Public Testimony at the Board Meeting

You can watch the Public Testimony portion of the School Board meeting here.

Director DeBell respects the courage it took NOVA students to talk about trans youth and gender identification. What a shame that it takes courage.

Chris Jackins did a good job of shaming the Board for how their minds get foggy when members of the public speak for three minutes but can hold up as the Alliance for Education and the Gates Foundation speak for hours. He also shamed them for the astonishing and grotesque cost overruns on the Garfield renovation and the District's efforts to sweep those cost overruns under the rug.

Everything Dan Dempsey said was right, which just goes to show how little it counts to be right.

Rick Burke called the requirement that all schools use the same math textbooks "an unnecessary and counter-productive constraint". That was great. He also noted that CMP II has reached the end of its seven-year cycle and is due for review and possible replacement.

Tim Schlosser says that the TFA corps members are working hard and accomplishing wonderful things. Like other teachers are not? He says that the only question is whether hiring committees should have the option of hiring Teach for America corps members when seeking the best choices for their available teacher positions. But if we were really to open the hiring pool we would certainly open it beyond just Teach for America corps members, wouldn't we? Why not open the hiring to everyone who doesn't have a teacher certificate? Wouldn't that achieve the same outcomes to an even greater degree?

Lisa McFarlane tried to make some kind of point about keeping our commitments. First of all, does she know who she is talking to? Seattle Public Schools has never kept a single commitment that it has ever made to any community of students and families. She picked an odd choice of themes. Second, what commitment? The contract has a termination clause. So long as the District follows the terms of that clause they are keeping their commitment. Not a clever bit of testimony at all. Also, it's not as if the six teachers who were hired would be fired if the contract were canceled.

Liv Finne says that the Teach for America corps members are needed because they are the best teachers. I hadn't heard anyone make that claim before. She also said that Teach for America has brought new prestige and success to teaching. Yes, I've noticed how much prestige teachers have gained over the past couple years.

Christine King and Rebecka McKinney from Graham Hill came and gave the Board a tongue-lashing for over-ruling the superintendent regarding Pay for K at Graham Hill Montessori pre-school. It was a clever use of a current action item to talk about an issue which is not an action item. They framed it as a governance /management issue.

Lindsey Hill, the executive director for Teach for America in the Puget Sound spoke. I wonder if she's very worried about her job. I mean, let's face it. As of this moment her performance doesn't look that great. She got them into just two school districts this year and she only got about ten corps members hired instead of the 30-35 they were expecting. Now one of the two districts is contemplating the termination of the contract. I gotta believe that someone further up in the organization has talked to her about these results, and I cannot imagine it was a comfortable talk for her. She refutes the claim that TfA lacks diversity, only I don't remember anyone saying that. She refutes the claim that TfA teachers do not stay in education, only no one ever said that (although people have said that TfA corps members don't stay in the classroom). She claims that they are opposed by a vocal minority and that they have a broad, diverse range of supporters. I have no idea what data she used to reach that conclusion.

"Moderate Voice of Parents" had a couple of speakers, but I don't really know who they are or what they want. I suspect they want Gates Foundation funding.

I heard Daniel Calderone, a Teach for America corps member now working as the only foreign language teacher at Rainier Beach High School, speak but I cannot tell you what he said other than "I'm doing my job."

Another Teach for America staff member came forward to clarify any mis-conceptions that may be out there about Teach for America. She spoke about what principals have said in praise of the work by their first and second year teachers, but there aren't any second year Teach for America corps members in Seattle schools. She wanted to dispel the mistaken idea that TfA corps members have an advantage in the hiring process, only I've never heard anyone say that. It is not one of the mis-conceptions in circulation. She said that the partnership was initiated by the school board, which categorically false. She said that Teach for America corps members were hired by hiring committees comprised of "principals, teachers, parents, and community members" but none of the hiring committees that selected corps members had any parent or community member representation. That's another false statement from her. For a person who is looking to correct false statements she is doing more harm than good. She says that it is a system that has been in place in our district for many years. Also false. She also wanted to correct the claims that TfA corps members take jobs away from SPS teachers, except that no one ever said that. Finally, she wanted to dispel a third rumor that does not exist; that Teach for America corps members are affluent "outsiders". It must be fun and easy to write an argument when you also get to invent the opposing argument. It is certainly a lot easier than facing up to the real opposing argument.

