Tuesday, April 6, 2010

An Exciting Day

An exciting effort was launched today. The Alliance, in conjunction with 13 other community organizations and several community leaders, issued a joint statement advocating for specific changes to the Seattle Public Schools teacher contract, scheduled to be renegotiated beginning next week. This group, “Our Schools Coalition,” commissioned a citywide poll of Seattle taxpayers, public school parents and teachers. The survey demonstrated overwhelming support for the proposed changes.

Teacher quality is the single biggest point of leverage in the system. A great teacher is the single largest predictor of student success. A strong, vibrant teacher corps, where great teachers are acknowledged, rewarded and supported, will have a demonstrable, positive impact on student achievement.

Guided by a set of core principles that put student success and teacher support at the fore, Our Schools Coalition is advocating for increased teacher preparation and peer collaboration time as well as expanded mentoring and coaching programs. The group also proposes moving to a 4-tier teacher evaluation system, factoring student academic growth into teacher evaluations, and factoring performance into staffing decisions, including placement, transfers and layoffs. Finally, the coalition advocates opening up new career paths and compensation opportunities for teachers that go beyond seniority and credentialing, as well as opening up the teaching field to organizations such as Teach for America.

To view the statement, see the polling data, and sign on, go to www.ourschoolscoalition.org.

Sara Morris, President &CEO, AFE


  1. Well, we've already seen the "polling data" in the Seattle Times, eh? How DID you get the reporter to ignore all the questions and complaints that have been raised in the community about your biased push-poll and your slanted survey? What, you don't mention the survey above, only the poll? Could you please post here the survey questions, so the public can see how biased your mehtods are?

    I also saw a list of the members of your new Coalition, and besides the usual suspects, we see quite a few organizations that are involved with trying to help up struggling students. How DID you convince them that your Broad/Gates idea of "teacher quality" was the be-all and end-all of helping those communities? I'm sure that there are issues that these groups deal with, I'm well aware of most of them and I've seen the fine work many have done....but how did you get them to buy the line about "teacher quality"? Is it perhaps that their schools (these are mostly South East schools) have suffered the onslaught of poverty, environment, etc, that their educators struggle more than most because of this, that their teachers are somehow to blame?

    I know that many in the community have been dealing with racism and classism for centuries, and are grasping for anything that might help them (finally) overcome these oppressions, but "teacher quality"? There are way higger fish to fry, and I'm surprised that some of these organizations bought your snake oil.

  2. After Sunday afternoon, I have to congratulate the Alliance / Broad / Gates / NCTQ / Duncan ... message machines.

    I had to spend 1 hour discussing all kinds of Alliance style talking points, all kinds of Alliance style 'conventional wisdom', with 2 people who would NEVER go to bat for any kind of right wing agenda.

    I had to spend an hour because all the terms of discussion was happening within the context of Alliance framing. These reform teacher groups, these reform teacher articles in The Atlantic and the New York Times and Newsweek have defined how this issue is discussed, and teachers are on the defensive.

    After an hour, they asked me:

    1. Is this the best way to help our kids?
    2. WHERE is the data that will be used to evaluate the teachers? Who has access to it?
    3. WHERE is the data that will be used to evaluate the administrators and managers? Who has access to it?
    4. WHAT is the accountability timeline for the people instituting the teacher accountability?
    A. Will those instituting the accountability be fired in 3 or 5 years if their accountability project doesn't work?

    Our local, state and national union leadership deserves a huge percentage of the blame for this state of affairs. It has been coming for a few years, they have tens of millions of our dues every year, and their 'tactics' are straight out of the '80-'04 Democratic Party playbook - whine about the tactics of people willing to do anything to win.

    And the leaders and the minions of this Blame-The-Serfs-Not-The-Bosses project deserve their accolades - they are really turning the public against teachers, instead of enlisting the public to address the problems of our kids. Soon, we'll have a spawn of the serf class holding pen system which will be publicly funded, not accountable, and privately profitable to the well off and well connected.

    R. Murphy.

  3. Thank you for doing this! It's good to see somebody organizing to help the system create effective educators (principals, teachers,and all). I think the 9 requests for the teachers' contract are right on. Most of those actions support teachers and a few demonstrate tough love by saying we need to weed out bad teachers (and as hard as they work, there are some bad teachers. Just because they got a degree doesn't mean they have the talent to teach.).

