Disqus

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Odds and Ends

In advanced of tonight's School Board meeting, a few updates:

- packed speakers list.   Unfortunately, Mr. Garrett, who is one of the leaders of the groups at the Horace Mann building, is on the list.  He generally is not the most graceful and tactful of speakers so I expect that to be an unpleasant two minutes.

As well, there are plenty of TFA people, including three of the four new ones up for conditional certification, on the speakers list.  This baffles me (as it has in the past).  Are they speaking to do a pep talk to the Board about themselves?  And, their fearless Seattle leader is speaking as well.

 Unless charters come on-line soon (and I don't see this happening), TFA is going to be in trouble.  They are still running the UW program in the red as their numbers stagnate.  Most districts just don't seem interested.  And, with the new Seattle Teacher Residency program, I wonder how both UW and SPS can afford to invest in TWO teacher residency programs.

There are several speakers to the SEI/Danna Johnston Foundation MOU for support services to Rainier Beach High School.  It will be interesting to see what they will say as this item has been pulled from the agenda.

As well, another item pulled is the Seattle Teacher Residency MOU.  Both of these items are moved to the next Board meeting.

I had urged the Board to do this in an e-mail and that's because the Board has no business okaying ANY agreement that doesn't not have a budget and explain the costs.  Neither of these items did.

There are 13 people on the waitlist (for whatever reason, several are from LEV to talk about the teachers' contract). 

- School Board Elections


To note, I personally am supporting Sue Peters.  I did not make this decision, nor give support to her campaign until after the primary.  This blog is likely not going to endorse any one candidate.  

Based on the spirited discussion we had here recently around candidate qualifications, here is some more information:

Sue Peters - "I am a  journalist, editor and communications strategist. Publications I have worked or written for include: Seattle Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle Features, Huffington Post, San Francisco Examiner, Salon, Race, Poverty & the Environment, Crosscut, Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Lonely Planet, Public Art Review. In recent years, I have applied my research and journalistic skills to the analysis of public education policy and practice, both local and national."

Her website notes that she, too, has family ties to teachers.

"I have great respect for teachers and have family ties to the profession. My brother has been a public high school teacher for 30 years, and I worked during college as an English as a Second Language (ESL) and writing tutor, and taught in the university’s Summer Bridge program for incoming freshmen from underrepresented communities. More recently, I taught French to K-2 students in a before-school enrichment program."

She was just endorsed by the King County Democratic Central Committee.

Suzanne Dale Estey

I cannot say what recent endorsements Ms. Dale Estey has as they are not reflected at her campaign webpage or Facebook page.

I inquired about the Road Map project and her stated involvement in that initiative.

She was contacted by them because of a previous work relationship she had with the head of CCER/Road Map project, Mary Jean Ryan.  Ms. Ryan was trying to establish relationships and contacts in the South King County area and Ms. Dale Estey was working as the Economic Development officer in Renton.  Ms. Ryan did say she had limited dealings with Dale Estey on this project.

It was stated that Ms. Dale Estey was a very helpful and valuable facilitator to making these connections to elected officials, people and organizations related to children's services. 

Later on, there was also a book by a couple of authors from the Brookings Institution who had examined the Road Map project as part of a larger look at low-income suburban school districts and, when the book was published, Dale Estey organized a gathering for all those involved to roll out the book.

It was stated that Ms. Dale Estey is organized and a very hard worker who follows thru. 

30 comments:

Girrrrrl, you ain't foolin' nobody! said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Po3 said...

I see nothing wrong in this blog endorsing candidates just like the Times and the Slog.

I do have to agree with Girrrl above, it may not have been stated, but certainly implied, who you supported - and there is nothing wrong with that.

Jon said...

I don't know, Girrrrrl, electing a school board member is not a team sport. We shouldn't pick sides and cheer on our team regardless of the facts.

I saw Melissa trying to report facts about the candidates in the primaries, especially around their positions, endorsements, and funding sources. The fact that Suzanne's endorsements and funding sources tend to be pro-charter is not bias, but fact, and is not even a negative for people who are pro-charter.

Anonymous said...