We got to hear the real opposing argument from Cecelia McCormick, Dorothy Neville, and Melissa Westbrook.


just wondering said…
Inquiring Mind said...

A Civil lawsuit was filed on March 7th against SPS, Teresa Destrebeq and Dina Ladd. Teresa Destrebeq is the assistant principal who suddenly announced she was resigning as of March 9th.

Does anyone have any info on what the civil suit is about?
Disgusted said…
TfA also stated they are not included in the Phase 1 hiring. This is also false in Level 1 schools.
dan dempsey said…
Here is a news item(from the Queen Anne News) on assistant principal Teresa Destrebecq leaving Catherine Blaine.

Sorry I know nothing about the legal action.

Article was from February 28.

Change is certainly in the air at Magnolia’s Catharine Blaine K-8 as the school's vice principal, Theresa Destrebecq, has announced she has resigned from her position, with her last day on March 9.

Destrebecq has announced plans to go work part-time as a consultant for global non-profit.
Anonymous said…
I am disappointed in you, Charlie. For someone who claims to welcome an open dialogue saying things like the following, is very sad:

""Moderate Voice of Parents" had a couple of speakers, but I don't really know who they are or what they want. I suspect they want Gates Foundation funding."

How incredibly dismissive of parents who simply care about education and want to speak up, just as you do. I know some of these parents and they are certainly not looking for Gates funding any more than you are. Just because you don't agree with your position is no reason to write them off and accuse them in such a way.

And here I thought you were a bigger person than that...

- Disappointed
BamBam said…
"Google" Theresa Destrebecq, towards the bottom of the page you will see basic info on the filing, it was filed in Federal court as the charges are regarding Civil Rights....

On March 2 "onthefly" wrote the following:

"The teacher who was most outspoken and courageous about reporting Hill was also outspoken about some other issues and was forced into early retirement last year after a year of harassment through the evaluation process -- even though her students' test scores were on the rise."

About the quote above ...The administrator who started the harassment through the evaluation process? Theresa Destrebecq!
Anonymous said…
Wow, it's so hard to keep track of all these patriotic, wholesome named groups like Moderate Voice of Parents, League of Education Voters, Alliance for Education, the National Alliance, Voices of Citizens Together, Project USA, Citizens United, Freedom Works, Stand for Children...... It is so nationalistic! Kinda miss Greenpeace and Save the Whale. At least I kinda know from the name, what they are about.

Anonymous said…

"Rob Eleveld's wife works for ---wait for it!--the Gates Foundation.

Google "Eleveld Seattle."

But he's one of the "Moderate Voices" guys?

Mr Ed
Josh Hayes said…
Am I the only one shocked that RBHS has but one foreign-language teacher? That's crazy!
Charlie Mas said…

I, too, am often disappointed in me.

Do you know what they want? Right now they want stable leadership, but that's like saying that they want air to breathe. They apparently also want professional corporate governance, but then how can they support 1620 BP in which the Board cedes to the superintendent the duty to enforce policy?

If there is a member of this group reading this blog, please stand up and represent.
dan dempsey said…
Yup I agree with Charlie,

Dan Dempsey speaks the truth for 3 minutes HERE .... and it makes NO Difference.

(1) Math scores for Black and Low Income students were at their lowest point on Spring 2011 MSP in grades 3,4,5 and Enfield told us that Math Teachers were getting better at using the materials... High School End of Course testing on Algebra was a disaster for Low income kids in the following diverse districts ... Seattle, Highline, Bethel, Everett. Yet instead of looking at materials and practices ... TFA is a proposed solution based on NO Evidence of ever closing achievement gaps (Baloney filled School Board action reports) and evidence of poor performance in Districts with an adequate supply of fully credentialed teachers.

