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Monday, October 10, 2011

Put This One on Your Calendar

Just received this (partial) notice from Dr. Enfield and SCPTSA President, Lauren McGuire (highlights in red mine):

On Monday, Oct. 17, we are jointly hosting an SCPTSA Fall General Meeting from 7-8:30 p.m. at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence, 2445 3rd Avenue South, to talk about how to best ensure all of our families are truly engaged and connected to our schools.  Have you ever wondered about how to get involved or what role you can play in your school’s decision-making process? Join us next Monday, Oct. 17 and get your questions answered.

We will be there, along with School Board Vice President Michael DeBell and members of the District leadership team, to discuss and answer questions about the School Board's policies on School Governance.  All school communities and family members are welcome, whether or not your school has a PTSA.

As part of our work together, we want to remind families how important it is to get involved in your school.  Research shows that children perform better academically when they see their parents volunteering at school.  Participating in school leadership is one way to be involved.  Every school has a joint teacher-family leadership team, called the Building Leadership Team, Site Council, Governance Team or other similar body. As created by School Board policy, these teams may play a role of advising, consulting, communicating, implementing, monitoring, evaluating and decision-making.  For more information, please see Board Policies F20.00-F21.00, at http://bit.ly/SPS_F20.  We encourage you to get involved in your school, and to learn more about your building’s school governance leadership team.  For more information, contact your building principal and PTSA or parent organization leader.


I note in the first paragraph (heck, all of it) no mention of input about these issues from parents. 

In the third paragraph, the red sentence, I'd like proof of that.  I'm not sure that every school does have some kind of joint team.  In fact, I think some of them are not in place in any real way. 

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow - a week's notice for such an important event. Ridiculous.

PAL

Sahila said...

Re the SCPTSA... people might like to start asking Lauren McGuire why the SCPTSA is pushing charter schools all of a sudden....

And where was the public discussion of this before SCPTSA put it on the agenda?

Does the fact that the Gates Foundation, which strongly supports charter schools, gave the national PTA $2 million in 2009 have anything to do with Seattle and WA State PTA leadership embracing a key component of the Gates ed reform agenda?

mirmac1 said...

"This year, the District is focusing on four pillars of success: great principals, great teachers, families connected to schools and a central office serving schools and students."

Where's the data to show these four "pillars" will actually be effective, particularly in struggling schools? Or is this a Lesley Rogers construct?

As for "There must be open and transparent communication." Was the TFA pay off an example of that?

Eric B said...

Strictly speaking, I think it's WA State PTSA that's pushing charter schools, but it's still worth asking about where it came from and why it's up on the agenda again.

I would be very surprised if there was a school that didn't have a BLT or equivalent. The fine print is whether all schools include parents in a meaningful way. For schools without a PTSA, how should the principal choose a parent rep?

Sahila said...

a pro-charter LEV guy is addressing Washington State PTA legislative assembly
on October 14th and 15th.

... from another discussion:
"What's really interesting about the legislative assembly is that the expense and time problem does bias it toward PTA members who have $$$. (You should see the prices on meals, if you choose to get them - like $30 for lunch!) Even more interesting is that the very people who will be the most successful and respected in their PTAs will be the people who are best at raising funds - that is, the people who are friends with people who have $$$$. This adds some anti-union bias, because managers are less likely to approve of unions than workers themselves.

As for the vote itself, well, as I understand it, each school that sends a delegate pays at least $145 for the vote, because that's what it costs to attend the assembly. Cross off all the struggling schools and, of course, the schools where the parents don't have strong PTAs.

Now, let's put everything together.

- legislative assembly is costly and difficult to attend, leading to possible anti-union bias
- the Washington State PTA did not include any "cons" in its issue guide and presented the issue in a biased fashion
- the outside organization Stand For Children, which is biased against unions, has been attempting to influence this election

I must say, that looks bad!

Would somebody like to contact people from the Washington State PTA and ask if we may include a page on charter school "cons" in the registration packet?" ...

For more info:

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/whoa-where-did-that-come-from-washington-state-pta-charter-schools/

and here:

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/whoa-where-did-that-come-from-washington-state-pta-charter-schools-part-2/

and here:
http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/stand-for-children-school-board-races-and-the-washington-state-pta/

WV = cring.... cringing is certainly what I would be doing, if I was aligned with these deceitful, manipulative folks here in Seattle

Anonymous said...
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Meg said...

