Friday, August 21, 2015

Nyland on SEA Talks

Parents and Community,
The Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and Seattle Education Association (SEA) began negotiations May 20 to achieve a new collective bargaining contract. SEA represents educators, substitutes, paraprofessionals, instructional assistants and office professionals. The current contract with SEA expires August 31. The educators and staff in our schools are crucial to student success. Due to the importance of our teachers and instructional staff and significance of this agreement to our students, I want to keep you updated on our progress. A previous update was sent to parents and community on August 10.

Higher Standards
Higher standards (college and career readiness) as well as state mandates will require us to provide students with more instructional time at the primary and secondary level. In order to provide elementary students with social and emotional learning, academic assurances, as well as lunch and recess and graduate high school students with 24 credits and college and career readiness, we’ll need to provide more instructional time. The district is proposing to add thirty (30) minutes of instructional time to the school day for students, to support higher standards and state mandates.

(Editor's note; the Superintendent does not make clear - as most supporters of Common Core do not - that the "college ready" means community college and not 4-year colleges.)

Special Education (SPED)
There is significant work to do to support our special education students. SPS Special Education department, under the direction of Wyeth Jesse, has worked very hard to meet compliance challenges, and continues efforts on meeting legal assurances. To that end, SPS has offered a proposal that would maintain ratios of Special Education Instructional Assistants (IAs), and also work to ensure paraprofessionals are appropriately assigned work in buildings, to support the legal assurances our special education students need.

(Editor's note: the Superintendent says nothing about how the district/City will support Sped preschoolers who enroll in the City's preschools and the costs to the district.)

Equity and the Achievement Gap
Both the district and SEA care deeply about these issues. I am confident we will find common ground to address equity issues to close the achievement gap.

(Editor's note: this is the best the district can say on this huge issue?  Meanwhile there is this district info which I have sought more clarity on.  It's an odd thing given how passionately both Directors Martin-Morris and Blanford have spoken on this issue and yet the Superintendent doesn't even mention this to "parents and community.")

Compensation is an issue both the district and SEA are working on to find mutual ground. SEA has proposed a salary increase of 21% over a three year contract period. SPS has countered with a salary increase of 7% over the same three year contract period.

(Editor's note: Really? Because McCleary gives teachers a raise (I believe it is 3% over two years which is too little.  But 21%? That's a lot of posturing.)

SEA meets on Monday, August 24 for members to vote on a tentative agreement, or a union action plan. I’ll continue to update you on our progress together and post updates on the district web site.


Anonymous said...

Teachers are getting a COLA, which is not a raise, merely an adjustment to salary based on inflation. Teachers are still owed about 9 more years worth of COLA to catch up to the current level.
Legislators gave themselves an 11.2% pay raise over 2 years. Teachers asking for a 21% increase over 3 years (meaning 7% per year) isn't much more, especially given the increases in benefit costs and housing that will offset much of the increase. And given the paltry offering from SPS, why not go big and bold to start.


Anonymous said...

If my job were in communications, instead of high school teacher, I'd be able to quickly detail all the brilliantly marketed beauties in this piece of propaganda.

Because the district has no real systems in place for helping kids who need help, other than blaming teachers, the people in the buildings and dumping more and more crap on their heads and into their laps, The Solution is to extend our day.

How many high school teachers don't have enough time to do enough for their kids with all the extra hours they already put in? If our day is longer, under the control of the people who mismanage everything, then the people who mismanage everything will somehow miraculously manage this extra 1/2 hour so kids get the help they need.

Does the press release mention that the district waited until Mon. 17 Aug. to say "reject" to everything SEA, instead of telling SEA weeks ago, along the way, that there were problems and where the problems were?

Nyland's piece comes straight from the kinds of people who write or wrote Corp-0-RAT press releases, the kinds of people who make over $100,000 a year in the various 'not-for-profit' ed deform astro-turfs funded by the Gate$ Foundation.

IF teachers won't be mismanaged into the latest deform-drivel-du-jour, then teachers aren't for higher standards.


Anonymous said...