(2) The SPS never conducted a careful review of options for closing achievement gaps, preferring to bring in TFA instead. the district has no plans for any careful review. This violated WAC 181-79A-231 .... This was not a mistake this was intentional and six directors ignored the WAC and the needs of educationally disadvantaged students. Four of those six directors are still in office.

(3) Enfield was authorized by the Board to seek Conditional Certificates for TFA Corps Members on the grounds of closing achievement gaps. Enfield did not do what she was authorized to do. Instead she sought conditional certificates on the grounds that the TFA CM's were exceptionally talented .... except there was never any evidence presented to that effect and she was not authorized by the Board to do that.

(4) So where is a substantive response to the truth from directors or the Superintendent. There is never a response only neglect. The Board and Superintendent were very aware that the requirements of the WAC for conditional certificates had NOT been met..... yet it makes no difference to the Board. The Law, the achievement gaps, and the students are casualties in the game of Power Politics being played by those Phoney Phoudations Phor excellence.

(5) My favorite bumper sticker back in the day was:
Nuke Unborn Gay Whales ... guaranteed to get your car keyed by at least 95% of the population..... I do not think that Lev, D-Fer, SfC, Alliance for Ed, etc. make any more sense than that bumper sticker.

(6) The Law and the State Constitution are regularly ignored without consequence. The WA Supreme Court is a stunning role model.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data ..... Don't be looking for that from this Board. Watch TFA be approved 4-3 ... evidence who cares about that .... this is politics.
seattle citizen said…
Charlie, you wrote first that they wanted Gates money, then that they "apparently also want professional corporate governance"...Maybe they're in cahoots with Broad, funded by Gates:

From the list of Gates grants I put on the "many-fingered" thread:

"The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems - Date: November 2011 Purpose: to lead the development and curation of a knowledge management and networking system, so that education professionals in analytic and management roles can more easily connect, share what they are learning, and collaborate around shared challenges Amount: $2,423,20"
seattle citizen said…
Its strange that the Gates Foundation is giving the Broad Foundation money. Maybe now they can both write it off?
Disappointed, we have seen many of these "groups"just spring up and yet have no real purpose or voice. I asked someone to let me know about them and have heard nothing. Why bring this up at a Board meeting if you have no organization or people to talk to?

Seattle Citizen, I, too, found Gates funding of Broad to be a head-scratcher. Geez, how much money do these people need?
dan dempsey said…
Ya OK but ...

Date: November 2011 Purpose: to lead the development and curation of a knowledge management and networking system, so that education professionals in analytic and management roles can more easily connect, share what they are learning, and collaborate around shared challenges

The real problem is that TOP DOWN is incredibly inefficient and unproductive....

To improve a school's students academic performance significantly requires a change .... and that change is not different edicts from above.

(1) Empowering teaching professionals to make decisions about what changes are needed and giving them the power to make changes. Then they can make a plan, have goals, figure out how to monitor progress toward those goals and adjust as needed.

(2) Funding a Longer school year ... Longer school day

(3) Using proven practices and materials.

(4) Increased plan time for teachers

All of the above four are taking place in many top performing nations. In fact educational research takes place at the school level and is often done by teachers ... remember more planning time etc.

We get more crap from Gates, Broad, Walton, and the toadies at the Legislature like Rodney Tom .. Zarelli etc.
seattle citizen said…
Almost 11,000,000 from Gates, just in the last year, Melissa. And that's just for some of their efforts (LEV, Alliance, Broad, and New Teachers.

Buying democracy is expensive.

And over on another thread, there's dear Chris Jackins, begging for $25, $50 for the MOU lawsuit (because hey: our Board SHOULF have oversight over ALL schools...), just enough cash to hire one measly lawyer to try and hold our public officials to the law.

It's tragic, really.
dan dempsey said…
Do not forget the PIE network.