    There will always be naysayers and sometimes what they say is valid. I think the Alliance is smart enough to take all useful information and feedback no matter where it comes from and make it work for educating kids. It would just be nice if the naysayers' message wasn't delivered in such a spiteful manner.

  4. F4k, do you believe it is appropriate for the Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools to be on both the Board of the Broad Foundation (which has given millions of dollars to be managed by the Alliance) AND the Board of the NWEA, which sells the district the MAP test which will evidently determine "teacher quality"?
    Do you believe the poll and survey administered by the Alliance are nuetral? have you seen either?
    Do you believe it is appropriate for an organization that purports to be "of the people" to be managers of nine million dollars that are given to the District for "Strategic Plan" purposes which include "measuring" educators using the MAP test, and then that same organzition, the Alliance, acts as a neutral advocate for students and educators while continuing to feed money and effort into "surveys" and "polls" which malign educators through biased questions?

  5. seattle citizen - I just have to thank you for your determination, passion, persistence, and down-right doggedness in keeping on challenging and peeling off the layers of duplicity the Alliance is plastering all around this city...

    I do what I can, but some days I just cant stomach spending the time needed to unravel the spin and decode/deconstruct what's really going on and the real agenda being pursued here...

    I wrote a much longer, rambling 'thank you' piece late last night that went into a lot of detail, data and facts about the Alliance/Broad/Gates etc, but (probably for the best) lost it when I tried to paste in a quote from Buckminster Fuller ...

    Again, to you and to Charlie and to gavroche and to Dora and to all the others who are so committed to lifting the rocks and exposing the real agenda ... thank you, thank you, thank you...

  6. Oh, and I meant to include MathTeacher42 in that as well... Mr Murphy - your passion and anger are inspiring...

  7. The post contains a number of factual errors that need to be corrected.

    1) "The survey demonstrated overwhelming support for the proposed changes."

    The survey didn't demonstrate anything other the biased results that come from a biased push-poll. I was one of the participants in both the online survey and the phone survey. Publish the survey questions as they were asked.

    2) "Teacher quality is the single biggest point of leverage in the system."

    This is untrue. First, "teacher quality" has not been defined or measured. Second, it isn't a "point of leverage" because it isn't clear that it can be changed. Where do you have data that shows effective means of improving teacher quality - oh, that's right, you couldn't have any since you don't have any measure of teacher quality.

    3) "A great teacher is the single largest predictor of student success."

    This is simply untrue. Do you have ANY data to support this patently false statement? I can't imagine that you do. The single largest predictor of student success is the active involvement in the student's education by an adult in the student's home. It has been demonstrated time and time again. To suggest anything else is bizarre beyond understanding.

    4) "Guided by a set of core principles that put student success and teacher support at the fore"

    Actually, this effort has put union-busting at the fore. That and nothing else.

  8. Why does the Alliance have a blog and create this opportunity to actively and inter-actively engage the community yet refuse to participate in the discussions on the blog?

  9. When I took the phone survey it began with some questions about rating the Mayor, the School Board, and the superintendent. Where are the results of those questions?

  10. Charlie, you know the answer to that - because they cant answer our questions, they cant be open about their real agenda, they cant say up front who/what is driving this and where the money is coming from ...

    They'll say its because we are combative, negative, have a fixed point of view, are misinformed.... but you write in the most 'reasonable' way here - you provide data, verifiable statements, logic, you stay relatively dispassionate, you ask reasoned questions... and even you dont get a response...

    That's because this blog is nothing but a PR tool and a false 'storefront' for this 'commitment to community engagement', an attempt to legitimise their (false) claim that they're a truly 'grassroots' organisation and represent/are the mouth piece for the ideas and wishes of the community....

  11. You know, a little compassion and a lot less judgment of teachers would go a long way....

    Try putting yourself in their shoes...

    There you are at (say) 8am, confronted with a room full of individuals who are each carrying their own baggage (and I'm not talking about backpacks here). Who may or may not be tired, hungry, anxious, depressed, jumpy, alert, eager, reluctant, happy, giggly, wiggly, angry, frightened, worried about home, sick or whatever... if they're teenagers, their brains arent even waking up until 11am, so they're pretty much out of it...

    And, if you're a primary school teacher, you've got the responsibility for engaging those people for the next six-seven hours, by yourself...

