enfield I am sinking in total BS.

I sense some worry over this decision. I'd be worried, too, if I were a Board member.

NO WAY ... What Me Worry?
This is the Alfred E. Newman Board.
dan dempsey said…
Dear Carol S,

Here is my guess. It is a policy decision. I think that a vote is either a yes or a no on the policy as proposed.

If a revision is to be made, the vote needs to be a NO. Then the revision is made. When the new version comes back. Then it could be approved or not.

I would say a yes vote is a yes vote for what was presented without any modifications.

.... perhaps someone who knows more than I on this issue could chime in.

-- Dan
Anonymous said…
Melissa -

RE: tuition vs. program fees for TfA at the UW

This is a bit of a semantics issue. I work at the UW, and I work directly with these issues in my position.

There are some academic programs at the UW that are "state-funded" and in which students pay "tuition", which is regulated in some way by the state. There are other academic programs at the UW that are "self-sustaining" and not supported in any measure by state funds. In those, students pay "program fees" and all the fees go toward paying the expenses of the program - instruction, lab, etc. They sustain the program. Many of these programs are geared toward working professionals who are doing the programs in the evenings, after full-time work, or on some other altered-type of schedule/deliver model (e.g., distance learning).

Self-sustaining programs (also known as "fee-based programs" in many circles) are one of the only ways these days in which new academic programs and/or pathways are created at the UW given that there's been no state support for new endeavors.

The UW Educational Outreach arm generally provides the administrative backbone (fee collection, budget management, etc.) for most (but not all) of these self-sustaining programs.

The reality, though, is that people at the UW - at all levels, from students through to the faculty and administrators - use the term "tuition" on a daily basis to refer to all costs of enrolling in any kind of academic program. Even the programs themselves will use that term when really the UWEO administrative arm will call them "program fees." Tuition is what we all know in higher education, it is the common term, it's what students are used to hearing (especially if they've already gone to college) and very few get bother to get the wording right.

Maybe a different question to ask would be "are any state funds being used to support this program?" Especially since state funds have been slashed so tremendously over the last several years. And especially since that might mean taking away valuable funding from the regular, state-funded, master's in teaching (MIT) program.

I'd be happy to talk to you more about these issues.

--Works at the UW (& SPS parent)
AEIC said…
"The Superintendent did some updates on accomplishments by staff and students but oddly, there was no mention of the new director of curriculum and instruction. (As it turns out, this person is not replacing Cathie Thompson but will work under her. Where did we get the money for this?)"

SE's salary funded out of the budget line for the Sup. Her old salary as CAO is funding CT's new position. New Director of C&I will presumably be paid out of the salary line from CT's old position. Ironically, probably an over all decrease on spending in these three positions given that SE's salary is less than what MGJ was being paid, and (*I think*) CT is making less than what SE was as CAO.
StopTFA said…
Any disgruntled teachers out there?
StopTFA said…
I like how Dean Stritikus has some "splainin'"" to do.
Patrick said…
SE's salary funded out of the budget line for the Sup. Her old salary as CAO is funding CT's new position. New Director of C&I will presumably be paid out of the salary line from CT's old position.

What happens if the Board decides to hire someone other than Enfield -- does Enfield then not have a job to go back to?
Anonymous said…
Is there a list of schools that are TFA eligible?

CC mom
Charlie Mas said…
The testimony about the Native American program was deeply concerning. The Board is going to have to review that and soon.
peonypower said…
HECB- maybe that is the ticket, but given how the PESB rubber stamped the UW proposal I'm not sure it would help. The whole thing stinks like the 30 pounds of old frozen fish my neighbors left in their yard waste for a week. I wish I had gone on Wednesday but I was down with a summer cold. It is a slap in the face to SPS teachers. Disgruntled does begin to describe how it makes me feel.
wsnorth said…
re: West Seattle NSAP:

This is a joke: "Steve had said the plan would honor historical pathways."

The NSAP completely destroyed "historical" pathways. Instead of West Seattle Elementary schools being at the "heart" of their neighborhoods, at least 4 out of the ten remaining elementary schools in West Seattle now exclude families who live only a mere few blocks away from their "historical" school. Sick sick sick.
StopTFA said…
Well, according to Susan Enfield (and if we were really gullible), they could go to any school. Presumably, the only schools these inexperienced untrained people will work in are those with weak building hiring teams and/or tyrannical principals who force them down the throat of their staff.

The UW's TFA proposal listed Bailey Gatzert, Aki Kurose, RBHS, Hawthorne and Madrona K-8. I doubt they'll be hired at McGilvra, Eckstein, or Schmitz Park. When pigs fly.
dan dempsey said…
So does the current system that approved TfA violate article IX of the WA State Constitution?

Free & reduced meal % followed by white %

: 93.6 -- 8.5 : Bailey Gatzert
: 82.3 -- 4.1 : Aki Kurose
: 73.2 -- 9.4 : RBHS
: 84.8 -- 7.0 : Hawthorne
: 74.1 -- 13.7 : Madrona K-8

: 42.4 -- 44.1 : District averages

Putting TfAers with 5-weeks training into the above five schools certainly fits the definition of "Separate and Unequal" pretty darn well ...

hummm WWTMD

What Would Thurgood Marshall Do?

