Is It the Dawn of a New Day in SPS? I Think So

I attended part of the Board retreat last Saturday and part of the (kind of funny) School Board meeting last night.  If you've been around this district awhile, you could definitely feel a change. 

 Board Retreat

At the Board retreat, all the Board members were there as well as Susan Enfield, Noel Treat, Ron English, an Alliance coordinator and a facilitator (brought in by the Alliance).   What I really liked about this retreat came in two parts; one - every Board member had the opportunity to make a statement and two - the facilitator, for once, was just there to move the meeting along and stay on point (and did not, to me, seem to be guiding the discussion). 

Michael DeBell spoke first as he was the interim Board president.  He was fairly serious and said that that day was not about specifics but to think broadly and to find common ground.   He also correct the Alliance person who had said the Board had "effective" new policies and said they had them but it had not yet been shown they were effective.  Good point.  He did say, "I believe that all the tools we need for profound change and good governance, we already have." 

He said their authority was over policy, budget, oversight, appoint/evaluate the Superintendent, approve collective bargaining agreements and the power of advocacy.

He said their authority was derived from the Board as a whole and not individually.  "Nothing has force until we vote."  

He got a laugh from everyone (except one notable person who I'll address later) when he said that they all value community engagement.  He said there was nothing like "putting ideas out and having people rip them apart."  

He then asked each member about the opportunities and challenges they saw for this Board.

Sharon Peaslee said the opportunity and the challenge was the same; to meet the needs of all students and that it should come from the classroom up.  She said the district needed to not be driven by a national agenda and should be run in a pragmatic and practical way.   Michael pressed her on the issue of top-down decisions.  She gave the example of principal appointments and pointed out that the Board has a legal right to be involved and she felt there should be an appeal process to the Board. 

Marty McLaren said she had felt very welcomed.  She said, "I'm aware it could have not felt nice."  She pointed out (and I didn't know this) that she had lived in a co-housing community for the last 17 years and knew what it meant to work through community process and come to joint decisions.    She said she had listened to Susan's address and liked the vision of everyone being known, challenged and cared for.  She said she believed that "safe and stable" should be in that vision as well.  She also likes the theme of Mercer Middle School which is "the joy of teaching and learning."

Sherry Carr also agreed that the biggest challenge/opportunity was to improve outcomes for all students.  Sherry really making an effort to the new members and it showed.

Betty Patu said that she felt they were rushing through the Board policy work too quickly and that she had felt, at several times over the last two years, that staff wasn't listening to her. 

Kay Smith-Blum said that she viewed the capacity crisis as an opportunity to change the delivery model with more "creative approach" schools. 

And then there was Director Martin-Morris.  Basically, he was dour, cold and non-responsive.   He spent the entire time of Michael's opening remarks staring at the table.  He did not laugh or smile at any of the times when others did.  He spent two minutes on how own remarks "we need teachers and principals to be culturally aware and culturally competent." 

This was not just my opinion.  There were several other people observing - it was not a big room and it was quite noticeable.  Everyone else was showing listening behavior - leaning in, taking notes, nodding, etc. - but not Harium.   I have no idea why he behaved in this manner (almost like "why am I here?  I know all this.) but frankly, I found it off-putting and I'm not even a Board member.

Susan Enfield was also given the opportunity to speak and said she was quite unhappy that Betty had felt staff had ignored her.  She said that she would review the communications policy with staff vis a vis the Board. 

I left after the lunch break.  I felt the discussions about policy were going well and, except for Harium, everyone was behaving in a collegial manner. 

School Board Meeting

The vibe here was pretty relaxed for a first meeting after the induction of new and re-elected members.  Marty and Sharon sat where Peter and Steve had been seated previously (although this will likely change).   Dr. Enfield sported a new bob haircut (very flattering) and Michael DeBell was careful to try to walk more slowly through the process for the benefit of Sharon and Marty.

The first speaker - a student from Garfield - petitioned the Board to adopt state policy on private funds being raised at a school to be given to a non-profit.  State law allows this but the ASB policy does not.  The Board does not have its own policy on this issue and he urged that they adopt the state policy.  He said that several clubs at Garfield exist to help charities like poor families in Africa, a girls' school in Nambia (I think), etc.  He said there was oversight in place to make sure the money went to where it should.

Chris Jackins spoke on several issues.  He said he was disturbed that the Board was okaying policies without Superintendent procedures also being established which he likened to putting the cart before the horse.  He also argued against the Oaktree shopping center lease (the district owns that property) at a price of $350k per year.  (I thought that seemed low as well.  It's a big property in a good location.  The district action report seemed to say they couldn't do better but this is a 5-year lease.) 

(Apparently, later on in the meeting, Sharon and Kay were asking if they could break the lease on Oaktree and build there.  Ron English said they had Wilson-Pacific which already had a field.)

I spoke about the need to make clear to everyone how BEX IV was going to be different from other renovation programs because of capacity management.  I also pointed out that the district really should forget how BEX decisions can ripple out.  (See building a new place for South Shore - not in the oldest, worst building - and NOT building for Pathfinder.  That caused the district to close Cooper, scatter those kids and move Pathfinder into Cooper's building.  Think what the landscape of West Seattle capacity might look like today if Pathfinder had received the new building.) 

I also pointed out that the district seems to be saying one thing and doing something else.  I pointed out the example of creating an Advanced Learning Taskforce while wholesale changes were going on at Wedgwood and Lawton.  I pointed out how great Mercer was doing but that was basically because they went off-script. 

