The Stuff that Drives Me Mad

There are a number of things that the District leadership does that simply drives me mad. It's what fuels my energy to do this work. There's something nearly every day. Here's a recent sample:

School Board President Steve Sundquist, speaking about the policy revisions that the Board is zooming through carelessly: "It's in everyone's interest that we move quickly," he said. "Time is of the essence." Really? What's the urgency? There is none. This is a false urgency used as a cover for sloppy work.

From the Friday Update of November 4, Teaching and Learning Update: "High School Physical Science – This course is defined by the district-wide objectives in the form of Washington State Standards; however, a current challenge to implementing this course effectively is the lack of instructional materials due to the hold on curricular adoptions." This from the same people who tell us that the materials do not dictate the course. Now they say that they cannot teach the course without standardized materials.

The Program Placement policy was totally ignored. First by the superintendent who chose to violate every part of it. Second by the Board, who chose to allow the policy to be violated. The policy requires transparency, but the superintendent and the Board - who blather on and on about their commitment to transparency - will not support it. And now the District leadership are preparing to totally ignore the policy again this year.


dan dempsey said…
the superintendent and the Board - who blather on and on about their commitment to transparency -

#1... if you seek an answer for some questions .... to get the answers ... will require a filing fee and a trip to Superior Court. (How is that transparency?)

A.. Repeated emails and Board testimony of TFA brought ZERO from the BOARD but they approved the request for TFA hiring of individuals, without bothering to conduct the "required" careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps. (or mentioning any review ... just circumstances warrant) --- Want an answer ... well 20 days after filing an appeal a box or more of stuff will show up and you can pick through it to see if you can find an answer to your question.... TRANSPARENT? - I think not.

B.. Get ready to watch the same process repeated in the waiver request from 150 hours / credit for Cleveland. The Action Report from Enfield and Tolley is a complete joke. It does not even attempt to meet the requirements of the two WACs listed.

Same deal so far ... testify and write letters and not receive a single response to this fraudulent fiasco from the Board.

C.. The Superintendent has a commitment to extremely sloppy action reports .... in which the boxes are usually all filed in but often with complete nonsense..

( I love this one -- TIMELINE/ COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT --- Upon approval of this motion, the 150 hour/credit application will be submitted to the state. If approved, Cleveland begin receiving full funding. There should be no other impact to the school or school community..... ) -- They should have included there will be NO attempt made to answer questions raised in emails or testimony. There will be NO Community Engagement.

You will notice in the Action Report there were big revisions and scratch outs .... The Authors should scratch out Community Engagement.

... Watch the vote on the Cleveland waiver and the Board's comments... (I'll be watching and listening to Feist in Portland) .... Want an answer file an appeal and look through the boxes provided -- that is SPS transparency.
mirmac1 said…
I would say the urgency is for wholesale adoption of the pro-administration WSSDA policies. In my mind, they're like the Association of Washington Business lobby but in the business of our kids' schools.
Kathy said…
Lack of funding at both state and local levels for CCSS is a disaster in the making.

BTW- my eighth grader has never had a science text-book. Sloppy. Very sloppy.
Charlie Mas said…
How the heck did the District expect to introduce a course - Physical Science - and have it taught in every high school (and some middle schools) if they have no Standards, no content, no syllabus, and no textbook.

Who was responsible for planning this disaster? Elaine Ko? And under who was her supervisor? Cathy Thompson? Susan Enfield? Where is the freakin' accountability for this? What was the Board doing?

Aligning the science curriculum was one of the primary projects of the Strategic Plan, "Excellence for All". How could it have been bungled so badly that no one bothered to design the freshman course? Where was the Board's oversight of the Strategic Plan?

The reliably poor quality of the work done in the JSCEE just ASTOUNDS me.
Charlie Mas said…
Will the FACMAC pay any attention to the Program Placement Policy?

Will the superintendent follow the policy this year?