    All the responsibility of parenthood without much of the authority and emotional attachment, expected to do more than 50% of growing these unique quirky individuals (who have a developmentally appropriate but comparatively small capacity for self-direction) to maturity...

    So, as well as having to impart knowledge of some description, foster the development of thinking, self-management and social skills, you also have to manage and contain these beings, and hopefully make it an experience they will enjoy and be engaged in...

    Then you're handicapped because you have 30 kids - happy, sad, cantankerous, mischievious, serious, silly, peaceful, fighting, friends/enemies - confined for most of the day to a comparatively small space, forcing them to sit and pay attention when that's against their bodies' and brains' natural inclination... with inadequate resources and teaching materials....

    At lunch time, they're mostly eating/being fed junk food from the school cafeteria, which gives them erratic energy highs and lows...

    Then they might be pre-pubescent, with hormonal issues...

    Then they might have physical, cognitive and socialisation issues... dyslexia, ADHD, mild autism, poor vision or hearing, phobias, be 'sensitive' or 'highly strung', or alternatively be loud and in your face and know nothing at all about personal and group boundaries...

    Really - which of us parents or lobbyists wants to take on that job? How are you doing on a daily basis with your one, two or three children? How about extrapolating that out by a factor of 10?

    And we want to hold teachers accountable for individual childrens' progress based on standardised test scores? Come on... with all those variables operating in the classroom, how is that even reasonable?

    Think about it - how would you do in your workplace if you had to interact intensively with 30 people for 6-7 hours per day? How would you like to be told your job depends on how each of them does in standardised testing, and if they dont do well, its your fault?

  12. there's already a process in place to get rid of 'bad' teachers... its time to make sure that its used more often, and that's up to principals to do...

    So, if you have a beef about your child's teacher (and its not just a personality clash - its about poor teaching and poor class management) and it affects more than one child and you cant resolve it in the classroom, why aren't parents in a school getting together and dealing with this in-school with the principal?

    Why do we have to topple an entire system to fix one or two relatively minor issues?

    If you cant see that this teacher 'quality' performance/evaluation/management 'crisis' is nothing but a ploy to break the unions and to open the door for young, cheap, untrained people to be put in front of our kids to 'drill and kill' using scripted lesson plans, then you're looking at this with blinders on...

    And I am not a teacher and I realise that there are a small number of people who ought not to be in the job because they dont have the enthusiasm, energy, commitment, skill and talent to be there...

    But then - being honest... do YOU have the enthusiasm, energy, commitment, skill and talent to be in your job, or are you there just because you need a pay check, the benefits are good, you arent trained for anything else, you 'dont know what you want to do when you grow up' and hey, you are so close to retirement that it would be crazy to quit/switch jobs now? You're mediocre at your job, but not so bad that there are solid grounds for firing you - should you quit or should you be fired?

    I'm not condoning poor teaching and terrible teaching and kids having to endure that... but really - this problem is not as big as The Alliance and Arnie Duncan and Broad and Gates et al would have us believe...

    They're making a mountain out of a molehill, pointing the finger at the wrong people (for a really specific and deliberate reason) and throwing the baby out with the bathwater because they have another agenda... taking away the last of the control parents and teachers have in schools, and along the way, making lots and lots of money...

  13. If the Alliance really is interested in what I think needs to be addressed regarding teaching here in the US...

    I would advocate for some changes in teachers' working conditions....

    smaller classes with in-class support


    more paid prep time, so that they get reimbursed for the prep and grading they do after hours

    payment for help with extra-curricular activities within the school

    not so many teacher-only days during school time... I dont know what its like here, but in NZ and Australia teachers get paid all year round, including the longer summer break and I think professional development ought to happen then, not during school days...

    My inner holistic, learn through play, free-spirit oriented childhood advocate doesnt agree with this, but the other part of me would advocate for a longer school year - there are too many breaks and the summer one is ridiculously long (no one goes back to the farm these days to help with the harvest) for continuity of learning...


    I'd advocate for higher salaries for teachers, and for extra allowances for those who increase their skills by taking up professional development opportunities... and yes, I would pay more based on seniority....

