Sunday, October 02, 2011

Seattle Schools Calendar for the Week of October 3-8, 2011

Monday, Oct. 3rd
Early Enrollment starts.  See SPS website for details.

Tuesday, Oct. 4th
Intermediate Term Capacity Management community meeting from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Mercer Middle School, 1600 S. Columbian Way

Wednesday, Oct. 5th
Operations Committee mtg (meeting of the whole which I believe means the entire Board) from 4-5:30 p.m.  No agenda available yet. 

School Board meeting from 6-9 p.m.
Sign up to speak starting 8:00 am on Monday, 252-0040 Agenda.
This includes the (late) contract for NWEA for MAP testing.  There is a torturously long explanation of why this is such a great thing which leads me to believe staff thinks there will be pushback from the public testimony.  One thing I didn't know - all students new to the district have to take the fall MAP.   Also, Mark Teoh told the C&I committee that the cost was going up by $20k but here it appears that it is $30k.  It also says this:

Due to staff reductions, unfortunately this subscription agreement was delayed, therefore we are
bringing it forward now.

Mr. Boesche says this in a memo to Dr. Enfield:

Today it was discovered by REA staff that the 2011-12 contract renewal had not yet gone to the Board
for approval.  Evidently the person who had handled this in the past was one of our central office

While this is a miscue on staff’s part in regard to our process for approval of contracts, I did commend
them for bringing this issue forward immediately with full disclosure.  Part of the ‘lesson learned’ that I did with REA is to ask them to schedule a meeting in June to review all current contracts and to calendar any new, or renewals (including this contract), so that this can be avoided.

Is this 2011?  Because I can't believe there is no master calendar for renewals of this sort.  No "pop-ups" on computers signaling something like this needs to get done.

Full disclosure?  We have to celebrate that people actually admit they erred?   I'm sorry but no amount of staff reductions should be named as the reason for someone not doing their job and tracking deadlines for contracts and grants.  And didn't people get raises because they had more work duties?

And they are waiting until JUNE to have a meeting to calendar new or renewals of contracts?  I must be missing something. 

There is also a "placeholder" intro/action for any TFA who may be "identified" by staff to be hired.  The item will be removed if there are no candidates.  I don't particularly like this done this way because (1) there should be a true emergency to do intro/action at the same time and (2) are they going to do this for every Board meeting on the off-chance they hire someone from TFA?  I can only say that I have only rarely seen an item get introduced and left blank except for filling in a monetary figure. 

Thursday, Oct. 6th
Intermediate Term Capacity Management community meeting from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Madison Middle School, 3429 45th Ave SW

Saturday, Oct. 8th
Community Meetings:

Carr - 8:30-10 am, Bethany Community Church, 8023 Green Lake Dr.
Smith-Blum - 10-11:30 am, Douglass Truth Library, 2300 E. Yesler Way
Sundquist - 11 am - 12:30 p.m., High Point Library, 3111 SW Raymond St.

Other Events

Tuesday, Oct. 4th 
Byrant Elementary PTSA Candidate Forum from 7-9 pm at 3311 NE 60th St.

Thursday, Oct. 8th
CPPS  meeting for SE parents to discuss issues about their schools and their direction.  Rainier Beach library at 10 am.


Guichon said...

"No "pop-ups" on computers signaling something like this needs to get done.

Full disclosure? We have to celebrate that people actually admit they erred? I'm sorry but no amount of staff reductions should be named as the reason for someone not doing their job and tracking deadlines for contracts and grants. And didn't people get raises because they had more work duties?

And they are waiting until JUNE to have a meeting to calendar new or renewals of contracts? I must be missing something."

The "pop-up" was probably on the computer of the person that was let go.

Yes (!!!!), by all means, celebrate that people admitted an error. Just that little bit indicates a slow shift in culture. What would have happened before? The excuse would have been something like "we don't know how this happened." Mr. Boesche at least gives a reason (whether you want to believe the reason is another story - but, then again in your eyes, the distict can do no right).