Will the Board ever enforce it?
dan dempsey said…
I believe the only way to get the Board to pay attention is to bring several Board members to a recall sufficiency hearing and have the Judge rule that the charges against them meet sufficiency. Once the printing of recall petitions is authorized by the court.... then perhaps Peter Maier and Harium would pay some attention.

Apparently 50% of the voters preferred not to pay attention to the State Auditor.

Perhaps with recall charges in front of the voters, then more voters might pay attention.
Anonymous said…
I don't know Charlie. This reminds me a bit of the attempted Science Curriculm alignment debacle earlier this Spring. Sigh! Curriculum and instruction is a basic duty of school administration, but it almost seems they don't have anyone downtown who understands science education and working on this issue at all. Don't even know if they have a goal beyond the need to improve test scores and to look like they are innovating something. I think that is what is driving C&I, not content, not knowledge, not learning science.

Eric B said…
FACMAC is producing scenarios for staff to review (eg Move program A from X to Y to relieve crowding at Y). Per Pegi McEvoy and Bob Boesche, the staff then take ownership of the ideas, determine if they work, and then present official options to the Board for review. The final options may be in the form of "Do at least two of these five things" or "We prefer these two options; we also looked at these three and rejected them for the following reasons."

I have not seen a copy of the program placement policy at a FACMAC meeting.
Anonymous said…

Forgive me for not fully understanding the issue, but Cleveland isn't changing anything, right? All the District is doing is applying for a waiver so that cleveland can come off the ALE list and the District can collect the full funding for basic ed instead of the 90%. Am I understanding this correctly? How does that affect the community? Cleveland is STILL offering the same 150 hours this year as they did last year.

A friend of Seattle
SeattleSped said…
"FACMAC is producing scenarios for staff to review (eg Move program A from X to Y to relieve crowding at Y). Per Pegi McEvoy and Bob Boesche, the staff then take ownership of the ideas.."

Interesting. What I want to know is where does special education fit in. Remember, our children have a right to attend the school they would attend, but for their disability. As it stands, our kids are bussed around town to a) wherever there's room to put a program, and b) whichever has staff that "takes ownership" of their duty to follow the law and educate ALL children.
Anonymous said…
Mmmm, I love it when you lose control like that Charlie.

dan dempsey said…
Cleveland is STILL offering the same 150 hours this year as they did last year. -- nope

Cleveland is still offering the same 127.5 hours they did last year ((NOT 150 hours/ credit))

Last year CHS received full funding because an A.L.E. school was funded at 100% ... but this year A.L.E.s are only funded at 90%.

Thus CHS wishes not to be an A.L.E. .. but to be a regular school instead of an A.L.E. .... for that to happen either CHS needs to offer 150 hours per credit or get a waiver.... Given CHS is only providing 127.5 hours per credit ... the waiver is the only action that has been chosen. ..... BUT the action report is defective as is the district's response.

One solution would be to give 0.85 credits per 127.5 hours of instruction. 32 courses at CHS would still give 27.5 credits for graduation.

The fact is CHS is trying to fool the students into believing they are learning the same amount of content and acquiring the same skills as if these courses were 150 hours ..... but the students are not learning and acquiring as much per course. Less time and Project Based Learning is a less efficient instructional mode. ... Problem Based Learning effect size =0.15

The CHS Algebra Class that got better results than many of the other District High School's pass rate .... was 255 hours in length and granted 2 credits.

The district will not even define the competencies that will be acquired during the 127.5 hours or how these competencies will be demonstrated (as required by WACs to request the waiver).

Read the action report and the two WACS ..... Mr. Tolley is an executive director for southeast ... He certainly was incompetent in putting the action report together.

{{{At least Tolley is not basing his action report on a forged document like Enfield did in NTN Action Report #2 (March 12, 2010) to get this whole NTN thing started.}} ... There were four Directors who voted for the $800,000 NTN contract ... Sundquist, Maier, Carr, and Martin-Morris ..... it was the usual failure to intelligently apply the relevant data in making a decision. .... The District never provided a certified correct transcript of the evidence ... Enfield submitted a forged document ... The failure to provide a "certified correct" transcript was heard in WA Appeals Court division I on Nov. 3, 2011 .... decision expected ... whenever.