Sahila, please make your case and skip the name-calling.

If you disagree passionately but struggle to articulate it, fine. If you have a point-by-point refutation of their rationale, present it.

I strongly disagree with the SCPTSA on this one. That said, it's quite a jump to move to calling the leadership deceitful and manipulative.

Name said...

I'm glad they are talking about how BLTs work. At some schools its like a secret society that only a privileged few are privy to. Is there a set formula for how many teachers, parents, and admin are on a BLT? I am pretty sure its a union requirement so can some schools have a site council instead of a BLT?

Being part of a BLT is extremely time consuming and its hard to find a time that works for the different constituents because working parents can't necessarily come during the day and teachers are teaching so it has to be held early morning or late afternoon and that means childcare issues for the parent on the BLT. Transparency and timely communication is another big issue with BLT. I think the teacher reps do a reasonable job of reporting back to the teachers but I have no idea how parent reps engage with families to get guidance on how to represent their wishes.

I would love to see a dialog about how governance works at the school level. Its something that Alternative Schools pay close attention to but I don't think it appeals to most traditional folks.

Sahila said...

Meg.... you need to re-read my post... with understanding this time....

I didnt say the leadership of the SCPTSA was deceitful and manipulative (though if they dont keep their members fully informed and make decisions in their name without their consent, as they have done in the past, then perhaps they are!)...

I said the people they associate with are deceitful and manipulative...

And I am sorry your comprehension abilities are so under-developed that you have trouble understanding the content of my posts....

some things are just a bit too complex to deconstruct into short sentences containing only words of two syllables or less...

kellie said...

Wow, Sahila, That is over the top.

Attacking Meg's comprehension abilities, um, wow.

And FWIW, there are lots of thoughtful people that push Charter Schools. They just have different thoughts and/or different priorities than my own. I am not a fan of charters. However, I do try to understand the understand the other side of the argument.

Sahila said...

@Kellie... that's your opinion and not a fact, and you are entitled to your opinion, of course...

Meg misread my post and then chose to have a go at me...

I am rather tired of being attacked for what I post every single time I post something... postings that are filled with facts and references and verifiable statements...

If people dont want to believe the reality of what is going on in Seattle - that's their choice and good luck to them in their denial...

But that doesnt change that IT IS HAPPENING and its rather pathetic to keep shooting the messenger...

Magua said...

Nice. Keep bringin' the crazy and the angry in addition to the Change.

dan dempsey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dan dempsey said...

It seems that amidst all this verbal controversy a few points could calmly be made.

#1 Logic and reason are often not the primary drivers for changes. The big money can be a significant factor. A change is not necessarily an improvement.

#2 The connection between Charter Schools and increased accountability is really a big reach.

#3 The connection between big money and action is not much of a reach.

#4 TFA corp member conditional certification approvals provided an excellent show of the big money driving the arrival of TFA in Seattle...

December 2009 PESB executive director starts influencing how the WAC will be interpreted for conditional certs... and then the rest just falls into place.

If you want the TfA story through the documents see the very bottom of this big web page.
-----

Charter Schools may be a similar exercise.

SP said...

Name said...

FYI- The SEA website seattlewea.org has the teacher's contract and includes several pages of BLT structure, membership, etc. (see Article II, Section A 4.b and 4.h)

(Concerning parent involvement in BLT's):

h. The Building Leadership Team and building committees shall include parent/family
members, students, and community representatives as appropriate. Building-based
committees will seek input from other organizational structures (e.g., PTSA, site council)
as appropriate.

jj said...

I'm so glad pta is doing this. I never understood how all the workings are at schools.

Anonymous said...

This isn't a pro-charter stance. But I believe there are lots of frustrated folks like me who after many years of quietly supporting our schools, teachers, and administrators by writing checks, volunteering, going to community meetings, voting for ed levies, and doing all the stuff we've been told to do, we find ourselves not necessarily better off in our struggle to find a quality education our kids need. (You can find it, but it requires living at the right address, a little luck -with the lottery, the time to figure out how to navigate the system and a good crystal ball.)

While my mind and ears are wide open, I can tell you the verbal jousting using sound bites like "ed deformers" and "greedy, anti-union/teacher capitalists", the District's "four pillars", "excellence for all" and the Reformer's "we are here for the children" are NOT the stuff that engage a discussion or win minds.

Fed up

kellie said...