A couple of Hawthorne parents got up to advocate for the building.  They worry over reopening a building nearby and putting in an attractive program which would weaken their school.   They are trying to create a STEAM program at Hawthorne (with the A for arts).  I've asked them to send me more info their efforts. 

PTSA Board members from RBHS also came to advocate for their building and to try to correct some misinformation about RBHS (they had some very good test growth data). 

In the middle here, Michael stopped the proceedings to explain there was a burning plastic odor coming from the ceiling above the dais.   They suspended the meeting while techs went up and looked around.  They did find something melted, fixed it but could not safely turn the lights back on so they rigged lights around the dais which made the Board look like crime suspects.  Kind of a funny time.

I did learn one interesting piece of info from one speaker, Caryn Swan-Jamero , a childcare provider manager who said that childcare spaces could NOT legally be moved into gyms and cafeterias (for example, before or after school).  

Tracy Sconyers, a Wedgwood parent, laid out a timeline of the issues around Spectrum and the frustration felt there by many parents. 

The Superintendent didn't have much in her comments section.  She did say that the district was aware of what was happening at Mercer (I think she thought was they were doing got perceived as being on the downlow from the district.)

Most of the Directors remarks were to welcome Marty and Sharon.  Sherry let people know that Gerry Pollet was appointed to the seat vacated by the death of Scott White in the 46th. 

Then there were the Board elections.   Michael was elected Board President (again), Kay Smith-Blum was elected Vice-President and Betty Patu, Member-at-Large.  These will be the members of the Executive Committee.   Interesting fact; the Superintendent is the Secretary of the Board when the Board has to vote on items with vested interest for all. 

I had to leave so I was gathering up my things and Michael asked if this new officers wanted to make a statement.  I had almost made it to the door when Kay spoke.  She was quite blunt.  She said she had been very unhappy with the previous Superintendent and felt thwarted by previous staff.  She then went on to praise the Superintendent and her new team for their work.  (I can't see Kay voting for a search after those statements.) 

Michael, somewhat jokingly, said if the Superintendent had her own plan acronym, here was his:

v vision
o oversight
t transparency
e engagement


Couple this with the article in today's Times about the changing Board and you have a front-row seat for an all-new cast in an old show.  (I was pleased with my quote in the article and as for LEV's Chris Korsmo, well, it's what I would have expected her to say.)


Anonymous said…
Kay acts entitled. She didn't feel welcome by MGJ but is treated like a BFF by Enfield. Who cares?

Maybe she should spend less energy on how she is perceived and more on making decisions that follow the law and benefit children (see TfA).

--when is Kay's term up?
Carol Simmons said…
I thought two of the most interesting testimonies were from Dan Dempsey and Nick Esparza. Both of these speakers were in favor of a Superintednent search. I was disappointed in Jonathan Knapp's testimony and later told him so. I hope everyone watches a re run of the Board meeting and can judge for her/himself.......Melissa was correct about the atmosphere in the room being much friendlier....of course this was necessary as the Board had to leave the dais due to the potential fire but they seemed happy to mingle.
There was an audible gasp in the room when Dr. Enfield stated she knew what Mercer had been doing all along.
There was a flyer placed on the table about the importance of a Superintendent Search and there was also a handout on the proposed new student assignment Plan......which I find confusing, ...this document requires some study. The meeting did have a different "feel" to it. The new Board Directors seem to be welcomed and appear quite comfortable in their positions.

mirmac1 said…
I loved seeing the quiet advocates there (as opposed to the obnoxiously loud ones like yours truly), smiling and chatting because their candidates were now board members.

And KSB, she may want to be prez next year but over my dead body.
Jan said…
I would not sell Kay down the river so quickly. Her comments follow exactly what I have always perceived -- that Kay saw through the miasma of swamp slime that surrounded MGJ and her top cohort of cronies almost immediately -- that she went head to head with MJG (and lost) more than once -- because after all, who was MGJ to listen to an uppity board member -- when it was she, in all her Ed Reform glory -- who was supposed to be in control -- and that she worked very effectively with Susan Enfield to do damage control in a number of areas (Garfield enrollment, science curriculum, etc.). It is nut surprising under the circumstances that Kay feels the way she does.

I am not willing to concede (yet, at least) that Kay is not willing to listen to community voices when they "collide" with Dr. E's vision -- for workable, accessible waiver policies, etc. I do not in any way see that Kay has ever been enamored of, or in the pocket of, the Big Ed machine. She is perfectly capable, I think, of taking and holding her own position (something I worry about with both Sherrie and Harium). I was disappointed in her TfA vote -- thought her reasoning was ok -- but shallow (there was more to the issue, I think, than just polling a bunch of principals -- especially as many of them may have felt that they had to support the company line on TfA).

I think that if Kay seems to go on autopilot, she will need to be challenged to come up with credible support for her positions (other than -- well, District staff wants it) -- but just as DeBell has evolved in his thinking -- I think Kay has been (on balance) and is capable of continuing to be, a good board member.
Jan said…
not surprising -- it is "not" surprising. Sheesh. Unbelievable. Sorry.
Anonymous said…
Kay's TFA vote was straight out of the rubber stamping MGJ daze - my money is on her sticking with her social class of know it alls.

Hope I'm Wrong
Jan said…
Hope I'm Wrong -- of all her positions, that is the one that worries me the most. I hope you are wrong too -- but I can sure understand where your discomfort is coming from on that one.