SPS algebra I facts for those 9th graders taking Algebra I in 2010-2011
with State results in {{__}}

End Of Course assessment:
SPS => 1726 students tested
Not meeting Standard: 884 = 51.2% ... {{53.7%}}

The EoC was setup so that scores would correlate to Algebra knowledge in a course as follows..

Level 4 (A to Strong B) = 17.9% .......... {{17.5%}}
Level 3 (B- to C-) = 30.1% .................. {{36.0%}}
Level 2 (D) = 21.4% ........................... {{23.0%}}
Level 1 (clueless) = 29.8% ................... {{23.2%}}

... there is likely a lot of deception of students taking place when the SPS issues Algebra grades and grants credits .... The deception is likely the same statewide.... -- The k-8 Math Plan that has few if any effective interventions and nearly universal social promotion is NOT working.

The Board has chosen not to fix anything preferring the "FIX" instead. ... The Board chose to never enforce the Promotion/Non-Promotion policies that required effective interventions ... and then abandon the policy. Holly Ferguson's Action Report on that one was another masterpiece of logic ... the Policy is not working and the policy is not used so it needs replacement. (WOW Holly perhaps the reason it did not work was that it was never used?)
SP said…
A friend of Seattle,
You are right, partially- all except for your last sentence,
"Cleveland is STILL offering the same 150 hours this year as they did last year".

Cleveland has NOT offered 150 hours with the 8 credits/year schedule- its impossible (much less deducting for all the extra site-based professional development early dismissals they have). They need the waiver because they don't offer 150 hours (and then they can dump the fake ALE classification that they originally took because they didn't want to provide 150 hours in the first place).

The 150 hour waiver has nothing to do with the ALE standing (except that now with the waiver the school can revert back to a traditional school and stop the 10% loss of FTE funds that ALE's have to face).

My question is, how does Cleveland (and Middle College) officially get out of the ALE classification for FTE funding?
dan dempsey said…
Correction to above:

{{[[One solution would be to give 0.85 credits per 127.5 hours of instruction. 32 courses at CHS would still give 27.5 credits for graduation.]]}}

32 courses at CHS would then give 27.5 credits for graduation instead of the current 32 ....

Comprehensive SPS high school grant 24 credits per four years of course completion. These meet the 150 hour / credit requirement.
Charlie Mas said…
I had to re-write this post and these comments several times to remove the vulgar expletives.

This kind of ineptitude and blockheadedness gets me all worked up and frothing at the mouth.

The District is having the FACMAC work on Program Development and Placement, but have not advised them of the District's Program Development and Placement policy. Has FACMAC been told about the District's Capacity Management Policy? Has FACMAC been told about the District's Advisory Committee policy? Has anyone suggested to FACMAC that their work is guided or constrained - in any way - by policy?

The total and universal neglect of policy throughout Seattle Public Schools leaves me gobsmacked. It makes me wonder why the Board makes any effort to write it. Not even the lazy wave at policies the Board has committed of late isn't justified if the policies are never read, followed, or enforced.
Anonymous said…

Thanks for the clarification. Yes, that's what I meant to say is that Cleveland didn't have 150 hours and that's why they need a waiver but it's not like they are reducing their hours.

As for ALE, I believe the Board will approve the ALE programs next week. If a school is not ALE then it is expected that they meet all the requirements of a normal school unless they receive a waiver from OSPI. It looks like the District is playing it safe by having Cleveland as an ALE and also applying for the waiver. I assume that if the waiver is successful then a step is needed to make them "un"ALE.

A friend of Seattle
Anonymous said…
That's okay Charlie, no need to apologize. sigh....