Did he mention that the 2% he was giving teachers this year was contingent on adding a 1/2 hour to our workday? This is 90 hours extra per year. When you factor in the hourly wage, this is about $4,000-6,000 a year. The 2% is about $900 a year. Then you factor in the increased health care costs. The end result is that teachers end up losing money overall, AGAIN, even though the district is receiving an extra $38 million this year from the state. Where is that money going to??? Probably the bloat at the top. Did he mention that when they suggested an extra half hour, it was only for the certificated staff, not the IAs or office staff? How does that work when there are Special Education students in classes with no one to support them, and no staff in the office to answer phone calls or do the million things that office staff does to support students, staff, and parents? And before anyone starts in on teachers asking for a raise when they should be thinking of the students, I am not a martyr. I have my own bills to pay and family to feed and my salary is what does this. This is my profession and I deserve to be paid a fair wage for my education, my experience, and for ALL that I do. I refuse to add more to my plate without being fairly compensated for that time, as well as the lost wages that were promised to us a few years ago. The economy has rebounded, it's time to repay educators and make teachers and the students the district's number one priority.

Union proud

Anonymous said...

I have a huge issue with ED USA and planning time. In MATH we find that using TIMSS results the USA is doing pretty good, especially considering poverty and a very diverse population, but could be doing better. The really high scoring countries are all east Asian, where they have a lot more planning time as well as more homogeneous populations. (Finland is not doing well.. check TIMSS results)

If Nyland wants to add 30 minutes, it should be 30 minutes more for planning and paid for. However that will not get kids 30 minutes more instruction but it will produce better instruction.

I am still puzzled as to why 24 credits would be a graduation requirement for all. Who decided that and where is it written in stone? Lots of students graduate with 24 credits and it has been that way for over 50 years. .... Most high schools have a 6 period day and that makes 24 credits available right now.... so why the 30 more minutes of instruction? Please explain the need for 30 more minutes of instruction per day?

-- Inquiring Mind

Anonymous said...

"Higher standards (college and career readiness) as well as state mandates will require us to provide students with more instructional time at the primary and secondary level."

Where can I find these state mandates?

-- Inquiring Mind

Anonymous said...

RCW 28A.150.220 Basic education — Minimum instructional requirements — Program accessibility — Rules.

(2) Each school district shall make available to students the following minimum instructional offering each school year:

(a) For students enrolled in grades one through twelve, at least a district-wide annual average of one thousand hours, which shall be increased beginning in the 2015-16 school year to at least one thousand eighty instructional hours for students enrolled in grades nine through twelve and at least one thousand instructional hours for students in grades one through eight, all of which may be calculated by a school district using a district-wide annual average of instructional hours over grades one through twelve; and

(b) For students enrolled in kindergarten, at least four hundred fifty instructional hours, which shall be increased to at least one thousand instructional hours according to the implementation schedule under RCW 28A.150.315.

(3) The instructional program of basic education provided by each school district shall include:

(a) Instruction in the essential academic learning requirements under RCW 28A.655.070;

(b) Instruction that provides students the opportunity to complete twenty-four credits for high school graduation, beginning with the graduating class of 2019 or as otherwise provided in RCW 28A.230.090. Course distribution requirements may be established by the state board of education under RCW 28A.230.090;

(c) If the essential academic learning requirements include a requirement of languages other than English, the requirement may be met by students receiving instruction in one or more American Indian languages;

... and lots more stuff follows

"shall consist of a minimum of one hundred eighty school days per school year"

for high school 1,080 hrs divided by 180 days = 6 hours per day

The state has counted passing times between classes as instructional time.
The original 4 period day at West Seattle yields 4X85 = 340 minutes + 10 minutes passing = 350 minutes for State instructional time.

Looks like 10 more minutes would do it to keep state happy... but Dr. Larry Nyland wants 30 minutes. Note 4x90 = 6hrs. and that requires 20 additional minutes not 30.
I think that passing time still counts as instructional time.

-- Inquiring Mind

Charlie Mas said...

Where is the kibbitzing that we usually see from the League of Education Voters, the Alliance for Education's Our Schools Committee, and all of the other Education Reform Organizations who used to want a seat at the table during contract negotiations?

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't RCW 28A.150.220 2a read,
all(plural) of which may be calculated by a school district using a district-wide annual averages(plural) of instructional hours over (said grade ranges)?


Anonymous said...

Inquiring, you left out 30 minutes for lunch. The real problem here is that the state has let these laws come in to play (voted on several years ago), and is not sending any additional funding to any district for them. I stand with SEA in their demands and don't trust the higher-ups at SPS at all, but the state is really the problem.

Glad I left Seattle

Anonymous said...

Comparing 7-8 grade with 9-12 grade. If the law has the same class sizes, but 9-12 law requires more hours, the state would have to fund the 9-12 per pupil rate at 1.08 times the 7-8 per pupil rate, to comply with their own system.