    On the other hand, I'd advocate for a system where performance is assessed by students, parents, peers and principal... and if the consensus is that there is something going badly wrong in the classroom, that is attributable to poor management skills, lack of expertise, enthusiasm and energy then there ought to be a progressive system for dealing with that... verbal discussion with specific ideas for improvement and a commitment to implementation, with an equal commitment to support and oversight on the part of the principal... if there's insufficient 'change', then a written warning again with specific action steps to be implemented... and finally, if there's no real improvement, say over a period of six months-a year, termination...

    This process is normal in most other occupations and I can see nothing objectionable in it for teachers - seems eminently fair (to all parties) and sensible to me...

  14. With permission from JoanNE to post here:

    regarding performance management and teacher assessment, retainment and merit pay, based on standardised testing results:

    "How can anyone deny that improving teacher quality is paramount to improving education?...The teacher makes all the difference"

    Here is one example where TQ isn't everything:

    Force teachers to use a rotten k-12 math curriculum, eliminate all remedial math classes in high school, indiscriminately lump all ninth graders into a (psuedo)Algebra 1 classes; make Algebra a high school graduation requirement; have principals (in their capacity as Instructional Leaders), instructional directors, and instructional coaches monitoring teachers for fidelity to district pacing guides, eliminate popular electives to make way for CORE24, and deny course credit to kids who don't pass a district standardized assessment for the course, even if the teacher gives a passing grade.

    The results:

    1) No amount of money is sufficient to induce highly qualified teachers to seek jobs at title-1 schools;

    2) Lower quality instruction for students at all levels of preparedness at all high schools throughout the district (even the wealthier schools),

    3) higher drop out rates.

    Even if you could induce the best teachers to teach in the Title 1 schools under these conditions, you still wouldn't get good results, would you?

    The very best teachers cannot do much for the students in the most impoverished schools, under the constraints and conditions I just listed.

    Many but not all of the parameters I list are already in play in Seattle. But those that aren't here yet (CORE24, etc.) are coming soon!

  15. Good question, Charlie - where are the results about the Mayor, the Supt and the Board?

    On a related note, today's Times has an editorial rah-rahing the survey. Yet it only mentions the things having to do with "teacher quality," not the three things that relate to increased time for preparation and collaboration, etc.

    Guess people don't need to know that the "survey" found support for helping teachers out, in addition to the push-poll pre-ordained responses about "teacher quality."

    Lastly, the Times editorial says that the Alliance represents "the public," but also identifies the Alliance as an SPS Partner...Hmmm, so the Alliance purports to advocate about contract negotiations as a
    "third party," or via a sort of amicus curea, yet they are partners with the management side. Strnage, wot? Maybe they do something for teachers, a couple grand here, a hundred there....but their main task, money-wise, is to manage the nine million dollars Gates and Broad "donated" (seeded) to the district for the Supt's "Strategic Plan," a plan that has all the earmarks of her Broad training and Broad Board membership, all the elements of her NWEA Board membership (heck, NWEA is making money off MAP tests; isn't THAT a conflict of interest for thje Supt?)

    So the Alliance is a supposedly "neutral" third party public, yet acts as the district's grnat manager for funds that are being used to bring in "teacher quality" The Supt will benefit from her membership on the Broad Board and the NWEA Board....

    bah. and yes, Charlie, another good question: How come the Alliance won't debate and discuss on this blog? Probably because these questions would "out" them.

  16. Hellloooooo, Alliance! Ya out there?

    Do you only conduct community engagement in forums where you can control the discussion?


  17. PART ONE:

    such a waste of an opportunity here for the Alliance...

    This blog is a PR tool... if they chose to be open and upfront and transparent and answer our questions and we had a real dialogue going, then we might at least find some common ground, and the skeptics amongst us might change our minds and be willing, eager even, to join in the Alliance's efforts...maybe even become its cheerleaders...

    Instead - it doesnt dialogue with politically savvy people who can see the bigger picture, who are linked into what's going on around the country, who can see through the PR spin and jargon to the real agenda, who doubt the motives of the Big Money Players behind the scenes (none of whom have kids in public schools, by the way) ...

    Instead, it pretends it has grassroots support by courting minority and disadvantaged communities who have been fed the not-quite-truth that education is the key to escaping from poverty...

    No disrespect intended, but these communities are easy targets.