I wonder if Kay has any clue how much damage she did to her credibility as a board member with that one.
anonymous said…
Kay Smith-Blum is IMO the sharpest, most balanced, visionary board director that we have. If you read her FB posts you will see how committed she is to education and innovation. She's not scared to go out on a limb, but is also not over the top radical. And that's what I like about her. She is doing a superb job and I am honored to have her on the board.

dan dempsey said…
HERE is my testimony from last night's meeting.

As for Dawning of an SPS NEW DAY ... I'll believe it when I see it.

At the state legislature in 2011 the WEA testified in support of Common Core..... CCSS actually hurts membership.... but membership was never consulted about this decision.

Last night Jonathan Knapp's support of Enfield smacked of WEA support for ed reform... Still looks like "cookin' from the TOP" to me.

The KSB, DeBell, Martin-Morris, and Carr..... support of TFA ... again smacked of support for Ed Reform.... none of those four ever responded to the BIG Legal Question ...When did the careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps occur? ..... Laws do not matter when the string pullers want something to happen... it happens.

The solution to USA's lagging in Education will come when Districts decide to use the proven practices used in high performing nations. Thus far the old board never made a decision to move in that evidence-based direction. {{Clearly Peaslee is interested in moving that direction}}

I bought several board members copies of Oki's Outrageous Learning .... Guess I should have purchased Hattie's "Visible Learning" for some. ... (never wasted my money on buying anything for Sundquist and Maier as they had ZERO interest in evidence)

Chris Stewart bought Ravitch's Book ... The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education for every school board member.

Peaslee and McLaren look to have an interest in doing what works rather than copying the "things that do not work". .. With Betty Patu that makes three.

I will believe that we have entered a new era ... when directors stop following the ED Reform Party Line .... so far there are some indications that DeBell and KSB might do that..... but it is a pretty big might.
dan dempsey said…
LH wrote:
She's (KSB) not scared to go out on a limb, but is also not over the top radical. And that's what I like about her.

KSB was my favorite director of all time ... for a while.

She confirmed her support for the BIG Money Boys with her TFA voting and failure to communicate on the WAC required careful review that she repeatedly chose to ignore.

Laws and policies are for chumps. ... They have little bearing on what happens in Education in WA State..... and where is the WA Supreme Court on the Full Funding of Education that was appealed by the state on June 28, 2011......

If this k-12 education really is the paramount duty of the state, wouldn't the Supreme Court move this to the front burner?
dan dempsey said…
KSB could instantly raise her Street Cred by submitting an Action Report to withdraw from TFA.
Anonymous said…
Kay Smith Blum was quoted in the ST Mercer article as stating that the methods being used were going on without the knowledge of the Central Administration.

Susan, realizing that the article made it look like she was asleep at the helm, reveals at the board meeting what Sue P. knew right away--that there had been a tacit approval to allow Mercer to be able to use the math materials that Enfield herself has forced upon the other schools (even though other schools are being punished for using non-inquiry materials).

Now, it looks like Kay wasn't informed by Susan and that makes Kay look clueless. Did her BFF speech about Susan come before or after Susan revealed her latest duplicity? Can anyone on the board continue to trust Susan after this latest revelation?

Kay was quoted one way in the article. Unless she was misquoted,
Susan just revealed that Kay was clueless, and stated it publicly in a newspaper article. Not a good way to treat your BFF.

--What's up?
Anonymous said…
should have been math materials that Enfield has forced other schools not to use

--what's up
lassen said…
I'm depressed by the "dawn of a new day" title of this original entry. I saw a very different meeting.

I saw a Superintendent publicly stating and smirking that she of course knew about the Mercer curriculum experiment for two years. But she failed to mention that, at the same time she was secretly approving Mercer, she was brow-beating other schools and traditional math advocates into using HER approved miserable curriculum instead. This admission of hers regarding Mercer should inspire outrage and mistrust.

So who's lying? The Seattle Times writer who said Mercer was operating without the knowledge of central admin? or Enfield who said last night that of course she knew all about it? Eiher way, she's a snake --

Think about it: If she DID know, and secretly approved Mercer, how terrible that she didn't open the same opportunity to other schools and parents who were begging for different curriculum.

If she DIDN'T know about Mercer, then she just publicly lied at a Board meeting -- again. Either way, disgust should be the message, not "dawn of a new day."

Johnathan Knapp's presentation was an abomination. He does not speak for the SEA members that I know. He had no business laying on the praise of Enfield without a directive from those he represents -- those of us on the ground. He is a sell-out and I can't wait until he is replaced.

It seems people are so easily impressed by "feelings" in a room. Those feelings are very easily manipulated -- a new haircut, a disarming chuckle over electrical problems -- then sneak in either a lie or an admission of allowing one school to use a curriculum that other schools are forbidden from using.

Give me good debate and good policy and good honesty and good forthrightness over good feeling any day.
Anonymous said…
Aren't KSM and SAE martini drinking buds?

I am very skeptical these days of both these people.

Well, I did say "dawn".

Believe me, I know those claps on the back and smiling faces. (In fact, I just heard the oldie "Smiling Faces" on the radio. Good advice.)

But Enfield knows that she is going to be watched like a hawk. I already called it out that Mercer went off-script in several ways.