Here is the link to the endorsements for Suzanne Dale Estey. It is pretty prominent on her website.

http://suzanne4schools.com/index.php?page=display&id=87

- Helping out

Anonymous said...

I don't understand one of your comments, Melissa. Estey's list of endorsers is displayed prominently on her campaign Web site. As Jon says, it is heavily pro-charter.

Estey confronted me personally to complain that I was saying she was pro-charter. I told her I wasn't saying that at all (she has been scrupulous about saying she is anti-charter). I told her she could say whatever she wanted to, but the facts -- the irrefutable facts -- were that a whole lot of charter supporters were also Estey supporters.

I told her I considered those people the enemy, and that I wasn't interested in giving them what they wanted, and if that meant that her campaign was going to end up as collateral damage, then that would be just too damn bad.

Estey apparently has bureaucratic skills, and experience in government that a lot of people appear to value. Her personal campaigning skills are off the scale, and would serve a candidate for Congress or statewide office well. I just think Sue Peters is a better fit for this position -- by a wide margin.

I asked Estey why she wasn't running for Seattle City Council or something. She said "this is what I want to do."

She must be beaten. Her supporters will want a return on their investment in her campaign, and they do not deserve to have it. This guy Blanford promises to be a spectacular train wreck on the Board, and there's no stopping his election. Blanford plus Estey would be *my* worst nightmare.

-- Ivan Weiss


Melissa Westbrook said...

Helping Out and Ivan, what I meant was I was not able to tell what endorsements she had received RECENTLY.

(Peters just got endorsed this week by the KC Dems Central Ctm).

Of course, Dale Estey has many endorsements.

- Core 24/7 said...

Truly Odds and Ends -

Here are the Examplars - suggested readings for the Common Core.

http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_B.pdf


Hmmm said...

Estey's web page is silent on the issue of charter schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Estey's statements around charters is that she doesn't support them but on the grounds that existing schools aren't fully funded. So, as Charlie asked, if schools WERE fully-funded, would she support them?

There's a question for a debate.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, regarding the number of LEV speakers at the school board meeting, LEV sent an email announcement regarding SPS teacher contract negotiations. Active LEV members are encouraged to email the Seattle School Board. I've included an attachment of the announcement below.

http://ourschoolscoalition.org/our-kids-our-schools-close-the-gap/

- Curious Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, I know why LEV is there. I have no idea why they think the Board is involved in the negotiations.

For future reference, I'm not here to help the so-called Our Schools coalition so don't attach their stuff here.

Libby said...

What's the deal with Our Schools Coalition? Why aren't you a fan, Melissa? Just trying to get some background.

Good Question said...

Estey also acknowledges that charter schools were voter approved.

The question: If citizens wanted charter schools, and if funding were available, would Estey vote YES?

Maureen said...

So does the "endorsement" referenced in the Board Agenda attachement (p. 3)that these four TFA Corps Members (CM) have mean something in particular? At first I thought it meant they were actually certificated (I hear that has happened), but since all four have it I'm thinking it must mean they passed an exam (know they have to take something-but can't remember what it's called) or were signed off on by someone? Can one of you teachers clarify for me?

Not to be too snarky, but I'm noticing that none of these particular CMs went to Harvard (not that we should sneeze at Hopkins, CO State, WSU or SPU but it seems like Seattle could attract some actual teachers from those schools pretty easily.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Libby, why don't I believe in the so-called Our Schools coalition?

1) Before it ever existed, I was asked, by LEV, to join a coalition group that wanted to put forth to the district ideas/concerns that parents/community had over the teachers' contract.

I was asked to come in a little later than others (and with some reluctance on my part) but I did. There were members of LEV, CPPS, PTA, and several other notable parent groups. There was also the Alliance for Education.

We talked, discussed and really got to what we believed was important. We wrote a brief about it, got a meeting - with Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, the district negotiator and SEA members. They listened to us and I felt it was a true triumph of a coalition to find common ground and work together and, united, ask the district to listen.

And then, the Alliance - either through its own volition or someone else whispering in their ear - announced to our group that THEY were forming their own group. There had been some concern before this announcement because they had refused to sign our joint statement. And now, after sitting in on every meeting, listening to all our ideas, they were forming their own group.