Yes, you are missing something. You are not providing the other side of the story. Why don't you ask someone like Boesche (or the supe, or - heck - someone in REA) why they will wait until June, before you go making snide remarks like "I must be missing something?"

And wasn't it info on this blog that said that the stuffed shirts in executive management are the ones that got raises? So who is it to say that an executive is the one that needs to track this? This kind of task is normally given to a subordinate - someone who would not have been in a position to receive the raise to which you refer.

And, just to be clear, I am not trying to "suppress an activist" by making my opinion about her remarks known. I simply disagree with the charaterizations made.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Guichon, it wasn't a snide remark. I asked, "Am I missing something?" It's a fairly blank and open question.

Nope, it wasn't all executive management that got raise (unless there are over 100 people in ex management).

MAPsucks said...

I seem to remember someone (Sherry Carr) asking staff some months ago to write up a list of all contracts requiring renewal or some kind of routine action.

I see they got right on that... Guichon, obviously somebody better damn well track this sh*t. It wasn't beneath Bernatek or DeBarros. Guess since they're gone, nobody's home.

Anonymous said...

It is a pretty straightforward AP (Accounts Payable) thing to know what is coming due when.

To not know would give a strong indication that accounting is operating in a siloed environment. No smooth, sustainable practices. Not best practices for such a large organization as SPS.

Ask Director Sherry Carr. She is a financial leader at Boeing and a Director at SPS.

Overall, the admittance to less than best practices by those at SPS is a move in the right direction.

Appreciably, no misdirection to the School Board or involved parents which is the typical locale to toss diversionary blame.

- A former AP employee

dan dempsey said...

Time to call for a testimony slot... Here is my testimony (first draft)

Directors, I am Dan Dempsey. 10-5-2011

I am here to object to the proposed TfA action. This is my third appearance on this matter. I am back because you offered no explanation for your previous illegal approvals.

Director Maier, when you were running for School Board in the summer of 2007, we met on a Seattle sidewalk. You expressed some frustration with people that keep testifying week after week.

I would really like to be elsewhere tonight, but you Directors are hardly living up to your political claims of being transparent communicators, so I am here.

Once again I ask: When has the District conducted a careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps?

Do any of you believe that requesting conditional certification for TfA Corp members legally complies with WAC 181-79A-231? If so why?

The District would spend less on outside legal services if it complied with laws and explained compliance when questioned, but currently that is NOT happening. You Directors choose not respond to my testimonies or letters. It seems that for me to get an answer requires $240 and a court appearance.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data, but this District chooses to ignore a great deal of really important data.

Achievement gaps in Math will never close as long as directors chose to ignore common sense.
=== (continued)

dan dempsey said...

The District maintains that the lowest math class offered entering 9th graders should be algebra, but that practice is not working out.

Algebra is a pathetic mess for a large number of low income 9th graders. Only 38% of low income 9th graders that took algebra could pass the State’s End of Course Algebra assessment… 62% failed: and 36% scored far below basic. Yes more than 1 in 3 were essentially algebra clueless. Yet I am told math instruction is improving.

So tonight what is the Board going to do about that 9th grade math mess?

Apparently, absolutely nothing constructive, rather the directors will approve another TfA corp member and pretend they have done something to narrow the achievement gaps.

Then it is on to the introductory item for spending almost $500,000 on Measures of Academic Progress testing…. MAP…What a waste.

So what did MAP do for those Algebra students?

What is MAP doing for any students other than sucking up valuable instructional time? What a waste of Half-a-Million Dollars.

Thanks for listening. How about responding?
Better yet do something constructive--- STOP MAP and STOP TfA.

====================== (3 minutes)

Hopefully electing four new directors will improve board decision-making, communication, and transparency. Then perhaps a careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps can take place.

Jan said...

I am with Guichon, here. It is bad that they don't have a process in place -- but we KNOW there is dysfunction, and I am glad they are, step by step, trying to fix it.