The district pays 9-12 teachers 1.08 times more for the extra hours, or adds 8% more teachers and not up the hourly coverage

ProSleep Mom said...

At the May (I think) C & I meeting, Tolley said that they needed to extend the day by 15 minutes to meet the new requirements, I think by going to block schedules. The context here was bell times, and thinking about how that would impact the new bell schedules under consideration- and the conclusion was that 15 minutes would be OK.

Is the 30 minutes additional a negotiating stance and they will then back down to 15? Or, if I was feeling paranoid, a way to scuttle the bell time change? I certainly hope it's the former...

If the day does go longer, there will be legitimate concern about kids getting out late and going home in the dark. We should remember that currently high school students, with an average commute 5 or more times that of an typical elementary student travel to school in the dark several months of the year. At least with the later times, they will have a better chance at adequate sleep and be safer drivers.

Lynn said...

A year or two ago the state increased funding to cover six periods a day for high school. The problem with the 24 credit requirement is that there is no funding for summer school if a student fails a class. If this isn't corrected by the legislature, we'll have a whole bunch of fifth year seniors on our overcrowded high school campuses.

In the calculation of minimum instructional hours, passing periods in secondary schools and recess in elementary schools are included - lunch time is not. Our high schools have enough minutes in the day - as long as we don't have late starts, early releases or professional development days. I was happy to see that Garfield plans to pull students out of classes for testing next year - their previous practice resulted in the loss of over a week of instructional time over the course of a year. Elementary schools are required to provide 5 hours 33 minutes of instruction a day for 180 days without late starts, early releases or breaks for professional development.

The district was aware this requirement was coming long before bargaining with the SEA began. Why wasn't this settled last spring?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Lynn, why wasn't this settled? Because in the district playbook, near the top it says,"Do EVERYTHING at the last minute." It forces all involved to scramble and puts the Board on the defensive (at least most Boards and most Board members - ask questions and you'll get scolded).

That scolding thing on the dais? Gotta stop.

n said...

I agree in sentiment with every post above esp. those by the teachers. I think there are differences between the needs of HS, MS and elementary so my comments are elementary-relevant. The extra half hour is not a problem for me because I am benefited by having more prep time during school and my kids are benefited by a longer lunch. Part of that half hour needs to address those concerns. It isn't addressed in the sup's letter how that half hour is to be used so I'm applying it as I think it should be used. My acceptance of the extra half hour depends on its application. Will that be left to each school to determine? If it results in a less-rushed day, for me it is a benefit. Many schools nationally have gone to a longer school day.

Money? Again we are all underpaid for the time we put in and the responsibility and demands made of us. That's a given. I understand and agree with the increasingly negative feelings that are becoming more prevalent among teachers regarding pay. I also feel like the supe's comments are full of platitudes. It is disappointing and it feels disingenuous.

Lynn said...

From the Washington Post -https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/08/21/why-young-kids-need-less-class-time-and-more-play-time-at-school/

Maybe elementary schools need less instructional time - not more. Finland's schedule of 45 minutes of instruction followed by 15 minutes of recess seems to work. Their children begin school (at seven years) with around 20 hours per week and ramp up to 30 hours a week by high school. Their teachers average four hours a day of instruction - which allows plenty of time for planning and collaboration.


Our system is unhealthy for both students and teachers.

n said...

Lynn, I absolutely agree with you and at the same time have to acknowledge that our societies are very different. So I can argue both sides of it. Less is more if done properly and yet what does life look like for kids who come from poverty? Is less more for them?

I've done a lot listening and reading about Finland's schools. Their teachers are selected with extreme care and rigorous academic demands and they are well paid. Their society is more homogeneous and with a social safety net that should make Americans cry with envy. Give me a social democracy that's the equivalent to the Scandinavian countries and I will agree on four-hour school days for kids.

Americans never seem to learn from the success of others. We think of ourselves as the innovators of the world and our sense of exceptionalism keeps us rooted in the status quo. And our system is unhealthy for students and teachers. Our society is unhealthy for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Why are teachers willing at all to concede to state legislative mandates? If the state legislature has amped up graduation requirements and seat time, I agree with the intent in certain respects; but why should teachers respect any of these state mandates when the bodies of congress are quite happy to respond to their own legal execution of state law with cavalier whimsy, even defiantly objecting when the state supreme court says, No, really, that's the law. Why follow a law passed by legislature when it costs the district a great deal of money (or it should -- certainly more than a 2% raise, for example, for 30 minutes plus the other minutes that will support those 30), and the state legislature won't pay? Why should teachers or school districts throughout the state panic and scramble to comply with law set up by legislators whose own reactions to law is slow, casual and disdainful?