    Think about the communities of colour living in virtual slums in the south and west of this city? (interesting phenomenon that happens all over the world it seems to me - the poorest parts of the cities are almost always in the south and west, sometimes in the south and east)

    Think about why people come from the 3rd world to the States - land of milk and honey and opportunity, comparatively speaking, and education is the means to get you up out of the quagmire and up the ladder.

    And who, coming from a different culture into the blinding, glittery light of the west, coming from a survival strategy and not seeing the corporate realm in any other light than glowing, is going to argue with the ideas presented by the Alliance?

    I've been an immigrant in three countries (and lived in five). I know how hard it is to get into a new country and start a new life and while I had the advantage of being white, middle class, middle aged, well educated and speaking the language, it was still enough of a challenge for me that I can imagine what its like coming from another completely different culture (ethnicity, language, food, relationships, values, spirituality, economic status etc, etc, etc...)...

    My journey took me through the halls of the Refugee Women's Alliance (as a client) and I saw what is the reality of life for the communities the Alliance courts...

    Logic might say that all the Alliance's statements re teacher quality being the most significant impact on educational outcomes make sense... especially to people who dont have the time, energy or skills to put into supporting their childrens' educations outside the classroom.... or even realise that's necessary...

    And the Alliance can claim its got community buy-in and that its sincere in its goal to help the most underprivileged and disadvantaged... its another back-door strategy...

  18. PART TWO:

    But, if it really wanted grassroots support, it would also court us less naive (about the US, its political, economic and social structures), less economically and educationally disadvantaged citizens ...

    It doesnt do that because it knows we can see through its agenda and strategies and we ask questions it cant or wont answer...

    So, it goes acourting further afield and hopes that its efforts and successes there will give it a strong enough foothold and momentum to brush our objections aside...

    Because really, if we object too loudly, we'll get accused of racism, elitism, classism, of wanting to hold on too tightly to our middle class white privilege, of working to perpetuate the achievement gap...

    Its a very clever game/strategy... but then so was the idea of the Trojan Horse...

    And please note that I'm a social activist from way back and had to face and own the fact a long time ago, that, apart from my place of birth, everywhere I have lived on this planet, my (comparatively) privileged white life has been built entirely on the back of exploitation of indigenous peoples' subjugation - their enslavement, genocide and loss of sovereignty and their lands....

  19. Latest developments in Florida's education reform debacle... Seattle/Washington wont be far behind if the Alliance et al get their way... the groundwork is already being laid with this focus on "teacher quality"...


    Already approved by the Senate, the legislation now rests with (Florida Governor Charlie) Crist, who first said he supported it but has been hinting that he may now use his veto because it is so unpopular.

    Teachers, parents and students have been loudly protesting the legislation, which, if it becomes law, would:

    *Make Florida the first state to eliminate tenure for new teachers, putting them all on one-year contracts for the first five years.

    *Eliminate class experience and advanced degrees (in most cases) as factors in teacher evaluations and pay increases.

    *Require that at least 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation, and pay increases, be based on standardized test scores. Test experts say this method is faulty because teachers can’t control every factor that affects the test-taking process.

    *Require the creation of a slew of new standardized tests for every subject, in every grade that is not already assessed. This must come as good news to companies that create tests and that prepare students for taking tests. There could be a lot of new business for them in Florida [Disclosure: The Washington Post owns Kaplan, an education company with a test prep divison.]

    A look at some of the details of the bill passed by the House helps explain why critics say it was not thought out or written with much care.

    It requires all school districts in the state to develop end-of-course exams that will determine “learning gains” made by students ( a plan that also would require exams to be given at the beginning of the school year, too, so that student progress can be measured). It doesn't, however, explain what a student “learning gain” -- on which teachers will be judged-- actually is.

    Within a few years, Florida second-graders could, perhaps, sit down, with pencil in hand, to take a test on how well they did in art class that year. What kind of test? Nobody knows. The bill doesn’t say.

    The new tests will cost millions of dollars. A legislator from Duval County told the House that the state Education Department is developing three end-of course exams right now, at a cost of more than $1 million. The Miami-Dade County school system alone has something like 900 course offerings.

    To pay for the course development and performance pay for teachers and other parts of the legislation, 5 percent of federal, state and local Florida Education Finance Program funds are to be set aside beginning in 2011. That’s about $900 million.

    But here’s the catch: It’s not new money. It would come out of the already stretched budgets of county school systems. School officials say they can't possibly afford this.