Eric B said…
What drives me mad is when the activists start assuming that District management is incompetent*. Before you go into total stone-throwing rhetorical question mode, you might get some information. FACMAC reviewed and made significant comments on the Capacity Management Policy draft. We spent a fair amount of time on that and we did get both the charter for the FACMAC and the policy on advisory committees.

No, we didn't have the Program Placement policy. On the other hand, we had free rein to make suggestions. Would you rather that a committee charged with finding creative solutions be boxed in at the beginning of the process, or that they be free to brainstorm? Some of the ideas proposed (including a couple of mine) didn't stand up to scrutiny. That's the point of the process--get ideas, then vet them.

Special Ed program moves were suggested in a few cases. In every case, we looked at what we thought was best for the students and the schools that they were going to/from.

* Some people at JSCEE have not done a good job, IMHO. A lot more are making the best of a bad situation left by senior management who have largely been moved out the door.
Charlie Mas said…
Eric B, I suggest that you read the Program Placement policy. It does not in any way constrain the superintendent's absolute authority to unilaterally make any program placement decision she wishes to make. In fact, it re-affirms it.

Free rein. No boxes.

The policy does, however, require transparency. Does transparency constrain the FACMAC?
peonypower said…
Physical science does have a course of study. This was the original task of the alignment committee from 2 years ago- align what was once "integrated science" with the new state standards and define what should and should not be taught in the now newly named "physical science" course.

Both integrated science and physical science have been taught for years - YEARS- without a decent textbook. This was one of the reasons behind working on alignment get the teachers together who teach this class and have them hash out what is taught. The smart next move would have been to allow those same teachers to collaborate on labs, tests, etc, but hey that levy money was coming so why bother using the smarts of teachers on the ground to make physical science into a solid course. Nah- better to buy a book. So the district took this work and then botched it on the proposed science alignment from last year.

So really the physical science class has existed for a long time, and if the district is really serious about making it a course that is taught well across the district it will help teachers work together to that end. Will the district do this. I doubt it. Cathy Thompson does not have the experience at high school to understand what should be done and she is working totally above her experience level. The physical science course at my school is strong because the 4 teachers who teach that class all share our work and help each other to design labs and obtain equipment. So the "no curriculum" story is really crap from the district. The class has been taught without district support for years.
Jan said…
Thank you, peonypower!

I do not understand why it is so hard for Cathy (or anyone else at the District) to look around, figure out the group of teachers that really has a handle on doing this course well, plunk them on a committee (with whomever else should be there) and get on with recommending texts, etc.

THIS is what drives me crazy -- that we have all this local, "home grown" expertise -- at our fingertips -- begging to be put to use doing the one key, singular thing that is the District's mission -- helping kids learn -- and yet, and yet -- we don't use it. AAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHHH.

Charlie -- would it be "governance" for the board to go to Dr. E and ask her to work with existing District experts (like the science teachers) to develop some of this stuff? Instead of hiring high priced, big ed reform "consultants" to come in and drop down on us the latest expensive, yearly-consummables, unsound but beloved curriculum/text series?
Charlie Mas said…
Jan asked:
"would it be "governance" for the board to go to Dr. E and ask her to work with existing District experts (like the science teachers) to develop some of this stuff?"

No, Jan, that would be a case of the Board stepping over the line and telling the superintendent how to do her job. They should refrain from that sort of micro-management.

They could, however, in the name of management oversight, ask her what she spent on consultants and ask her what other methods she considered. They could certainly express their disappointment with the delays and lack of progress.
Charlie Mas said…
Jan and others will note that the Board has stepped away from their duty to monitor the implementation of the Strategic Plan. Were they still doing that work, they could use it as a context to ask "Why isn't this work done yet?"
Jan said…
Thanks, Charlie. I was assuming that was the answer. But I guess you are right. What they really need to do is govern through the budget approval (or not) process, ask thoughtful and insightful questions, and -- in the end -- if they think that her management style costs too much and delivers too little (or delivers the wrong stuff), they should seek to replace her with someone who will manage the District better.

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