-- Scrambling

n said...

Besides striking, what can we do? Isn't it in the hands of administrators and school boards to look out for their community's kids and schools if not teachers?

seattle citizen said...

SEA sent out message: no agreement yet; still meeting Monday but no more talks 'til Tuesday (?!); and a linked survey about a couple of points.
I wonder why a meeting Monday if no contract to vote on?

Anonymous said...

Glad I left Seattle ... wrote:

Inquiring, you left out 30 minutes for lunch.

No I did not, as lunch has nothing to do with instructional time.

In fact in 2006-2007 West Seattle had about a 45 minute lunch as there was no way the school could feed lunch to all. So the long lunch made it possible for students to get lunch off campus and return on time.

-- Inquiring Mind

Anonymous said...

Hum. There are a lot of things we can change here and the societal support that a social democratic/ European country offer is not one of them. Sorry Barry! I mean the candidate not the POTUS.

Fact is those countries pay you to stay home with your family. Fact is they actually have real vacation time and aren't incarcerating 10% of their populace. Fact is that US still has the highest productivity because they work the heck out of folks.

... And the real fact is that we are a better society because of boot strap mentality and self reliance leading to innovation... But not as good as we could be because we jail and over pay the .1%


Anonymous said...

n believes the US should learn from the success in Finland. There is no Finish Math Success to which the US should aspire.

Math performance in Finland has been declining. Finland has not been keeping pace with even the US in math achievement.

Here is a current reality check looking at the percents of students in each country achieving the Advanced benchmark score of 625 in 8th grade math
From TIMSS 2011 results:

At the eighth grade, clearly the East Asian countries, particularly Chinese
Taipei, Singapore, and Korea, are pulling away from the rest of the world by
a considerable margin.
Capitalizing on the head start demonstrated by their
fourth grade students, these same five East Asian countries had by far the largest
percentages of eighth grade students reaching the Advanced International
Very impressively, Chinese Taipei, Singapore, and Korea had nearly
half of their students (47–49%) reach the Advanced International Benchmark.
Hong Kong SAR had about one-third (34%) reach this level, and Japan had over
one-fourth (27%). Next, the Russian Federation and Israel had 14 and 12 percent, respectively.

USA 7%
Finland 4%

On the TIMSS grade 8 Math the US is ahead of Finland albeit far behind the high-performing Asian nations that actually teach and learn mathematics.

Finland is bad enough that top leadership spoke out in a public letter:

The PISA survey tells only a partial truth of Finnish children's mathematical skills

However, mathematics teachers in universities and polytechnics are worried, as in fact the mathematical knowledge of new students has declined dramatically. As an example of this one could take the extensive TIMSS 1999 survey, in which Finnish students were below the average in geometry and algebra. As another example, in order not to fail an unreasonably large amount of students in the matriculation exams, recently the board has been forced to lower the cut-off point alarmingly. Some years, 6 points out of 60 have been enough for passing.

A proper mathematical basis is needed especially in technical and scientific areas, biology included. The PISA survey tells very little about this basis, which should already be created in comprehensive school. Therefore, it would be absolutely necessary that, in the future, Finland would participate also in international surveys which evaluate mathematical skills essential for further studies.

Kari Astala, Professor of Mathematics, University of Helsinki, President of Finnish Mathematical Society
Simo K. Kivelä, Senior Lecturer, Helsinki University of Technology
Pekka Koskela, Professor of Mathematics, University of Jyväskylä
Olli Martio, Professor of Mathematics, University of Helsinki
Dr. Marjatta Näätänen, Senior Lecturer, University of Helsinki
Dr. Kyösti Tarvainen, Senior Lecturer, Helsinki Polytechnic Stadia
and 201 mathematics teachers in universities and polytechnics

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

"If the day does go longer, there will be legitimate concern about kids getting out late and going home in the dark."

I wonder how other parents feel about extending the school day by thirty minutes.

David Edelman

Anonymous said...


It would be in testing to see what the actual classroom instructional time is during the course of the school year. Subtract minutes for late starts, early release, shortened classes caused by assemblies, and less than 180 days with waivers for faculty training.

