Wednesday, August 08, 2012

TFA Class of 2012-13: Three

At the August 7, 2012 meeting the Board Executive Committee considered the schedule for the motion to approve the conditional certificates for the Teach for America corps members who were hired for this fall. There are three of them: two hired as elementary teachers at Emerson and one hired as a Special Education teacher at Aki Kurose. The discussion at the Executive Committee meeting was about whether to introduce the motion at the August 15 Board meeting and vote on it at the September 5 meeting, or to introduce and vote on the motion at the August 15 meeting, skipping the traditional two-week period for public input. Without this gap there will be no opportunity for public input.

If the Board doesn't vote until September 5, then the district submits the request for the conditional certificates after that, then the teachers will have to start the year without the certificates. That means that they will, officially at least, be regarded as emergency substitute teachers until they get their certificates (the certificates are never denied by the state; the state relies on the district to do all of the due diligence). Apparently they can only be emergency substitute teachers for 30 days without the certificate. Last year the turnaround on the entire process was not that fast. So there is a real concern that if the process is delayed by the time between Board meetings that the district could run up against a deadline for the issuance of the conditional certificates.

Whether the Board does introduction at one meeting and action at the next or introduction and action at the same meeting, doesn't much matter. Their vote is not in doubt and will not be influenced by public input. They will vote to approve because they are contractually obligated to do so.

There are a few much more interesting points to discuss.

  1. It was reported at the Executive Committee that four of the five corps members hired last year worked out. Did one of them not work out? I don't recall hearing about that.
  2. Only three Teach for America corps members were hired this year. Only five were hired last year. They are not exactly getting hired in droves, are they? I don't see how the UW can maintain their special TFA-only program for so few students. The four remaining from last year plus the three from this year make a total of only seven from Seattle in the UW program. They were expecting 20-25 a year. They figured that there would be 40-50 in the program this year, not seven.
  3. Director Peaslee asked if there wasn't a problem - a legal problem - with hiring a Teach For America corps member to teach Special Education. Doesn't that require an endorsement on top of a teaching certificate and how could a Teach for America corps member, who doesn't even have a certificate, possibly have the endorsement? It's a good question. Surprisingly, no one on the staff could answer it. Gee, didn't we cover this territory last year? Apparently not. Wasn't there some assurance given last year that Teach For America corps members would not be hired to teach Special Education? No one could recall. Apparently none of the staff who were with the District last year are still here. 100% turnover in a single year? And none of the people on the staff this year bothered to check the rules?
Thanks to Cecelia and Dorothy for the report from the Executive Committee.


Dorothy Neville said...

It was even worse than that. Regarding the Special Ed hire, no one even used the word endorsement. Dir Peaslee probably would have if she had thought of it, but the others just played along with her use of the word "illegal." Was there something about them being conditionally certificated that precluded Special Ed? Dir DeBell pointed out that conditional certified meant they were certified, as if that was the whole story. Staff certainly could have answered Peaslee using the correct terminology and explained certification vs endorsements, but no one did. As was made clear last year, special ed requires an endorsement and in general a TfA recruit will not have that.

Now perhaps this is an unusual TfA person with experience already and a special ed endorsement. If that's the case, then he wouldn't need a conditional certification anyway. That was the situation for one TfA person last year (not one of the five who needed conditional cert). The HR person bringing this action to committee certainly should have known if that were the case.

Whoever the HR person was who brought forth the Board Action Report, he was woefully under-prepared and ignorant. (His first name is Dan, but I missed his last name from introductions at beginning of meeting.) Has he worked for the district more than a week or so? He kept calling the organization "Teaching for America" and he said that they have gone through the "SEA process." By that he meant (after DeBell pulled it out of him) that they have been hired by the regular district process of site based hiring following regular procedures aligned with the CBA, but oh dear, his made up jargon makes HR look bad.

dan dempsey said...

Hey come on now....

And none of the people on the staff this year bothered to check the rules?

So when have the rules or policies ever mattered?

StopTFA said...

It is a shame we must go through this fire drill again...

IDEA Statute: TITLE I / A / 602 / 10

(10) Highly qualified.--

(A) In general.--For any special education teacher, the term `highly qualified' has the meaning given the term in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, except that such term also--

(i) includes the requirements described in subparagraph (B); and

(ii) includes the option for teachers to meet the requirements of section 9101 of such Act by meeting the requirements of subparagraph (C) or (D).

(B) Requirements for special education teachers.-- When used with respect to any public elementary school or secondary school special education teacher teaching in a State, such term means that--

(i) the teacher has obtained full State certification as a special education teacher (including certification obtained through alternative routes to certification), or passed the State special education teacher licensing examination, and holds a license to teach in the State as a special education teacher...