Very poor form, very bad manners.

And, true to form, I was about the only person to say anything out loud to them in front of the group. I just said that I thought it wrong and bad form to have been in all our meetings, only to do this. (Others may have said something to them privately, I don't know.)

I left the group. There was no reason to stay and of course, LEV folded the group. (Not PTA or CPPS, though.)

FYI, I have told this story before and I have never been contradicted by anyone in the group, not publicly, not privately. They all know exactly what happened.

2) Our Schools is just a front for the Alliance in another form. The groups signed on? I know from one person in one of the groups that the focus was decided before they were asked in. Decisions get sent to them to sign onto. And most of the members aren't even parent groups.

3) They are trying - over and over - to pass themselves off as the voice of parents and community (and use the wildest poll numbers to support their views). They can do that but it does not make it true.

So I choose to ignore them as much as possible.

They have no voice here.

Maureen said...

I'm listening to the Board meeting online:

Yay! to Sharon Peaslee for asking what 'unusual talents' TFA candidates have in order to deserve to bypass the certification process. Me->So if a UW professor wanted to teach in SPS but wasn't certificated, they should be able to get the Board to let them bypass it as well?

Apostle reads through the language of the process, but as Carr points out, doesn't answer the question.

(I didn't transcribe what Carr said. It was short.)

HMM is tired of going through this "every freaking year."

Marty McLaren has "softened" on this issue because TFA candidates had to go through the same process as all the other candidates for the job. She is "very much in support of this."

Me->So, have other non certificated tried to get an interview for an SPS position? Do they get through Human Resources?

Patu is asking about data:
Apostle says:
we hired 6 in 11-12
we hired 4 in 12-13
we have retained 6 of these.
(wait, that is retention data, not success data.)

She's voting no because we don't have a teacher shortage here.

DeBell is happy this is being voted on before school starts and that the candidates came and spoke. He feels like the Board has to approve the certificates since they approved the original contract and will vote yes. He thinks it's positive to draw more different types of candidates to teaching.

Peaslee is pointing out that TFAs have five weeks of training as opposed to certificated teachers thorough training. This is not to say the candidates aren't great potential teachers, there are many great student teachers in programs throughout our region. Hiring these TFA CMs makes no sense to her. Reference to Finland's policy of (1)selecting top applicants for teaching programs and (2)training them for them for three years. With TFA we are picking some of the best candidates, but then under preparing them as opposed to our programs at UW and SU which take great candidates and train them to be great teachers and then they go through the hiring process.

KSB is asking what retention rate is for ALL 1st year teachers, Apostle is saying he doesn't have that (sounds like she talked to him about it before and thought he might have had the answer for this meeting.) She's talking about how she voted for the contract after talking to principals, so she's saying she still trusts the principals but hinks the (new) urban teachers program will be a better bet going forward. Now she's acting like she knows the vbote will pass (congratulating the candidates_

Votes No Peaslee and Patu, rest Yes.

Charlie Mas said...

In the language of the agreement between the District and TFA, the District agrees that the corps have special talents or recognition based exclusively on their selection by TFA. So the selection of the corps members by TFA is the recognition needed to satisfy the requirement of the state law - according to the District (or, more precisely, according to the agreement the District has with TFA). The state never questions it. They don't believe it is their place to second-guess a District.

Maureen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maureen said...

So say an assistant professor of physics at UW doesn't get tenure and wants to stay in the area. They have great teaching evaluations and significant experience volunteering with high school age students in poor Seattle neighborhoods. Could they apply for a job at Rainier Beach or Cleveland and be moved into the process (i.e., be eligible for an interview) by SPS HR, or would their lack of certification and TFA status be a road block that would mean their application would never make it to the principals at RBHS or Cleveland STEM?

Based on what Apostle and the Board members said, this should be possible (they never said that TFA CMs had their own special exceptional process.)

Has anyone ever tried anything like this? (When I moved to Seattle I called the Catholic Diocese office to see if maybe I could teach Economics at a Catholic HS. They said that all of their teachers had certificates. It never entered my mind to even consider the public schools.)

Maureen said...

