Seattle Schools Week of March 19-24

Monday, March 19th
Another community meeting the City is putting on about Arts Education.  This one is at South Shore K-8 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 21st
Board Work Session on HR from 4-5:30 p.m.  No agenda posted yet.

School Board Meeting from 6-9 p.m.  Agenda.  As Charlie pointed out elsewhere, a big agenda with many property issues but a couple of major votes. 

One is about continuing the contract with TFA and the other is over the governance policy, 1620BP. 
Because of TFA, I'm sure this meeting will be full, both in the attendance and on the speakers list. 

I feel fairly certain that the contract will be retained by a 4-3 vote.  I think there are some Board members that believe if more TFA aren't hired and/or a donor found for the TFA fees, that the contract will just peter out in a couple of years.

Maybe but there are two items to consider.  One, the powers that want TFA in SPS will open their wallets and pay the fees.  So thinking that we wouldn't have more TFA because of donor issues is probably a non-issue.  The other item is there is an internal push for TFA (via various staff) and I think that is probably distilling out to more principals.  We'll see.  I have faith in our site-based hiring teams but I also know that TFA has a big reach. 

That big reach is wanting to prevent a bigger story getting out about UW's  U-ACT program for TFA recruits fails from lack of students AND the even bigger story of if TFA fails to spark in Seattle Schools.   If TFA leaves Seattle, it would probably be national education news. 

Friday, March 23rd
BEX Oversight Committee meeting from 8:30-10:30 am at JSCEE

Saturday, March 24th
Community Meetings with Harium Martin Morris at Diva Espresso on Lake City from 9:30-11:30 am and also with Director Smith-Blum from 10-11:30 am at the Capitol Hill branch library.

Also for your calendar:

Seattle Public Schools will host three community meetings on April 3, 5 and 10, to share information and ask for feedback about options for possible building construction projects to be included in the Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy package. Once final, this list of construction projects will be in front of Seattle voters in February 2013.

The Building Excellence capital program enables Seattle Public Schools to continue renovations and improvements to the buildings where teaching and learning takes place, to make each school an excellent school and where each student is being prepared to graduate from high school ready for college, career and life.

The community meetings will be held:
• 6:30-8 p.m., Tuesday, April 3, 2012, at Eckstein Middle School

• 6:30-8 p.m., Thursday, April 5, 2012, at Denny International Middle School
• 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, 2012, at Mercer Middle School

Each meeting will include presentations by Capital Projects and Planning staff members, followed by a question and answer period with community attendees. Comments from the community will be collected, recorded, reviewed, considered and included in considering the Building Excellence IV Capital Levy projects package.


dan dempsey said…
Not doubt about it. When it comes to TFA, I must be the most naive person around.

I guess it must be my Jesuit High School education and the civil rights concerns of the 1960s in my background that has me so misinformed and apparently misguided..

So much for the Code of Hammurabi and later documents like the WA State Constitution etc..

I thought that the most important item in the coming TFA vote would be the law and the Superintendent and Board's violation of the law.

So I wrote Tony Martinez and I wrote the Board.

So TFA is NOT an experiment and TFA is NOT about closing achievement gaps.

What is TFA in Seattle about?

Could the Directors explain it to me?
Sahila said…
Imagine,the largest in the country for-profit charter operator, has been investigated in some states for the way it exercises control over the schools it manages, essentially ignoring the boards of trustees that are supposed to really run the schools.

It has also come under scrutiny for its complicated real estate deals that generate millions of public dollars for Imagine.

Other problems, too!

Yet, Teach for America agrees on a contract with them....


yep - its all for the kids, AND NEVER ABOUT THE MONEY....
Anonymous said…
Seattle operates in a situational ethics milieu, leaving laws and honesty to the lesser folk.

Our society functions more and more this way. However, the elitism in Seattle seems to create a hotbed of "the laws apply to everyone but me" mentality.

Look at Hanauer's behavior, for example. He doesn't like not getting his way on one issue, so he is threatening/willing to jump ship to a candidate who will send Washington back to the fifties,
a la Rick Santorum.

Ethics only matter to the elitists when they not getting their own way. Then it's Tilly Bar the Door.

To me, honesty, laws and ethics matter. I guess I'm just funny that way.

TFA in Seattle is about money, politics and being part of the in crowd. Our most vulnerable students--be damned.

Ten years from now, this experiment on children of color living in poverty will be judged very harshly, like all experiments on vulnerable people are evaluated in hindsight.

--enough already
Charlie Mas said…
I seriously doubt that the Board will cancel the contract with Teach for America. For that to happen one of the four Board members who voted for it last year would have to vote against it this year. Directors DeBell and Martin-Morris have signaled that with won't switch.

I have seen nothing to indicate that Director Smith-Blum will switch because she has asked the principals and enough of them have said that they want to allow Teach for America corps members to be in the hiring pool. Remind me to review 1620BP for the protocol for a board director to contact principals directly.