  20. PART TWO:

    The bill also doesn’t mention how special-needs students should be factored in, although Crist said this week he was concerned about this omission.

    The backers of the bill say these are details that can be worked out later in rules by the Department of Education.

    That’s the same thing they said when former Florida governor Jeb Bush pushed through a statewide standardized testing program called the FCAT. The legislation had few details, which had to be worked out over years. The adults fiddled while students had to suffer taking tests that had no meaning.

    The bill has been hailed by some conservatives outside the state, including Stanford University economist Eric Hanusek, who praised Florida in the April edition of Education Next magazine for being "poised to lead the nation in crafting student policies."

    Hanusek was a big supporter of then-president George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind education reform, once writing that it was "raising overall student performance." Bush's own administration issued reports showing that it did not, in fact, raise overall student performance.

    Education historian Diane Ravitch, a former official in the administration of president George H.W. Bush who once supported NCLB, has looked at data and changed her mind, saying it actually harmed education, in part by emphasizing high-stakes standardized tests. The New York University professor wrote an open letter to the Florida legislature expressing her opposition to the state's reform approach.

    The legislation's supporters have repeatedly said that its reforms will improve schools and encourage good teachers to stay in the profession because they will be paid more for their good work. Supporters may indeed believe this. But good teachers know that they can't fairly be judged by test scores alone. It isn't surprising that no teachers were involved in the drafting of the legislation.

    Certainly there are teachers in every school system who should not be in the classroom, and certainly principals should have the flexibility to remove ineffective teachers. In fact, in some counties, they do already. Nobody wants bad teachers to be forced out better than good teachers. But taking away job security, linking pay to test scores and forcing kids to take more tests is going to hurt the good teachers as least as much as the bad.

    Opponents of the bill accuse its sponsors of disliking teachers and trying to tear down public education. Sen. John Thrasher, sponsor the Senate bill on teacher tenure and testing, who was recently installed as chairman of Florida’s Republican Party with the help of former governor Jeb Bush, denied this. Incidentally, he didn't ask any educators for their input on the reform.

    During a recent debate on the Senate floor, Thrasher pointed to his daughter who was sitting in the gallery. She’s a former teacher, according to this piece from WUSF, Tampa Bay’s public broadcasting station.

    “She’s told me she’s not fearful of this bill. Because she thinks that when this bill passes, it’s gonna inspire teachers to get into the classroom, and do a better job than they’ve been doing, even now,” Thrasher said.

    Of course she's not fearful. She doesn’t teach anymore.

    SOURCE: http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2010/04/ed-deformer-jeb-bush-and-party-of.html

  21. SC... I wonder if the Alliance people think I am (we are) 'trolls'.... my son loves me being a troll - he thinks I'm very good at it... we've been playing the 'three billy goats gruff' game since he was a toddler... when he was really little, we'd play it on the bed.... I'd make my knees a bridge he had to cross and I'd sing the song while I moved my knees from side to side so that he would fall off, and then I'd tickle him, all the time he'd be squealing and laughing and saying "more, Mummy, more"... and then later we would play it at the park - you know where those wobbly bridges are on play equipment... he'd want me to crouch under the bridge while he ran across and I had to sing the song and pretend to try to catch him (the threat was that if I caught him I would tickle or kiss him)... soon we'd have all the little (and some of the big) kids joining in... always tears when it was time to stop playing...

    I dont mind being the Troll here.... hey Alliance folks... if I catch you (out) I'm going to tickle you!!!

  22. Alliance, I note that the Times editorial did NOT mention the three points in your survey that supported teachers with increased collaboration time and increased prep time.
    In your "advocacy" for "teacher quality" when in discussion with your partners, the management of the district, will you be demanding that these things go along with your teacher quality demands? Are they part and parcel, or will you be satisfied, like, apparently, the Times is, with making more demands on teacher while not supporting them with the necessary time to plan and work together?
    Keep in mind that under "performance management," teachers are being asked to take on the greatly bigger responsibilities of differentiating under MAP; dealing with more disciplinary issues in class under RTI; planning and imlpementing more accomodations under Special Ed Inclusion and ELL Inclusion...
    So I wonder how strong your advocacy for increased support for teachers will be. I don't see that increased support in the Broad materials, so I wonder if you will demand that support go hand-in-hand with increased demands for "quality"....
    Call me a cynic, but my guess is "no." These supports (1,2,3 on your "survey")cost money. I am resignedly guessing that your focus will be on the "quality" without the necessary supports - you KNOW they won't buy more FTE for freeing up time, so I'm guessing you'll be satisfied with merely subjecting teachers to more onerous repercussions for not doing all the added work for free.