They cannot keep allowing freedom to some schools while others are in a holding pattern. We have to keep in with relentless pressure - always.
Anonymous said…
I didn't see the testimony of knapp, so I don't know what he said.

However, the WEA / NEA is filling our inboxes with praises to Obama's speech in Kansas -

Remember Obama? He's the guy that gives those rip roaring inspiring wonderful speeches, and then turns around and makes back room deals keeping wall street thieves in charge - unless he's making back room deals with the 'health' care cartels ripping off the public.

Obama is the guy who just threw Pro-Choice women under the bus with his lousy Plan B decision yesterday (after throwing them under the bus with Stupak in the health care thing.) Supposedly, this was a sop to the moderates so the right wingers can't call him names or lie about him.

For decades Democratic political "leaders" have thrown their foundations under the bus because they were afraid that people who ... hate obama for being a baby killing Kenyan socialist usurper ... are going to lie!

It makes 'sense' that knapp is following the tried and true script of proven losers - his state and national bosses are. The thought that those who think all union members are lazy scum are going to see us as moderates, or that the ... 14 ? moderates will see us as lazy scum as moderates -

ask the pro-choice crowd how all these compromises work, compromises which start with you giving up 50% before you go to the table to lose another 50% ...

(does that mean I lost both halves ... I hate fractions, they're anti-conceptual.)

Is The Lottery The Only HOPE?
Anonymous said…
I doubt the legitimacy of this comment: "childcare spaces could NOT legally be moved into gyms and cafeterias".

Our school's program has been in the cafeteria (+gym, and playground) forever. Why would there be such a law, anyway?
mirmac1 said…

As I was reading your post, the Tuskegee Experiment immediately came to mind. Hard to believe that it's the aught 10's, not the 40's.

To what extent are those on the public dime, tasked to serve the most vulnerable, willing to bet it all on a "desired paradigm" ala Gates?

And lassen, I did not lose heart at the description of the feeling last night. I was there. I felt it. And after years of investing time, energy and $$ in this matter - I feel my investment is beginning to pay off. Not in any kind of gauranteed "Griffin donation-type" outcome, but in more of a "Lehman Brothers implodes" kind of way. The battle never ends, of course.
Anonymous said…
Tuskegee. You went there with this! Math text vs syphillis. You need to get a perspective.
Anonymous said…
You just trivialized history and people's pain. your point is lost to me. --an
Michael H said…
@mirmac1: "And KSB, she may want to be prez next year but over my dead body."

Wow. You think pretty highly of yourself.
dan dempsey said…
On the Tuskegee comment... the similarity is in the lack of consent for a damaging experiment.

Consider the school wide unmonitored math experiment run at Cleveland high school using Interactive Math Program materials from fall 2006 through spring 2009. There was no permission given for this experiment by the students (and apparently none is required). The results showed particularly poor results for Black students, which is exactly what would be expected from the practices used. {{That hardly makes it an experiment but more like the delivery of inadequate service.}}

Granted poor access to an inadequate education is not as damaging as untreated syphilis .... but one still needs to wonder about the SPS and UW math direction.

Here is a link to some of the controversy in the comments at Scientific American's article on Number Wars.

Cleveland had a 50% Black population and about 75% Low Income. The same program was also used at Garfield but not as widely spread.

This would never have been attempted at Roosevelt and the Tuskeegee experiment would not have been run North of the Ship Canal.
Michael H said…
@Post: "And then there was Director Martin-Morris. Basically, he was dour, cold and non-responsive. He spent the entire time of Michael's opening remarks staring at the table. He did not laugh or smile at any of the times when others did. He spent two minutes on how own remarks 'we need teachers and principals to be culturally aware and culturally competent.'"

Really, Harium??? That's the most important thing this district is facing? We're going to go back to the 'culturally aware' adn 'culturally competent" meme?? (In other words, playing the race card.) How much money did the District waste on diversity consultants in the last few years? Probably thousands. I think they even brought in a guy who is reputed to be a race hustler - coming in and telling all the white teachers that they are racists only because they are white, and pitching a book. And that doesn't include the thousands they spent on the Race and Equity department before they abolished it.

Harium is certainly the moron almighty.
TraceyS said…
"I doubt the legitimacy of this comment: "childcare spaces could NOT legally be moved into gyms and cafeterias".

Our school's program has been in the cafeteria (+gym, and playground) forever. Why would there be such a law, anyway?"

The rules for operating a licensed preschool center that serves children under 6 years are different than those for elementary-aged kids. There are more stringent requirements for handwashing facilities, food prep, diaper changing and potty areas, indoor play space requirement, etc.

My children's preschool moved into a new facility just before we started, and there were quite a few rules that the Dept of Health insisted upon before we could use the space. I do not doubt for a moment that a preschool cannot be moved around as easily as an after school program. Very different regs.
mirmac1 said…
Well Michael H. I can't compete with your supercilious tone. Perhaps you are so literal you don't get figures of speech.

What happened at Tuskegee happens everyday around us. Rationed or inferior health care, crappy and neglected school buildings in poor parts of town, disabled children in wheelchairs forced to eat in a classroom so that they don't disturb the "normals". The mentally-ill forced to sleep under bridges in 30 degree temperatures. African-american boys placed in barren EBD classrooms with long-term subs learning NOTHING.

The pain of the 40' is the pain of the aught 10's. It just takes a different shape. You have your analogies. I have mine.
dan dempsey said…
Oh spare me PLEASE....

"to be culturally aware and culturally competent." ....