Similarly I have seen nothing that would suggest that Director Carr has changed her mind. On the other hand I haven't seen anything that suggests that she hasn't. She may not like the drama and she may not like the controversy, but she will probably regard continuing the contract as signalling stability and therefore the greater good.
dan dempsey said…

I must agree that the four current directors that chose to ignore the law several times in approving TFA actions have shown little interest in following the law in regard to TFA ever.

When acting in defiance of existing law ... do not admit it... just keep on doing it.
Anonymous said…
ST supports TFA! Can you believe it?

--enough already
Anonymous said…
I would encourage TFA to aggressively push for expansion into the Issaquah School District. Lynne Varner, being the expert TFA advocate that she is, should be expounding to the Issaquah School Board on the many and varied advantages to staffing with TFA.

Anonymous said…
From the Seattle Times:

"Seattle Public Schools should keep Teach for America"

-it never ends
suep. said…
Here's something I recently wrote about the TFA, Inc. controversy:

The Letter the Seattle School District did not send to local parents about Teach for America (but should have)

(Here's an excerpt):

At last week’s Seattle School Board meeting, backers of Teach for America, Inc. tried to dismiss local parents who question or oppose TFA as a “vocal minority.” In truth, we are informed public school parents who are willing to speak up about our legitimate concerns. If our numbers aren’t (yet) as large as they might be, it’s to great extent because district leadership and others have actively kept district families uninformed about Teach for America, Inc. and how and why it was brought to Seattle.

Before signing a contract with TFA, Inc. why didn’t the Seattle Public School District (SPS) first ask parents if they wanted their kids taught by uncredentialed, inexperienced ‘teachers’ with only five weeks of training and only a two-year commitment to the profession? What if it had? What would the response have been?

How might the conversation be different if the district had informed SPS families about the concerted and well-financed push by some political enterprises, venture philanthropists, a college of education dean with ties to TFA, Inc. and politicians to bring Teach for America, Inc. to Seattle’s schools?

What if it had sent a letter like this?

Sept. 2010

Dear parents, guardians and families of Seattle Public Schools,

Some local and national corporate and political organizations and individuals would like to bring an enterprise called Teach for America, Inc. to Seattle Public Schools so its recruits can teach your children. As the true stakeholders with nearly 48,000 children in our schools, we would like your input before we commit to such a move.

Those who support Teach for America, Inc. say their young recruits will “close the achievement gap” between poor children of color and other children in our schools. There is no clear evidence that proves this claim, so we admit that this would be an experiment.

Those who want to bring TFA to Puget Sound wanted to do it quietly, and influence the school board to vote for it without much if any public discussion. TFA Inc. representatives wanted to meet casually with our superintendent, chief academic officer and school board members to get them to agree to support this change in policy without consulting the families of SPS.

We knew that was wrong. After all, these are your children we are talking about. So we are asking you now for your input, before we commit to any agreement or sign any contract that could negatively – or positively, we don’t know – impact your child’s learning experience or the morale of current teachers in SPS. (continues at the Seattle Ed Blog)
Anonymous said…
Why isn't the teacher union coming out and speaking up? Are the SEA and WEA so cowered at this point or is it because thus far, we're just talking about small TFA numbers affecting small number of schools.

dan dempsey said…
Dear Curious,

At the high levels WEA is hardly representing members interests. With Glen Bafia as executive director of the SEA the same may be true there as well.

The Common Core State Standards and Race to the Top were hardly in the best interests of either teachers or students. Yet the WEA was a strong supporter of CCSS and same for most of RttT.

The teachers pay $70+ per month for virtually no representation on major important issues. Perhaps that is why no SEA officials were organized enough to testify at the last school board meeting on TFA. The $70+ rolls in regardless.

This is all about politics and political power .... no evidence required.
Anonymous said…

The SEA pres and vice pres may be doing jack in their public testimony against TFA, but the person running a campaign to take better reins of the organization, Eric Muhs out of Ballard, has spoken eloquently, many times, against TFA in Seattle Schools. If you are a teacher or know any SPS teachers, tell them to vote Eric in the upcoming SEA election. He is passionate and effective in support of qualified teachers. Jonathan Knapp is ineffective.

dan dempsey said…
Charlie wrote:

Similarly I have seen nothing that would suggest that Director Carr has changed her mind. On the other hand I haven't seen anything that suggests that she hasn't. She may not like the drama and she may not like the controversy, but she will probably regard continuing the contract as signalling stability and therefore the greater good.

Except Sherry Carr may see the value of stability in the teaching corps in SPS schools. If that is the case she will vote to terminate the contract.

Students at all schools need a certain amount of stability in the corps of teachers at their school.

TFA CMs are not contributors to stability. The are two year TEMP agency placements.

About the time they may figure out how to teach effectively ... they leave.
Sahila said…

Kopp admits TFA'ers not by themselves have "impact necessary to make meaningful difference in students' educational trajectories" KOPP ACKNOWLEDGES FACTORS OTHER THAN TEACHING AT PLAY IN STUDENT PERFORMANCE
Curious, because the TFA teachers ARE union members and the SEA certainly won't speak against them. It is a quandary for them.

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