My guess is if running a strictly academic day and academic year, absent the Professional Development (that is not) and PLCs, a great deal of instructional time could be added within the current day and year.

Here is how to add ten minutes >>> 180 days x 10 min/day = 1800 minutes = 30 hours = 5 school days. Have SPS and/or legislature cover the full cost of 5 additional school days.

I am tired of unfunded mandates. If Nyland wants 30 minutes per day more, where is the funding for 15 additional school days?

Where are the SEA and Knapp on this?
Inquiring Question

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Americans never seem to learn from the success of others."

I believe that is true. What ed reformers never like to admit is that there is no other country doing what we do to "improve" public education. Not charters, not TFA, not massive testing.

Anonymous said...

30 minutes more could give the 3 lunch shifts 30 minutes in the lunch room rather than the 20 minutes scheduled now. An extra half hour is desperatly needed. Parents aren't home until 5:30 or 6:00 and kids are just sitting in daycare anyhow. Let them have a more relaxed pace at school.
West Parent

Lynn said...

West Parent,

There is no reason the principal can't schedule longer lunches now. The cafeteria is unused for the 15 minutes before the first lunch starts and the 15 minutes after the third lunch ends. There is no reason the pace at school can't be more relaxed within the current schedule. If children were given more recess time, they'd be more attentive in the classroom and teachers would be able to cover the same amount of material. Finally, my child is not sitting in daycare after school, and I don't want his school days to be extended and take over valuable unstructured play time.

Anonymous said...

Inquiring Question,

At my school, instructional time could easily be increased without lengthening the school day, in the ways that you suggested.

In the missive we received from Dr. Nyland, he said, "The district is proposing to add thirty (30) minutes of instructional time to the school day for students, to support higher standards and state mandates." I'm not familiar with "state mandates" he refers to, but I would question the easy assumption that more instructional hours necessarily correlates with increased academic achievement. Here are some figures for grades 10-12 from Linda Darling-Hammond's The Flat World and Education:

Korea = 1020 instructional hours per year
Finland = 713 instructional hours per year
Japan = 719 instructional hours per year

According to Darling-Hammond, instructional hours per year in the US typically range from 900 to 1080.

Where are the SEA and Knapp on this? I would hope that Jonathan Knapp and the bargaining team would be doing their homework. The district's bargaining team (and state legislators, for that matter) should be unrelentingly confronted with research that contradicts their assumptions about seat-time. And once they have their facts in order, they should unrelentingly publicize them.

For my part, I question the district's claim that it wants to hire and retain effective teachers. If that were the case, then it wouldn't constantly treat its teaching corps with disrespect. How is it respectful to propose increasing the school day without proportionally increasing our pay?

David Edelman

Anonymous said...

I do not think that elementary students need a longer day. If anything, they need a shorter one to be able to play outside with their friends.

I disagree with the notion of transforming schools into full day child care operations.

I agree that instructional time could be increased without increasing the school day, at least in elementary (only experience I have). Just decreasing the amount of silent reading would that.


Anonymous said...

Our child's middle school has a daily 30 min homeroom, but the time is not fully their own for doing homework, etc. They do some scripted anti-bullying/social/emotional programs for a portion of that time. My child thinks it's a waste of time. If they have an extra 30 min on top of that, how will it be used? My child spends enough time at school already. We don't consider the school's purpose to a supplier of free child care. We send our kids to school to learn.

West Parent, lunch is not considered instructional time. Adding time to lunch, though it may be beneficial for other reasons, will not increase the number of instructional hours. Supervised time, such as homeroom and recess, however, would count toward instructional hours.

What bothers me most is how this is coming out of the blue, with little notice to parents or schools. It's just weeks before school is scheduled to start and what, they are just going to change the school day schedule? Shouldn't they have had that conversation with teaching staff well before contract negotiations? There might have been a bit more buy-in.


Anonymous said...

@ David Edelman, the idea to increase instructional time isn't a Nyland or SPS idea, it's what the state legislature now requires. I'm not sure how much good it will do for the SEA to go in saying that research doesn't support it at this point. It seems that ship has sailed.

@ Nolong, decreasing the amount of silent reading would not increase increase instructional time. Silent reading during the school day already counts as instructional time. As does recess. I think even parent-teacher conferences count, even though kids often aren't there and it's only one family at a time.

@ Lynn, longer lunches would cut into instructional time. A longer lunch recess doesn't, but a longer lunch period does. So that might be a reason principals don't extend lunch. If you want a longer lunch, you might need a longer day, regardless of whether or not it also adds instructional time.