@ Sahila,

If being misunderstood in a blog post is a cause for upset, then we have all just dramatically shortened our life expectancy.

I truly appreciate your reminders that big money can have its own priorities, goals and objectives and that the agenda of big money might not represent the same core values as parents, students or communities. I really do.

That said, I also understand the frustration of families that sincerely believe that a charter school could be the only way for them to get the free and appropriate eduction as promised in the Washington State constitution. There are a lot of families in the state of Washington that sincerely believe a charter school is their only hope.

As a state wide organization, the Washington State PTSA hears from a lot of voices outside of this blog and I would not be surprised if they have been hearing from their members about charters.

I am not a fan of charters. However, I know that I would do anything to ensure that my children get the education they need and I can't blame any parent for doing the same.

SCPTSA is comprised of a handful of very hardworking volunteers. The local level is creating this event to help connect families to school governance. There may be big money in eduction and there may be issues with big money at the Washington State PTA. But there are also, real people sincerely working for better schools.

I am inclined to be generous with my assessment the intentions of local parents. Lauren and Meg have both invested more than enough sweat equity in the education world to earn a little benefit of the doubt, even if they have a different idea (or opinion).

Sahila said...

more on the Seattle PTSA stuff:

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/the-washington-pta-stacks-the-deck-towards-charter-schools/

Sahila said...

Kellie.... please stop lecturing/patronising me...

thanks...

Name said...

Thanks, SP. I think schools should reach out to accountants for help w/ budgets and that priincipals need more training on labor issues so that the budget advisors at the district don't have so much influence.

Observer said...

Sahila,

I thought Kellie's polite comment was far from lecturing or patronizing. But you were postively rude to Meg, who was also very polite to you. She's always struck me as a pretty savvy person and it was just nasty to imply she needs small words in order to comprehend.

I understand your passion and determination, but you turn on people who are actually on the same page as you regarding the district and that's only going to hurt your cause. It also paints you as a person who doesn't get along with others and drives potential allies away. People who ask polite questions aren't the enemy. You're getting in your own way here.

Anonymous said...

The great thing about charters is you don't have know-it-all-do-gooders over-reaching into the school you have chosen for your child believing they have the one and only true vision. The current system is deformed and most familes endure inspite of it.

-charter lover

Jan said...

Charter lover -- well, that COULD be a good thing about charter schools (for those who like decentralization and local control -- I do, but many get pretty riled over the idea that you are calling the ed shots, and "they" (the taxpayer) are footing the bill.

But -- assuming you are right. It does not necessarily follow that you will be freed of "know-it-all-do-gooders over-reaching into the school you have chosen for your child believing they have the one and only true vision." While your issue resonates with me -- you wouldn't be the person choosing what charter organization comes in. The District (which owns the building) would. Who do you think they will listen to? A loosely organized "group" of parents -- none of whom are educational experts, many of whom don't have money; most of whom have kids who will only be there for a 4 or 5 years? Or big charter organizations -- like KIPP and others, who are highly politically connected, intensely focused on doing the necessary pr and political groundwork to get the District to "turn over" the building and related assets to them, so they can retain a highly paid "charter managment company" to come in and oversee "their" educational program. And the only "deal" to which they are held is the contract between them and the District. Hate the principal? Tough. Appalled at suspensions and expulsions of kids for fairly minor infractions? Tough. Concerned that there are virtually NO SPED kids in any class, and the two you know of were quietly "hounded out" by failing grades, unsympathetic staff, and "stonwalling" instead of help? Tough. If the "winners" in the charter sweepstakes are the highly organized, "ready-to-move-in-tomorrow-with-curriculum-and-staff, extremely motivated to make money off of tax dollars, cheap teachers and expensive curriculum from for profit companies -- you will have far less recourse than you do today. And -- once they are there, good luck EVER getting them out. Their pockets are deeper than the District's when it comes to a fight.

I would be CHARMED if we could have truly local charters, run locally, and offering a plethora of educational choices. But those are NOT the people currently lobbying the legislature for another crack at charter schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jan, you said it all.

Our alterative schools were all started by parents (one by former Director, Nancy Waldman, among others). They were a vision among a group of parents and the district used to embrace that notion.

But charters are less likely to be parent driven. Jan points out that, just like a private school, if you don't like their way, there's the highway. Sure if they don't get enough parents, they will fail but I have heard little about being responsive to parents' concerns.