So could someone please tell me the NSAP "every school a quality school" fairytale again.

Steve Sundquist advertises the NSAP as a success that came about under his leadership as a director. Same with his twin Peter Maier I believe.
dan dempsey said…
Peonypower said about TfA:

"It is a slap in the face to SPS teachers. Disgruntled does begin to describe how it makes me feel."

That PESB TfA decision, right on top of the NEA Chicago action of "we reject the leadership provided by Arne Duncan" ... and then NEA endorsing Pres. Obama for president in Campaign 2012.

This is totally NEA lackey BS ... NEA gets member bucks and then ... produces complete political BS.

Both Major Political Parties are so monstrously clueless about public education to endorse a candidate from either party seems absurd. Has the NEA even noticed?

Note Republican Romney is the only candidate who has expressed opposition to the Common Core State Standards ... Obama is 100% behind Common Core.

Neither Romney nor Obama is likely to get a donation from me.

Having devoted almost my entire working life to teaching ... I am totally disgusted and may feel even worse than PeonyPower. The SEA, WEA, and NEA are about as near to worthless as any unions ever. Then the media will tell use how powerful these three unions are ..... If they had any power wouldn't they do something positive for their members?

If they are doing anything positive to improve the political climate... I have missed it.
StopTFA said…
Not ALL the professors at COE welcome TFA.

Serious Reservations
dan dempsey said…
Note the date on the above link about "serious reservations" was mid-May 2011 ... If you went to the July 7 PESB meeting, you would have noticed the UW remains confused and unable to answer questions.
Visions. hopes, and anecdotes should not pass for substantive answers (Guess they did for PESB members when it came time to vote. Do these people have any idea the demographics of the five schools these TfA 5-week wonders will be placed into?)

It is beyond my understanding how PESB members could have read the WAC, listened to the UW presentation, and then approved this TfA program.

I wonder what the Seattle School Board thought they were approving back in November 2010?

Clearly Harium is still all for TfA on the ridiculous assumption that this will broaden the candidate pool.

Months ago Harium stated that if this TfA approval helped even one child it would be worthwhile ... odd as it is bound to screw-up a large number of students.

Anyway we shall see how many of these TfAers get hired. Three of my four sons had problems with dyslexia ... if any of my kids had been placed into a TfA class ... I would likely be extremely displeased with the district. (Oh right I forgot -- I am white and not in a situation where poverty is an issue -- so my kids likely would not have been in a school that gets TfA newbies.)

As our four directors up for reelection Carr, Harium M-M, Sundquist, and Maier approved this TfA action... how can anyone be voting for any of those four?

Now that Mr. Tolley has pretty much cleared out all the teachers at RBHS it will be interesting to see how many TfAers are hired there.

Keep in mind that Susan Enfield initially rejected Mr. Chappelle as RBHS principal, even though he was the strongest candidate by far according to the RBHS community involved in the selection. It will be interesting to see how many TfAers are hired at RBHS.
CT said…
Interesting stuff, StopTFA. Bransford is a well-regarded prof with a strong research background and numerous publications/books to his name. He is worth much more to UW than Stritikus; they'd be wise to listen to his concerns. I'm glad to see that not all of the COE faculty have drunk the TFA kool-aid and stepped onto Stritikus' slime trail.

Dorothy Neville said…
Ct: Yes, isn't that quite a letter.

Remember TfA is all about creating LEADERS. Reading that email shows exactly how little Stritikus has learned about leadership.
StopTFA said…

I agree. I like this John guy very much. But I like this student, Mya, even more. Talk about what a TFA wuss should aspire to be! This young lady is passionate about her community and was kicking Tom's ass up and down the block at the student meeting. Can you tell from this email he's afraid of her? : )

Cover me from behind
CT said…
Stop TFA -
Yes, I could tell he was afraid of her, mostly because he had no truthful responses for her factually-based concerns. I also noted (with some amount of glee) the e-mail that referenced Melissa as the source for all the negative comments on the piece in the Times... poor cowardly dean. I'm not seeing the leadership there, frankly. Guess the UW COE and SPS have something in common.

SPSLeaks said…
More UW/TFA docs on:


Dorothy Neville said…
SPSLeaks URL Fixed here
Anonymous said…
Dan says:

"Betty asked another classic Betty-blunt question: she asked why are we targeting low-income minority schools for 5-week teachers? She said she wanted "qualified" teachers in those classrooms."

The reason TfA is going into places with vulnerable populations is because TfA is an experiment:

This country has a strong history of doing experiments on vulnerable populations (who lack political power), i.e. Tuskegee, et al.

If this were a method that had demonstrated success, it would be going to the more affluent schools.

--experimenting on children in poverty is immoral and I'm glad Betty Patu and the RBHS community know it
CT said…
They also go into low income areas because the parents are less likely to complain and advocate for their children, and the district takes advantage of this. Many of these families don't speak English, or work 2 jobs, or are headed by a single parent trying to be make ends meet, etc. - no time to keep track of things like this. All the more reason for others to make sure this does not happen.

Anonymous said…
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