Hey how about some concern with actual results.... rather that just politically correct BS.

Harium is the guy who told the fairytale about New Tech Hillsdale in Durham, NC and the number of kids going into AP Calculus etc. .... while ignoring the fact that the school was a huge under-performer on State testing.... rated at level 2 out of 7 ... just like the less expensive to run regular Durham high School.

Sorry but Harium's anecdotes should not trump State data.... and there was a huge contradiction in this case ....

The vote for the $800,000 New Tech network contract was 4-3 with the $500,000 four being the "4".

An analysis of the extensive data I sent the Board showed that the NTN schools were serious under-performers. So Harium spins a tale and now comes back with cultural competency and awareness as being needed.

What is needed are instructional materials and practices known to work.... but Harium votes to buy those that DO NOT work ... because his job is to be the Central Admin's rubber-stamp replacing Cheryl Chow in the 4-3 voting.

Let us try this: To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data and the profusion of unsupported anecdotes just DO NOT cut it.
dan dempsey said…
YES I am really Steamed with Harium and Sherry for rubber-stamping the NTN contract and tossing away $800,000.

---- From the legal brief

The Cleveland project design team chose to show a promotional video of NT Sacramento, a mature implementation of NTN, for the Saturday, January 23, 2010 Open House to promote Cleveland STEM.

They included no data of academic performance. NT Sacramento had abysmal performance in mathematics and could hardly be viewed as a model for a school where Calculus would be a requirement.

Only 3 of 50 students were able to score Basic or above Basic on End of Course Testing in Advanced Algebra (2009). The California school rating of high schools done from student testing revealed that NT Sacramento’s API number (Academic Performance Index) had been declining annually 6, 5, 4, 3, beginning in 2005.

(6) In regard to proven track record of cohort of students that have graduated: the Action Report stated the graduation rate at NT Sacramento was at 98% and highest of all Sacramento California high schools but graduation statistics calculated from cohort numbers (as per action report direction of 2/2/10) revealed the graduation cohort number was 37% and 44% of original 2004 and 2005 9th grade class sizes. Both rates were substantially lower than for several Sacramento high schools. (Kennedy and McClatchy cohorts both were at or above 60% from 2003 through 2005 for entering 9th grade classes.)

(7) NT Napa’s math performances were worse than the regular high school in Napa although NT Napa has much more favorable student demographics, with 18% low-income vs. 44% low-income.

(8) The point about a proven record in establishing high technology high schools should include assessment of students’ success or lack thereof in academic performance. BizTech in Portland, NT Welby in Colorado, NT Sacramento and others certainly call any claim to a proven record of success into serious question. Note many NTN schools were opened recently. These three are established NTN schools and information about their lack of success was provided to the school directors.

dan dempsey said…
From NT Welby in Colorado:
(1) Cohort math scores decline from grade 9 to grade 10. Grade 10 scores range from 1% to 8% proficient, while the state average is 30%.
(2) Reading score in 2009 = 36% while State average was 67%
(3) Writing score in 2009 = 14% while State average was 51%

Director Martin-Morris made reference to New Technology Hillsdale High School in the Durham School District in North Carolina. He believed this school to be an example of a successful New Tech School that had started recently but he had no hard data to confirm his impressions.

He talked about how many students were going to enter into calculus next year and said all seniors will be in calculus and some juniors. He mentioned that the school Hillsdale New Tech was 91% African American.

Unfortunately when the statistics are examined from the State of North Carolina this school looks similar to other New Tech Schools. Hillsdale NT did not make adequate yearly progress and was classified as a priority school placing it in the bottom 19% of North Carolina schools. It has 44% Low-income students. Interestingly the Regular Hillsdale High School is in the same situation did not make AYP and is classified as a priority school. It has 56% Low-income students. Here is some relevant data from school year 2008-2009 from the North Carolina End of Course tests. Percent of students at or above grade level.

...... Algebra : Geometry : Algebra II :Low Income %
Hillsdale New Tech: 19.7% : 58.1% : 40.0% : 43.9
Hillsdale Reg. HS .: 35.5% : 47.2% : 43.4% : 56.3
Durham District : 46.8% : 46.8% : 51.6% : 49.0
State of North Carolina : 67.7% : 73.3% :73.3% :__

Here the Seattle District and Director Martin-Morris failed to weigh all the evidence and made a decision based on what someone hoped might work rather than what the evidence showed was very likely to happen.

Cleveland has wisely been teaching algebra for 85 minutes per day everyday to counteract the damaging effects of Project Based Learning...

State Low Income pass rate for grade 9 algebra students = 43.8% passing with 30.8% at level 1

Cleveland Low Income pass rate for grade 9 algebra students = 50.4% passing with 30.9% at level 1

In Geometry for Low Income 10th graders
the state pass rate is 56.7%
with 14% at level 1.

Geometry results at Cleveland with Geometry taught 85 minutes per day ....
10th grade Low income students
pass rate = 53%
with 18.6% at level 1

So to summarize the $1.2 million Discovering Math adoption and the $800,000 NTN contract when coupled with Geometry for 85 minutes per day produced slightly worse results than the state .... and Harium wants to talk about cultural awareness and cultural competence ..... How about mathematical competence and how to make intelligent instructional materials and practices choices? .... So the SBE would like to have Algebra II as a HS graduation requirement (which is insane) and with 85 minute algebra periods 31% of Low Income Algebra students are at level 1 the clueless level at Cleveland... this 31% is also the state average for low income 9th graders in Algebra.
dan dempsey said…
And remember this $800,000 NTN fiasco was from Susan Enfield CAO lead staff person....