Charlie Mas said...

They don't check the rules because the rules don't matter. Seattle Public Schools has a culture of lawlessness. All that matters is what they want to do, not what they are allowed to do.

What was the value of having someone from HR at the meeting if that person couldn't ask any questions. Basic questions, such as "Is this person qualified to teach this class?" How could the person from HR not know the laws around the qualifications required to teach Special Education? Do they have any expertise at all?

Anonymous said...

And why would this person from HR still have a job? What were their qualifications?


Rachel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Westbrook said...

If the Board and Banda want to see the e-mails between Jeff Clark at Denny and Holly Ferguson about hiring a TFA as a Special Ed teacher, I'll be glad to show them that discussion.

Ms. Ferguson clearly stated that they could NOT use a TFA person for that role.

I have said this before - I have a special needs child and if the district had tried that with my child, I would have pulled him from that class (and loudly). This is not best practices and this district can't be that desperate.

StopTFA said...

Your wish is my command:

Wah!, but he's so great and I REALLY want the Ed Reform cred!

Jan said...

Stop TFA and Melissa: I hope one of you WILL forward those emails to the Board, to Mr. Banda, and to the person in HR (who evidently is still on a learning curve with SPED teaching issues).

And Stop TfA -- while I don't know, and thus certainly can't disparage, what goes on in getting a SPED endorsement, neither of the two teachers who worked miracles for my SPED kid had them. One was the parent of an autistic genius who got her "cred" on "the street" so to speak. The other was a reading teacher with about 30 years experience in differentiated instruction, and who had hands on experience with virtually every method of teaching reading known to man (none of which worked for my child -- she had to invent her own by cobbling together parts of various systems).

I realize none of these sounds like the average TfA corps member seeking to teach SPED kids. All I am saying is -- it is not impossible for the absolutely right person for the job to come without the blessings of some politically correct COE department (like the one our pal Stritikus heads). Sometimes, the best teachers of SPED kids may just be great "master teachers" with a passion for succeeding with SPED kids.

Anonymous said...

$83.25 a month, times 12 months - that is the number SEA WEA pooh-bahs care about.

As long as the paychecks and the junket checks don't bounce, the pooh-bahs can junket around the state, getting their pats on the head from the important people, getting the latest version of conventional wisdom, getting the latest excuses for losing to Bill Gates, getting the latest lipstick color to put on the pig before you call it Monique.

As Anne Richards said about her spoiled frat boy opponent years ago, you can put lipstick on a pig and call it Monique, but


StopTFA said...


I would not turn one of those teachers away. I know many moms who have, by necessity, become experts in best practices for their child's disability. I suppose like anything (driving a car, wiring a house), training and licensing are there for a very important reason: to protect the lives and well-being of loved ones.

StopTFA said...

As Dorothy noted above, the meeting discussion was kind of surreal. I can't believe Mr. Banda felt good about it. The two (count 'em, TWO) TFA alum admin types sat there with deer in the headlights looks, or hightailed it out of the room. Laughable about the best and brightest biz, with all this gamesmanship and subterfuge going on. Too bad well-intentioned staff have to soil their hands on this crapola.

Charlie Mas said...

So... where are we with this?

A Teach for America corps member cannot be a Special Education teacher and no one in the District should know that better than the folks in HR.

If the Board has to accelerate the conditional certification request process for these three or disaster will result, what will happen if any others are hired after this week? Disaster, I presume.

What is the meaning of the claim that four of the five hired last year "worked out"?

What is the story on the epic fail in HR to have any useful information or any expertise on this?

Rufus X said...

I had the misfortune of sitting across from and couldn't help but overhear someone yapping on their cell on the bus today. She was consoling a friend who apparently had some sort of change going on that involved rethinking his/her plans after graduation, maybe a potential job prospect fell through. The yapper asked "Have you considered TFA?" She went on to say things like "It's ONLY 2 years, you'll get to be in Chicago, and it'll look great on your resume." That last point was emphasized several times. Never once did this person mention the teaching aspect of the TFA responsibility - just that it was ONLY 2 years and would look great on a resume. I was hoping the yapper would get off the phone long enough for me to ask if she considered the future students and families of the person she was encouraging to join TFA. Alas, she stayed on the phone even as she exited the bus at a stop before mine.

StopTFA said...

Let's see what OSPI says in its HQT Resource Manual:

"Special education teachers who do not hold full state certification do not meet IDEA HQT requirements are not eligible to be reported as meeting ESEA requirements."

end of story.

TFA was told this. I guess those who want to push TFA were hoping we wouldn't notice...