Partners in Education network

Topics include: transforming school systems in a time of fiscal austerity, advances in improving teacher effectiveness, and how state education agencies are playing a growing role in education reform.

Policy Partners:

Washington State Advocates =>

EAO: Partnership for Learning,
League of Education Voters,
Stand for Children Washington


Three of the country’s top education reformers have joined the Board of Directors of the Policy Innovators in Education (PIE) Network, which supports and connects 34 advocacy groups working to improve education across the country.

The new board members are:

Denis Calabrese, president of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation in Houston, known for its major contributions to K–12 education reform. He is a public policy and communications expert who has advised government and corporate leaders and served as the Chief-of-Staff for a U. S. Congressman.

Deborah McGriff, partner at New Schools Venture Fund, where she leads the Academic Systems Initiative. Previously, she served as the first female General Superintendent of Detroit Public Schools before joining EdisonLearning, where she held several executive positions, including President of Edison Teachers College.

Don Shalvey, deputy director for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s U.S. Program Education Initiative. His 40 years in public education, including founding Aspire Public Schools, has made him a widely recognized leader in education reform and the charter school movement.
dan dempsey said…
Correction on the PIE

Policy Innovators in Education (PIE) Network
Anonymous said…
Mirmac, StopTFA, anyone who knows, didn't one of this year's TFA recruits have a criminal record?

Make sure Liv Finne knows.

And why is it that it's ok to get up and lie in public about nothing you know about? Ms. Finne is a useful idiot. That much I know to be true. Ask Dr. Google about the monorail lawsuit. Collectively, can this entire cabal go make money somewhere else and let my grandkids just go to a good public school. Go mess up someone else's future. Stop trying to control their future to your advantage.

They think they know better but they won't answer to why we underfund students while allowing their cronies to spend millions over budget on ONE school, to make money on instructional materials (CMP, EDM, Writers Workshop) that dumb down or confuse many students. Who benefits when you screw public schools, praise our overpaid school "execs" on the take (how do you the solve problem of all the Marias?) and demonize the teachers who we are lucky to have in spit of the nonsense they are subjected to on all sides?

They don't care about my grandkids. They don't care about your kids. They care about their own plus being in the top 5 %, the top 1 %, and making the rest of us pay and suffer.

Mr. White
StopTFA said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
just wondering. doesn't seem like much
Diallo v. Seattle Public Schools et al
Cause: 42:1983 Civil Rights Act

schoo's failure to process mileage reimbursement requests to afterschool care per fed guidelines (for FRL? not sure of the statute cited)

Anonymous said…
I could not find details on the filing, but given the fact it is a Civil Rights claim, along with information in earlier posts, it is possible this is a retaliation claim for whistleblowing (reporting staff misconduct). In which case, it is a big deal.

also wondering
Charlie Mas said…
One of the speakers who claimed membership with "Moderate Voices of Parents" is Robert Eleveld.

This is the same name as the President and CEO of Shiftboard, Inc., a Seattle-based tech company. That's all I could learn about him.

Stacy Lawson, the other self-identified member of this shadowy group wrote a blog comment in support of Raj Manhas and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.

I know a little bit more about these folks, but nothing about their purported organization.

I will say that I have every reason to believe that they are sincere supporters of quality public education.

Of course, so is the Gates Foundation.
Anonymous said…
while the following quote is out of context ... SFC AFE DFER PFL CRPE NCTQ ... yuk, barf, retch and foul fiends

Seize on him, Furies, take him to your torments!'
With that, methoughts, a legion of foul fiends
Environ'd me about, and howled in mine ears
Such hideous cries, that with the very noise
I trembling waked, and for a season after
Could not believe but that I was in hell,

Are We Clarence?
Anonymous said…

"Rob Eleveld's wife works for ---wait for it!--the Gates Foundation.

Google "Eleveld Seattle."

But he's one of the "Moderate Voices" guys?

Mr Ed

do you know what his wife does for the gates foundation?

did you know their kids go to public school?

- Interesting

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