Here are the highly inaccurate action reports=>
SB Action Report #1 and the redo SBAR #2 ....

NTN = Oh NO you must be kidding

It took all of 90 seconds to look up the basics of NTN practices in Hattie's Visible Learning and realize this was an awful idea. So where was the Cleveland Staff and Dean Catherine Brown and the CHS Principal ... more research and less cheerleading is needed.
dan dempsey said…
School Board meeting on Feb 3, 2010...

Here is a YouTube Video of Professional Engineer Paul Dunham (who also has a teaching credential for high school math) addressing the New Tech Network product.

According to Paul:
SPS is an Easy mark for EDU-Gymics.
NTN has no STEM professionals ...

Seems Enfield did very little research and bought edu-jargon rather than evaluating results from the NTN product. Data easily available online from California contradicts what Admin is reporting to the Board.
Carol Simmons said…
In my opinion, Director Martin Morris and Mr. Dan Dempsey's goals are not mutually exclusive. "Cultural competency" is absolutely necessary for successful schools as are "actual results." Because the District (Board and Superintendent)did not do a careful review of all of the options for closing the achievement gap they were professionally and legally irresponsible. They claimed they had done this review in order to hire TfA recruits. This was dishonest and wrong and hurts students, especially those who are the most vulnerable and underserved. Additionally, the selection of instructional materials by the Board (upon which Director Martin-Morris sits) should have been based on practices that are known to work. I know of no one in this District who has more expertise in effective Math curriculum and command of the data which reports the inequities in Math than Dan Dempsey. And the District has not listened or learned from repeated presentations of relevant data. This is incomprehensible and Board votes have hurt students both academically and culturally. However, I do not believe that Harium Martin-Morris has played the "race card" what ever that term means and that he is absolutely correct that cultural awareness and competency is necessary. Mathematical/Academic competence and cultural awareness competence are both desperately needed and not mutually exclusive. One does not need to trump the other. These goals can and should and hopefully will work in concert for all of our students in all of our Schools.

anonymous said…
"And after years of investing time, energy and $$ in this matter - I feel my investment is beginning to pay off."

So let me get this straight. It's OK for Mirimac to give $$ to to a cause she/he believes in, but not OK for Gates or others? Sounds like a double standard to me.

Anonymous said…
Ms. Simmons you made an good point that while the two are not the same, they are not mutually exclusive. However, if Mirimac believes the denial of syphilis treatment to men and and thereby letting these people die prematurely, in pain, and go on to infect their wives and children is comparable to denying Saxon math usage to middle school children, then yes, we will have more Tuskegees.

And this analaogy does illustrate the need for cultural competency. People do need to be careful when pulling pages out of the history book whether it is about Tuskegee, death panel, genocide, Nanking rape to illustrate their point. If you have treated people with syphilis and other forms of STDs, who have been raped and mutilated, then this kind of analogy will strike a live nerve (worse if people have experienced this and yes, there are those within Seatlle refugee community who have). Go down to Alabma, you will find folks through their oral history who can tell you their personal family story.

You may find a slender thread of similarity if you look hard enough and it's your free speech dime you are using. But I think if the goal is to win people's mind, it failed and not a worthy tactic. Personally, I agree that Saxon, Singapore math and other more effective math texts should be allowed.

Seattle mom
Eric B said…
I wouldn't be too quick to assume that KSB will vote to give Enfield a 3-year contract. I think Enfield really shot herself in the foot with the "I won't participate in a search" declaration. She could have said something slightly more nuanced "I understand you want to conduct a search, but of course you'll understand that I'll have to put my name out there as well, and I'll have to take the best offer I get." That would have boxed the Board in without sounding unreasonable.

Kay comes from the business community. I've never worked for her, but she's clearly been successful. Successful business people have to separate emotions from business decisions. They can like someone a lot and still fire them.
mirmac1 said…
Perhaps more of the "Mercer method" in the SE would slow down the Schools to Prison pipeline? No, it's not just math, it's respect for the child, resources, capacity, and pride:

"The “school-to-prison pipeline” refers to the policies and practices that push our nation’s schoolchildren, especially our most at-risk children, out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. This pipeline reflects the prioritization of incarceration over education.

Failing Public Schools

For most students, the pipeline begins with inadequate resources in public schools. Overcrowded classrooms, a lack of quali­fied teachers, and insufficient funding for “extras” such as counselors, special edu­cation services, and even textbooks, lock students into second-rate educational envi­ronments. This failure to meet educational needs increases disengagement and dropouts, increasing the risk of later court­involvement. Even worse, schools may actually encourage dropouts in response to pressures from test-based accountability regimes such as the No Child Left Behind Act, which create incentives to push out low-performing students to boost overall test scores."
Jet City mom said…
Think about it: If she DID know, and secretly approved Mercer, how terrible that she didn't open the same opportunity to other schools and parents who were begging for different curriculum.

I agree
dj said…
mirmac1, have you read Breaking Schools' Rules? It is an eye-opening report on school suspensions and expulsions in TX. If you haven't, I thought you would be interested:
dan dempsey said…
Do you remember the game of BS?

In our neighborhood

#1 Someone makes a statement
#2 Participants evaluate it for truth and if thought to be untrue call "BS".
#3 Original author of the statement must prove it true or lose a point.
I call BS on Susan Enfield .....