And in another time, there would never have been a public vetting of, or apology for, the error -- until maybe, say the auditor found it --

and SOMEONE would have said -- you know, it would be helpful if they would just bring this stuff forward when they find it. After all, we all make mistakes, but we can't start fixing the system until we start being forthright about what doesn't work, etc. etc. etc.

No, it is not great. But I think Guichon is right -- it si a slow start at changing a culture of bumbling, deception, and lack of responsibility -- to one of mere bumbling. Once we get the deception and CYA out, there is an ability to start making some real progress.

dan dempsey said...

Hummm... so how is the culture change in the SPS going???

After visiting OSPI today and finding many employees gone for two days to a conference on certification (no kidding, how ironic.) Here is today's letter to the PESB administrative assistant I talked with.===========

To the PESB:

Dear Erin Smessaert, 10-3-2011

The Seattle Public Schools was and is making applications for conditional certification for Teach for America Corp Members, while not satisfying the conditions of the law WAC 181-79A-231.

The School Board has completely ignored two testimonies from me on this matter and has not responded to emails.

I am attaching my School Board testimony for Wednesday 10-5-2011. I could include a significant number of communications on this matter that have been ignored by the school board, if needed.

On 9-21-2011, in my second testimony on this matter before the Seattle School Board I stated the following:

{{For years }} the District failed to provide adequate services to many low income and minority students. Required interventions for struggling students were not provided and that policy requirement was eventually changed.

Tonight’s TfA action report adds insult to injury.

It refers to a TfA agreement approved Nov. 17, 2010.

“Bringing forward a request for conditional certificates is specifically contemplated in the Teach for America agreement,{{ Section I (C), which states }} “Seattle Public Schools agrees to request conditional certificates for all Teach for America corps members on the grounds that circumstances warrant the issuance of such certificates, as permitted by WAC 181-79A-231.”

That law states:

The professional educator standards board encourages in all cases the hiring of fully certificated individuals and understands that districts will employ individuals with conditional certificates only after careful review of all other options
. ....

.......The circumstances that supposedly warrant the issuance of conditional certificates are the achievement gaps in the Seattle Public Schools.

A careful review of all other options to close the achievement gaps has NOT been performed.

The District on numerous occasions continued with materials and practices that have been particularly harmful to educationally disadvantaged learners. The district has made a regular practice of this in mathematics.

The District continually ignored the practices that proved so successful in Project Follow Through and practices proven to work as reported in Visible Learning by John Hattie. The district takes direction from the UW’s Math Education Project {{M.E.P.}}despite worsening results.

The Superintendent stated that the situation in regard to mathematics is improving as the teachers have become more agile in using the materials. Test scores show otherwise.

The District has not conducted a careful review of other options for closing the achievement gaps. The Superintendent and the Board are apparently in complete denial of reality. .....

To approve tonight’s TfA action report will require the Board claim a careful review has been performed, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Vote “NO”. Low Income students deserve teachers with full certification. The Superintendent has failed to tell the truth … the Board should not join her in this TfA deception.
================ (end of testimony)

My questions for the PESB and OSPI are:
Who is granting the requested "conditional certifications" and why is the law not being applied in this situation?


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

Charlie Mas said...

Two additional meetings this week, relating to the credit for world language proficiency.

Seattle Public Schools has recently adopted a policy and procedure for assessing language proficiency and granting competency-based credits for world languages that students are not able to study in school. If your child can speak, read, and write a language other than English, then you might want to consider participating in this program. Students may be able to earn from 1-4 high school world language credits. These credits can help meet high school graduation requirements for elective credits and 4-year college admissions requirements for world (foreign) languages.

Students and parents are invited to an information session:

6:30-7:30 p.m, Thursday, 10/6/11
Chief Sealth International High School, Room 222
2600 S.W. Thistle St., Seattle, WA 98126

9:30-10:30 a.m., Saturday, 10/8/11
Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center (SBOC/ Seattle World School), Room 13
301 21st Ave. E., Seattle, WA 98112

For more information, visit https://sites.google.com/site/worldlanguagecredits/.