@ Inquiring Question, are you suggesting they eliminate PD and PLC time to increase instructional time by eliminating all those early release or non-school days? My impression was that teachers WANT planning and coordination time, but I could be wrong. They might not want all the PD, but the district has a LOT of PD needs...


Anonymous said...

Thanks HF for the clarification.

I would much prefer a longer school year then. And have the legislature pay for it.


Anonymous said...


I have read that a fifteen-minute increase in the school day would satisfy state requirements; yet, Dr. Nyland is proposing a thirty-minute increase of the school day. If the research suggests that increasing seat-time won't necessarily increase student achievement, what is the point of stretching fifteen minutes into thirty?

As far as the legislature is concerned . . . oh, never mind. Best not to get started on them.

What does it mean to say that the district has "PD needs"? I readily admit that my "PD needs," based as they are on the demands of my job, don't match up with what the district thinks is my "PD needs." Sometimes the district offers PD I want; often it does not. Why is that? I sometimes think it's because I care about the reality of teaching my students, while district administrators care about the appearance of promoting educational objectives.

David Edelman

Anonymous said...

Parent-teacher conferences do not count as instructional time when done as full days (like with Thanksgiving week conferences where there is no school for the entire week). If it's 10 min a day they are trying to add, that's 5 full days of school (6 hrs of instructional time per day). P-T conferences, done over Thanksgiving week, use up 3 days.

Anonymous said...

RCW 28a.150.220 lists all the required hours.


Anonymous said...

For those wanting FAQs on the state requirements for instructional hours:


According to the FAQs, full day P-T conferences can count toward instructional hours.


Anonymous said...

@ David Edelman,

Given the district's track record and trends, regardless of whether they want it, teachers could probably use PD on many things, including:

- special ed (not just for sped teachers, e.g., recognizing students who need referral, serving those in inclusive classrooms, etc.)
- enforcing rules on field trips, title 9 compliance, etc.
- strategies for providing differentiated instruction (in classrooms with increasingly diverse ranges of abilities)
- ELL services (since required at all schools now)
- unique needs of and instructional strategies for serving gifted students
- cultural competency and making lessons more relevant for underperforming minority groups
- positive discipline strategies
- new curricula (follow up PD on the new elem math, future PD on a new secondary math curriculum hopefully before long, PD on the new middle school SS curriculum, follow up PD on implementing common core, PD on the various new "scope and sequence" changes and lesson plans/guidelines the district has been working on, PD on horizontal and vertical alignment across schools, etc.
- probably lots of other things, including PD on things that actually matter to teachers...

Now that doesn't suggest that the PD is any good, but that's a different issue. And this is not to suggest that these are all "teacher" issues, where the teachers are the ones falling down on the job. But problems at the district level trickle down, and teachers are the ones that have to deal with them.


Anonymous said...

How are schools not meeting the current instructional hour requirements? Back of the envelope calculations:

Elementary school day is 6 hours, 10 min, less time for lunch is 5 hours, 40 min.
x180 days = 1020 hours. (5) 2-hr early release days is less 10 hours, then (2) 1 hour early release days is less 2 more hours. 1020-12 = 1008 hours.


Anonymous said...

"Because in the district playbook, near the top it says,"Do EVERYTHING at the last minute."

Unfortunately this is somewhat typical District behavior in bargaining.
It HAS been worse: Imagine being on a bargaining team, with meetings starting in the beginning of the school year, educators getting release time (sometimes full day, sometimes half day) to begin discussions with the District. Well, after having the District team be MIA the first, second, third, fourth scheduled meetings, we would never knew whether these folks would show up or not. And they did not start showing up until February.
That was my experience on the bargaining team a few contracts ago.

And then, just like now, the push is to rush things at the end (late late sessions) just to tire out the SEA team to make sure that little really changes in Seattle Public Schools--and that the flavor of the month at the JSCEE can make decisions according to whatever or whomever.

BTW folks on the District bargaining team receive nice bonuses just for being on the team. This practice still continues today (sort of like administrators getting bonuses for great test scores by working at a school with good test scores).
Although some of the people on the District team had some understanding of the issues being discussed had they ever spent time out in the schools, many did not have any understanding of students, teaching and learning, and working conditions other than what they had just been told. For the most part, they were bodies without any real authority on the team.

Then when people started talking about certain issues, you got told by the District's lead negotiator that s/he was not authorized to have those conversations or make those decisions.