There was an audible gasp in the room when Dr. Enfield stated she knew what Mercer had been doing all along.

If this is so, isn't it her responsibility to keep the Board informed?

Since Dr. Enfield is not present to defend against my BS call.... let us call in KSB ... on Video:

On Feb 10, 2011 at the Townhall, CR Douglas asked KSB directly: What produced the success at Mercer MS? How can it be replicated at other schools?

KSB never even hinted that different instructional materials were being used at Mercer. Melissa's school board testimony about Mercer stated Mercer went off script to produce success and this was unknown to School Board members.

Here is confirmation of Melissa's claim. It is confirmed by KSB right YouTube HERE.
Well, Kay said, at the SEattle Channel Town Hall, that Mercer was NOT following the Strategic Plan. So she knew they were going off-script. I don't know how many Board members knew or didn't know but the point is Mercer did and Dr. Enfield says she knew it and well, why Mercer and not others?
dan dempsey said…
Here is exactly what Enfield said.
YouTube12-7-2011 Board meeting (35 seconds).
dan dempsey said…
It seems that what is needed is a Dawn of a New Day in the SEA.... without J. Knapp

Try a little compare and contrast in regard to Susan Enfield in the following two consecutive testimonies.

Knapp follows Dempsey at the Board meeting
YouTube 6 minutes.

Whose interests does the SEA VP represent?
Hard to believe that SEA members have J. Knapp for representation. I would think that SPS Central Admin was paying J. Knapp's salary.
dan dempsey said…
Why isn't Knapp calling for the District to withdraw from TFA?

My guess is because he is trained by WEA and WEA leaders are still on the Ed Reform bandwagon.

Hey Jonathan what about the SEA members interests?
Anonymous said…
You said it Dan
J. Knapp does not represent the SEA, and it is frustrating for him to throw a love fest for S. Enfield as if every teacher is at the love fest with him. The mantra J. Knapp uses at meetings is "you are the union" when people are frustrated with union leadership decisions, and I say the day has come for union members to flex that muscle and demand a superintendent search. See you Monday folks

ready for a fight
Jan said…
When I read all the "if Mercer can have it -- why cant we" comments, I start to get all nervous -- because that is the sort of thing that makes bureaucrats sigh, roll their eyes, and say -- no exceptions, ever -- because then EVERYONE will want one.

Then I realize how bizarre that sounds. If "everyone" wants one (probably not true, unfortunately), what would THAT mean? Would it maybe mean that huge chunks of the teachers and families want to bail on discovery math in favor of something that works better? Something else -- that actually facilitates kids LEARNING math. Wouldn't it mean that -- at a MINIMUM -- waivers ought to be available for ANY school that wants one?

Going further -- if a third, or half, or more of the schools want waivers -- what does that say about the District's selected curriculum? Wouldn't it mean that perhaps at a MINIMUM, the District should have two "approved" alternatives -- one being something like Singapore (or maybe Saxon, but I actually like Singapore better) -- but with added elements that put the math into context -- allow students to work with it in situations where they can use it in context (the sort of stuff 'discovery' math is supposed to do); and the other being CMP -- with added enhancements that permit/encourage teachers to make sure kids actually master concepts -- rather than just "sort of" discovering them and noodling around with them, in groups, for a while?

I cannot fathom how it is that the District thinks it is fair to grade teachers on student improvement -- if the teachers are not free to use the teaching methods that they think will work best!
dan dempsey said…
Bingo Jan .... you nailed it. "waivers OMG"

Interestingly when Enfield wrote her list of 20 goals that the Board approved as an evaluation instrument on October 19 ... in a one meeting intro/action because again this was another thing not done on time. It contained three items with a "*" which were to be used as criteria that could be useful in a decision to evaluate Susan Enfield as permanent Superintendent.

Here are the three that could be used for the permanent superintendent decision =>

10. (*) Convene a district/community task force to review discipline practices and reduce rates of long-term, out-of-school suspensions.
11. (*) Develop an instructional materials waiver policy.
12. (*) Develop and implement an intermediate capacity management plan and proposed long-term planning to manage increasing enrollment.

In regard to 11 ... that "instructional materials waiver policy" is still a train wreck.
dan dempsey said…
Instructional Waivers

So we finally got a look at this Policy. There are several key elements to this policy (I'm not going through the obvious academic ones):

1) Indicate how the school staff and community has been involved in making the recommendation to use alternative basic instructional materials, including information on how the school-based decision matrix was used in this process; and

I don't know this term "school-based decision matrix." Does anyone else? Also, I wonder if a principal really wasn't interested or didn't want to do this, what recourse would teachers/parents have?

2) Identify school-based or grant funding that will be used to support the purchase, upkeep, professional development and training on these materials

This is a big issue. It was said that the principal could use his/her "discretionary" money (how much could that be any one school) or someone could write a grant (but you might need grant money every year so that's an issue) or the PTA could raise funds. So you could have a principal at a low-achieving school who desperately wants to try something new but has a Sophie's choice between an elementary school counselor or this new method. Or you have a school that has a principal who doesn't know how to write a grant and has a small PTA.

Meaning, it would seem that better off schools would be more likely to be able to gain a waiver than poorer schools. It would seem to me that the district is creating a policy that is not accessible to many.