  23. How can teacher professionalism include an acceptance of responsibility for student achievement?"

    Teachers cannot (should not) accept responsibility for student achievement while being forced to used materials that are proven to widen the achievement gap, teach in classrooms with over 30 students, not have access to councelors, be responsible for special ed students who have been mainstreamed without support, work on shoe-string budgets.

  24. Thank you, Parent of Three.
    How about it, Alliance? Are you going to publicly correct the Times on it's editorial that "forgets" to include the teacher support points?
    As Parent of Three notes, teachers need good curriculum, small class sizes, counselors...
    Will you ONLY take the other six points as acceptable IF the first three are included? Will ypu argue for all nine, or just the last six?
    If you accept the last six without the first three, then we will know you weren't serious about supporting teachers, you only wanted to "monitor" them (because they're all so damn irresponsible, unaccountable, unprofessional....

  25. So Alliance, you too busy "being a community" with the other Gates representatives (LEV, CPPS, Stand For Children etc), planning how best to get Gates "teacher quality" into the mouths of citizens? You can't spend ten minutes on your own blog, discussing these Gates/Broad initiatives?
    How 'bout that push-poll, eh? We have questions and concerns...

  26. SC - they've been too busy planning tonight's little soiree - the "Stand for Children" reform-agenda driven political fundraiser to deal with us and our pesky questions.... think they think they've got it all sewn up here in Seattle and then in Washington state....

  27. We should go to dinner with the Alliance on the 20th and breakfast on the 28th... and bring our kids... after all, they're the ones the Alliance says it represents and has their best interests at heart, aren't they?

    The least we parents can do is introduce our little darlings to these altruistic benefactors to whom they will owe their oh-so-successful futures - Excellence for All and all that!

  28. The Alliance attended meetings of the Seattle Organizers (the original coalition working for parents and community, not business and political groups), listened in on our discussions, refused to sign our Community Values statement and now promptly have turned around and created their own coalition.

    Very bad form as is the phone push poll.

    Someone, somewhere is going to have to listen to parents. It's not the SEA or the district or, it seems, the Alliance. It's a mistake that may be costly someday.

  29. The Our Schools Coalition received names and phone numbers of teachers and parent/guardians from Seattle Public Schools to conduct their "poll"
    Similar to the Alliances quickly removed "survey," the poll ostensibly represents the voice of a neutral coalition during contract negotiations, but as we learn, they are in bed (as is the Alliance; it manages Broad funds for SPS) with the District and are using our personal information to conduct biased push-polls and surveys designed to "find" that the public wants "teacher quality," an invention of the Broad Foundation (of which our Supt is a graduate and Board member). The Broad Foundation launders money through the Alliance (and now, with our personal information being given out, SPS) in order to further "performance management" which is code for "test students to determine teacher quality," the test being the new MAP test, sold to the District by NWEA, of which the Supt is a board member...say how, isn't that about three conflicts of interest?

  30. How about a real poll on what the public thinks is needed to improve public education? Not one focused exclusively on the false issue of "teacher quality".

    If a teacher is incompentent and the principal can't get that teacher removed, isn't that proof that the principal is incompetent and should be removed? And if the principal is incompetent but the superintendent can't get that principal removed, isn't that proof that the superintendent is incompetent? How can we possibly discuss teacher quality without also discussing principal and superintendent quality?

    How about a real poll on the changes that the public wants in the teacher contract - and the principal contract, and the superintendent's contract?

    Where's the poll on math instruction? Where's the money to influence that in the way the public demands?

    Where's the poll on art, music, and vocational education? Where's the money to influence that in the way the public demands?

    Where's the poll on access to alternative education? Where's the poll on advanced learning opportunities? Where's the poll on standardized texts? Where's the poll on standardized courses in high school? Where's the poll on full-day kindergarten or access to pre-school? Where's the poll on recess for elementary students?