Ok, I feel like I'm sort of live blogging my own issues, but here you go: Did anyone else hear that this Board introduction item:

Northwest School of Innovative Learning (BHC Fairfax
Hospital) – (C&I)
Approval of this item will execute a contract with Northwest
School of Innovative Learning in the amount of $732,000.00 to provide
educational services for students in private placement for the 2013-2014 school
year.


And then also hear that this is basically a continuation of a contract that covers THREE students. The discussion, it seemed to me was based on students with mental health issues (I got the impression it wasn't to pay for long term physical care or incarceration.) Am I wrong or are we talking about something like $244,000 per student covered for this?

If this is what it costs, I'm ok, but shouldn't expenditures like this not be included in general average per student expenditure? Maybe we should be reporting median and not mean expenditures?

Melissa Westbrook said...

That's a good question,Maureen. I don't know the answer.

This is care for very, very high-needs students. I did point out to the C&I committee that this group had a lawsuit filed against it by a family over alleged physical abuse issues to a Tacoma student. I urged them to make sure they understood the outcomes of that suit before they signed anything. I have no idea what they may have learned.

mirmac1 said...

Informing the board that it costs $20K a pop for each short-timer (pages 4 and 5, over and above salary and the philanthropic finders fee) apparently falls upon five deaf ears.

As expected we heard from the earnest cadets, how they taught orphans etc. Fine. There are equally earnest young people in Stritikus' Teacher Education program at UW that show their dedication by paying their own way.

With respect to the costly Seattle Teacher Residency Project, activist Chris Jackins makes a valid point: today's board cannot vote to bind future school board hiring decisions (which is defined in the RCW). That is what this Alliance pet project would do.

While I would choose the latter over TFA anyday, the jumping through hoops is tiring for parents, students and teachers.

Anonymous said...

Maureen - Wow! How could educational services cost $230k per student per year. I can't even imagine someone that severely in need of special services benefitting from that type of expenditure. What might they be offering? Surely the district isn't responsible for room and board and physical therapy? Shouldn't there be some other pot of money to cover those types of services.

Are you sure it wasn't for a three-year contract or something?

GMG

mirmac1 said...

GMG, I'm gonna stick my neck out and say there is Federal Safety Net funding for these high-needs students (if the district does its job and applies - which it has failed to do in the past). Children in residential care are often very traumatized and may be suicidal.

Maureen, if UW physics professor was (almost already) admitted into a different Rte 4 alternative cert program (the UW one is ONLY for TFA), then "theoretically" that might happen. Except the RCW says admittance to Rte 4 is contingent on someone already employed. The whole "chicken and the egg" conundrum is smoothed over by the TFA patronage/political apparatus. So Apostle's statements are disingenuous.

Maureen said...

GMG, All I know is what was on the agenda and what I thought I heard. I was listening online (the video was off for some reason) and not paying 100% attention (maybe 89%!) but the agenda did say: educational services for students in private placement for the 2013-2014 school
year
so definitely for one year. Kay Smith Blum asked how many kids were served this year and they said three. I guess they could be planning for more going forward, but still we're talking hundreds of thousands per kid.

Here's a link to their website: Northwest School of Innovative Learning. It doesn't seem to be residential (9-2:30 school day) but is year round and includes daily group and individual therapy. Does the school collect insurance/Medicaid in addition to what the Districts pay? I don't know.

Maureen said...

I cross posted with mirmac1. NWSIL doesn't appear to be residential.

Melissa Westbrook said...

From what I understand this particular program is residential (that's what I understood from the Ex Ctm meeting discussion). You'd have to ask. For that cost, I suspect it's residential.

Jet City mom said...

Its not residential, & it has sites in Kirkland & Tacoma.
Wonder what the outcome of the lawsuit was.
http://www.king5.com/news/tacoma_school_aspergers-121605199.html

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jet City Mom, I let the Board know about this at the C&I meeting and they asked and the rep knew nothing about the outcome of this lawsuit. I let the Board know it would be a good idea to know BEFORE they sign anything.

Libby said...

Thank you, Melissa. I appreciate your willingness to share the history and background behind Our Schools Coalition. Very helpful to those of us who are new to SPS.