Those of us on the SEA side? Well, we received no bonuses, unless you consider release time to participate in the bargain the bonus. Our substitutes were covered though.
Remember all of those meetings I mentioned where the District team was MIA? I still resent to this day the fact that those meetings where we waited for the District to show up --and didn't, not even for an hour--meant that our students missed valuable instructional time that could never be made up. Although I had the same wonderful substitute teacher for each release day (I think of him as my co-teacher for that year),I would have rather been in my classroom with my students.

Today we see shades of the past: For this bargain, Wyeth Jesse, the District's head of Special Education, did not show up at any of the bargaining sessions between SEA and S.P.S. to discuss Special Education, including those dates that the District chose to discuss the topic and he was scheduled to be there. The District team didn't either....

This does not lead to win - win. This is not "all about the children" or understanding that educator working conditions are student learning conditions. The process on the District side tends towards CONTROL as the primary focus ("Data shows..." "Which data? Johns Hopkins studies show otherwise." "I am sorry, but that is not the data we are interested in.")
This stuff gets old. The arrogance and disrespectful behavior are still appalling. Although I do not support mayoral control of the schools, I really wish we could change things for the better.

--Baile Funk

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I sometimes think it's because I care about the reality of teaching my students, while district administrators care about the appearance of promoting educational objectives."

David is right. The district seems to be moving more and more towards "show" rather "outcomes." There's a lot of movement and sound and "creation" of new initiatives but, as Charlie has often pointed out, they fall quietly by the wayside.

With every new layer of bureaucracy at JSCEE between the teachers and the Superintendent (and that's exactly what the new Chief of Schools, an internal hire as it turns out and a good one), you wonder about what is really happening.

seattle citizen said...

2002 or so. In the JSCEE lobby, at the end of counter pointing at the wall is digital projector, something that every teacher at that time wanted but didn't have (unless they bought it themselves.)
The one in the lobby of JSCEEEEEEEE! was "showing off" the advanced state of district technology by pointing at the wall all day showing just one slide: the day's room schedule. A task a simple white board had previously handled admirably.....Show.

Anonymous said...

What is shockingly apparent is that planning time in the schools of high performing nations is much greater than in US schools. Yet this is never mentioned in negotiations, proposed legislation, or the media.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Hello hello hello,

The sbac info is now out and as it if could not have been predicated easily enough, it looks like students with disabilities did bad. The worst? Anyway, almost 70% didn't meet standard? How is this info factoring into the negotiations +/-?


n said...

I think we should learn from everyone. Where did I say just Finland? We talk a lot about Finland because they have had a reputation for high scores. High scores seem to move around. Just like statistics change over time and just like statistics can be manipulated to prove whatever point one wishes depending on the questions asked, the measurements taken and all kinds of kinky little tweaks statisticians put into the process. Go ask the Republicans and the Democrats how they get their poll numbers! No more numbers and blame about talking to social democracies most of which score much higher than we do personal happiness, healthcare, longevity, infant mortality and a host of other things. At one time we were all envying Japan, then Finland and now it seem China - at least in the math department. And all of those schools are much more inclusive of humanities in the school day regardless of age. Regardless of how their governments operate, they do have much more child-friendly practices than the US whether time out for art, dance, additional and longer recesses, they are much-more child-aware than we are. We are an industrious country who wants more, more and more. You said it. Do we need to expect that from children as well? We are not a happier society for demanding all that work. In fact, I think we are a failing society. Take Amazon and shov* it.

And if you care to read my response to Lynn on another thread, there is no real comparison from one society to another. Too many variables. But we certainly can still learn from those social democracies which are without doubt doing better for their children than we are. Oh, and how about incarceration?

We tend to want to borrow curricula from other countries - how do they teach blah blah blah? But we need to be borrowing societal conventions like healthcare for all; nutritious meals for every child; yes, more recess and down time for elementary; longer breaks during the day for kids and teachers; and earlier starts (younger) for kids who come from poverty. And much, much more.

And I will repeat for the umpteenth time that HS,MS, and elementary are different with different needs. I wish posters would identify their level of teaching. It helps me put their thoughts in context.

n said...


@Lynn - have you considered home schooling half day? There are so many children who find school a safe zone and need the best that schools have to offer - sense of fitting in, nutrition - such that it is, teachers who talk to them in a quiet, loving way, learning instead of watching tv. I care about those kids. We are here for them.