  31. The poll on all those other important questions regarding education was sent over the national reform movement organizations and they decided it wasn't in their interest to ask citizens about such things. The citizenry has ideas and opinions that are contrary to this national reform movement: They might show support for things the reformistas don't want to do.

  32. I think the Alliance has given up on this blog - which is kinda sad and very funny at the same time ... sad that they wont answer our questions (because they cant be open and honest)and hilarious that what was probably seen as a valuable PR tool is totally useless and works against them...

    (I ought to go on the prowl and see if they've opened up another blog under a different name somewhere... wonder if they're doing anything on Facebook and Twitter - must check...

    But, they are still very busy out there in the world spreading the reformist gospel filled with half truths, omissions of fact, preying on vulnerable peoples' fears etc...

    I think we ought to go where they go - physically follow them around town and make sure we help educate Seattle's citizenry by presenting the other side of the story...

    You know, like in that parade, where the boy shouts out - "but look, cant you see? The Emperor's not wearing any clothes"....

  33. Broad -> Broad Alliance -> Broad Superintendent -> Broad "poll -> Broad goals of turning teaching into a free-market nightmare

  34. One good thing came out of that pack of lies you had published in the Times. It served to remind us all of this nasty, little, anti-democratic whine that Sara Morris wrote in 2007.

    Ms Morris pretends to care about the voice of the people at the negotiating table, but in 2007 she wanted to exclude the voice of the people from determining the District's leadership by switching from an elected Board to an appointed one.

    She isn't complaining about that so much these days after the oligarchs she represents got four School Board rubber stamps elected in 2007 with unprecedented funding of school board campaigns.

    They have bought the Board; that must be why they think of the schools as theirs.

  35. On his blog, SPS Director Harium Martin Morris directed another writer to the national certification board for the definition of a quality teacher....

    you can read the definition/description for yourself at the following URL...


    You'll notice that the description does not define a good teacher by the WASL or MAP stats his/her kids achieve each and every year....

    I asked Harium if, based on this definition of teacher quality, he would you help us head off this reformist agenda that is so focused on test-result based 'merit pay' and 'performance management'.... it will be interesting to see what is his reply...

    Based on this nationally accepted definition of a quality teacher, will you the Alliance also now back off from this reformist agenda aimed at breaking the unions, privatising public schools, firing seasoned professional teachers and hiring in unqualified, cheap labour to 'teach' our children?

  36. SPS should not sign on to RTTT... at around $22 per child in extra one-off funding, its not worth what we would be signing away... and it should definitely not move to merit pay and performance management...

    Florida Governor Crist is not alone in his concern about education reform...


    here's the text of Texas Governor Rick Perry's letter to Arne Duncan refusing involvement in RTTT... many, many points are applicable to Seattle/Washington...


  37. I attended the Teacher Quality Town Hall this week and I will be contacting A4E staff by email and off this board in an effort to share my views and learn more about the Coalition's views on these questions.

    It's a shame that you have chosen not to participate in a public conversation about our schools, but I am glad that you are willing to engage in private conversations about them.

  38. Wont engage publicly to answer the hard questions, but will have private conversations that wont be on the record?

    Not a lot of open engagement there, not a lot of transparency, not a lot of reason to give trust...


    I am so bummed I cant get the hang of manually inserting live links... but if its not working here, all you have to do is copy and past the URL into a new tab or window...


    Please go here and read the Declaration of Support of Public Education... if you agree with the principles contained within this Declaration, please consider signing this petition...

    And please, if you have the inclination, see how different this Declaration is to what the Our Schools Coalition/Alliance for Education has put forward as 'community, grass roots desires' for public education...

    See how they are demonizing teachers - blaming them for 'failing' students, taking the focus off the fact that much of the negative outcome happening in our schools is happening because teachers are handicapped in what they can achieve with students (who bring a wide range of non-academic issues with them to school each day) by being given too few resources, too large classes and too little support...

    See how skewed their petition is, aiming at getting very particular outcomes aligned with corporatist education 'reform', such as merit pay for teachers (pay linked to students results on increasing amounts of high stakes standardised testing) and getting rid of seniority considerations in RIFing procedures...

    If you can see through that smoke screen, and you dont like what you see, please consider joining with other parents - there are many of us - to tell SPS and the state that the Alliance for Education does not speak for us!

  40. So what were the results of the poll regarding the superintendent. Don't you want to kibbitz in that contract negotiation as well?