3) Schools for which a waiver is granted must take all relevant district and state assessments and must show gains on those assessments for all segments of their population in order to continue using the alternative basic instructional materials. If gains are not made other multiple years, the waiver may be revoked and the school will be required to return to district-adopted basic instructional materials.

The "for all segments of their population" was added by Director Martin-Morris and has that NCLB-feel to it. I'm not disagreeing as there is no number attached to it but, again, for some schools with more challenging populations, it might be a difficult bar.

Also, the policy says it goes from the principal to the EX Director. It is reviewed and a recommendation made to the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning. That gets reviewed and then those two recommendations go to the Superintendent. The Superintendent's decision is final (with no appeal).

Peter pointed out there wasn't language about existing waiver schools, period of time for a waiver or newly opened schools.

Betty then asked, "What if more than half the schools asked for this?"

It was kind of funny to see everyone look around the table. Kathy Thompson quickly said that it was the Superintendent's decision and Holly Ferguson said they hadn't had a a lot of inquiries and if there was interest, they would have asked.

I had to smile. Of course there aren't inquiries. One, the district hasn't exactly been open to this idea and I'm sure that got transmitted to principals. Two, there is NO policy so no one has any idea of how to ask.

Harium said Betty's point was valid and Peter said it was the Superintendent's decision.

I left after this discussion.


As reported by Melissa Westbrook at the Dec 1, 2011 Curriculum and Instruction meeting.
dan dempsey said…
Here is my testimony from 10-19-2011 on the Superintendent's evaluation instrument. A tool that is extremely weak and of little value for evaluating anything.

I should note that once again a court disregarded the law RCW 28A 645.020 as written and did not hold the district accountable for failing to provide a certified correct transcript of evidence.
dan dempsey said…
Links to the Action Report on Superintendent evaluation...

Superintendent Evaluation Instrument
Action Report HERE.

Jan said…
I need help here. I am having a hard time keeping my eye on the "long term" ball in our newly dawning day. There is a cliche that says -- When you are in a hole (and want to get out), the FIRST thing you have to do is stop digging.

The school district has been in a deep hole for a decade. Much as I dislike MGJ, massive amounts of downtown dysfunction existed long before she came. Her biggest problem was that she promptly grabbed a shovel and furiously dug even faster.

But she is gone, and I DO think it's a "new day." But the problem is -- to get out of the hole, the District will have to stop lying, refusing to produce data, etc. etc. etc. As Charlie has pointed out, in many areas (EXCEPT curriculum and learning), Dr. E has done a good job of -- stopping digging, and maybe even filling in a few inches of the hole.

Tonight's ST article by Brian Rosenthal leads as follows: "A decade after Seattle Public Schools administrators built a central headquarters with a promise it would pay for itself, the district acknowledged Monday it still owes nearly $50 million on the building and has no serious plan for how to pay for it."

The Board says it has four options:
1. use general fund money (the stuff we actually are supposed to use to buy books, pay teachers, etc.),
2. use up to $18MM of maintenance money (but there is that pesky $500MM backlog -- plus schools that need to be reopened;
3. ask the voters for levy money -- but with many of the worst liars gone, they cannot convince themselves that voters would line up to vote yes.
4. And the fourth one almost made me weep -- paraphrased, it was "think of some other way to get a lot of money."

I sort of want to channel Antigone here, and just do total despair. But in some senses -- this is the stuff you have to go through when huge chunks of your downtown management is inept, corrupt, or otherwise dysfunctional (not all of them, I know, not all). So while it feels beyond horrible, this had to happen. These facts all existed for the past 3 MGJ years -- when we were revising policies so we could sell schools for a pittance, rather than to the highest bidder, and could spend money on small business programs, and zillions of coaches, and closing schools to vote to reopen them less than a year later -- and on and on.

Now that the Board is finally getting some answers on stuff -- how many more surprises like this are there out there? Whatever they are -- bring 'em on, I guess. Because we can't get out of this hole until we stop lying, dissembling, prevaricating, refusing to do the financial work necessary to figure out the waste. But gosh, I hope there aren't too many more.
Jan said…
And I -- who want a Superintendent search -- have to say -- I do not think Duggan's report would EVER have been produced under MGJ and Kennedy. I don't know anything, but I have to think that the personnel changes Dr. E has brought to the finance department have been instrumental in daylighting this.
mirmac1 said…
Who's to say, Jan. I'll bet board members did not press hard enough during the MGJ dark ages.

WV: gedemn it!
Jan said…
Interesting question, mirmac: Sherris is certainly claiming that she wanted it, and the article made it seem like it had been discussed (as something that was needed) for some time -- though not on MY radar. But thorough reporting of stuff that MGJ didn't feel like doing just never seemed to "get done" -- even when the board asked. This clearly took longer, and was harder, than staff had anticipated -- but evidently somebody -- either insisted (or facilitated a diligent employee who wanted to) that the data be tracked down. Somehow, I have a feeling that there may be at least one other sizeable "horrible problem" and that it is likely to be somewhere in Human Resources. Hope I am wrong.
mirmac1 said…
As I just posted in the quick thread about long threads, it shouldn't take an act of Congress (or the Board in this case) for accounting professionals to do their job. The Moss-Adams report clearly laid out the deficiencies in the accounting and finance department that exposed the district to tremendous risk.

Just as an aside, a similar thing happened to the Port of Seattle three years ago. Nobody watching the ball. The result is a $30M increase in capital construction costs. Did heads roll? No.

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