@David E.
I have sat through so much unnecessary and often really bad PD that I dread going to it.

Nice list of expertise we are supposed to have on everything. You just made our case for higher pay. Thanks. BTW, an afternoon or after-school workshop doesn't meet the needs you describe above. Those things should be covered before teachers ever step into the classroom. Send your list to colleges of education and see if you can get more relevant teacher training started.

Planning time! Planning time! Planning time! We are smart but done in at the end of the day. I used to be creative now I'm expected to just do curricula - follow the program. If that's what we do and only what we - no enrichment or art, yeah I guess we can get it in although I might have to eliminate the half-hour-to-hour in the computer lab and ]library which is now half-time at my school anyway and the birthday celebrations and the assemblies and the hat day/hair day/storybook costume day/etc. (which I wouldn't miss at all) and the field trips and probably a dozen other things I've forgotten for the moment.

There is no right or wrong here. I want kids to have a reasonable lunch and I would like to have some extra planning time because I have twenty-six six-year-olds who are pretty much rushed through the instructional part of the day everyday. Oh, and our PE teacher keeps complaining that he doesn't see the kids enough hours during the year. And everybody loves their PE teacher.

So much for venting. Maybe I'll move to China and get my three-to-four hour days with kids and enjoy way more planning time! Having said this, I know that schools in every country have differences. Maybe we really need to revisit what school is and start teaching in earnest and leaving some of the fluffy stuff behind. I know my friend in China never celebrates birthdays. That's not what school is for where she teaches.

So, what do we really want Seattle Schools to do? What do we have to pare down to get there? Can we even agree on that?

Elementary Teacher

n said...

BTW, aren't those the things that SEA is supposed to be deciding with admin? Win-win negotiating would result in a better understanding of just what Seattle Schools and SEA think is important and would precisely target what we are supposed to be doing for kids at every level and then deliver a plan for hitting that target. And Nyland's generalities don't get us there. What exactly is his vision?

Anonymous said...

You said it, Baile Funk. The district's long-established strategy is to run out the clock with a lot of game-playing, and then try to pressure the union into accepting an ill-considered contract at the last moment.

Disrespectful? Yes, of course. It reflects the general attitude of disrespect that too many district administrators exhibit toward the people who are working to teach young people in the classrooms. It has always struck me as ironic that while I'm striving to create a positive atmosphere of caring, respect, and good will in my classroom, I work in a district where these characteristics are often absent.

David Edelman

Melissa Westbrook said...

N, I just talked to someone who is considering a run for State Superintendent next year and told him just what you said - that teachers want PD but often don't get the kinds they want/need and dread sitting thru yet another useless PowerPoint.

I can't even count how many times teachers have told me that over the years.

Anonymous said...

Birthdays are not what school is for. We have a "me" culture. Parties are for families and prestige in China, not for children in school. We promote self-indulgence and teach it in school with birthdays, and use instructional time to do it. With such large classes we cannot take 15-30min per kid away from instructional time. With 10 kids per class, sure, be indulgent. 28 kids? No way. We are forced to think more communally. Have birthdays on your own time.
Biases Showing

Anonymous said...

At least one candidate in my district Michael Christophersen has some good ideas to rein in the administration. I cant find anything on the other candidate Scott Pinkham.

You would think we would be hearing more comments out of all the candidates regarding what's going on with the CBA and the other proposed changes. Reading each of the candidate's statements I can find on the web, it looks like most are NOT taking strong positions, but playing it safe. I think the media couldn't care less about whats going on, hopefully things will heat up after school starts. As a parent I just see 2 more years of the same old same old coming.

Hale Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Hale Parent, the SEA is not sending out press releases on the CBA. What the candidates know is probably from what I report here unless they have teacher friends. I expect them to know the issues being debated but not what is "going on with the CBA."

I will have some updates on the candidates soon but I note that the only two candidates who stood outside of Benaroya Hall yesterday when the SEA members met were Jill Geary and Leslie Harris who took any and all questions.

I see that Mr. Christophersen finally has a webpage and I'll put up a link with the new candidate thread.

mirmac1 said...

Ok. I'm guessing Kelly Aramaki as COS. Well, there could've been far worse and I have some respect for his values. To date, it seems he's been an island: enjoys strong support from families but could easily be shafted by the career-climbers, bosses, and fault-deniers downtown.

Anonymous said...

Mirmac, have you ever seen Aramaki follow through on a single thing? No. Nice guy. No follow through.

been there