Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Teacher Appreciation Week

As you may know, the Alliance has been involved in addressing the issue of recruiting, supporting, and retaining the strongest teachers in Seattle Public Schools. At the heart of this work is the recognition that a strong teaching corps is the most valuable asset of a school system. The vast majority of our teachers do not receive the credit they deserve. We would like to acknowledge the great teaching that goes on day after day in our schools.

Teacher Appreciate Week began on Monday, May 3rd. This is a unique opportunity to show our teachers how much we value their diligence and commitment to our students. The role of being a teacher is no simple undertaking, nevertheless most of our teachers are passionate, engaged, and student focused. Let’s all take this time to express our gratitude for their work.

Send an email, write a letter, stop by your neighborhood school and drop off a personal gift, or simple say THANK YOU! My son’s fifth grade teacher at Leschi Elementary is a dynamic instructor, mentor and role model. I truly value the impact she has on my son’s life and academic career. Thank you Ms. Blackwell for your amazing work in our public schools!

-Solynn McCurdy, Community Engagement Manager

Click on the links below for gift ideas and other information on teacher appreciation week.



  1. What a bunch of hypocrisy you write above, when over the past year you've done nothing but attack the teaching profession, with the $14K NCTQ report, with the phony Our Schools Coaliton push-poll, with the blaming of teachers for failing schools, with the push to merit pay and to do away with seniority considerations in RIFing...

  2. http://www.petitiononline.com/SSB1RTTT/petition.html

    Go here and tell SPS Board Directors not to sign on to RttT... an average one-off payment of $22 per pupil is not enough to warrant selling our public education system to the private enterprise charter franchises, and will have negative impacts on our already disadvantaged low income communities and
    children of colour...

  3. Secretary of Education Duncan's proposals to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) would take the parent voice out of public education, would encourage more test prep and narrowing of the curriculum, would lead to more privatization and inequities in funding, and would further undermine the quality of our public schools.

    Parent leaders from across America have written a letter to the President and the US Congress, asking them to listen to parents, and enact real education reforms that have been proven to work, including requiring more parent involvement in decision-making and reducing class size.

    We insist that the next version of the ESEA formally incorporates the views of public school parents. As highly knowledgeable primary stakeholders, we must be permitted to have a seat at the decision-making table.

    Go here to sign the letter:


  4. A Pretense of Science and Objectivity: Data and Race to the Top


    Some comments on RttT from Yong Zhau, professor of education at Michigan University…

    “Education has a new god: data. It is believed to have the power to save American education and thus everything in education must be about data—collect more data about our children, evaluate teachers and administrators based on data, and reward and punish schools using data….

    I am not at all opposed to data but unfortunately data are not god, but rather man-made artifacts. Therefore they cannot be perfect. There are good data and there are bad data. A good example of bad data and bad decision driven by bad data is in fact the Race to the Top evaluation process.

    William Peterson and Richard Rothstein published an analysis of the results of RTT Phase 1 review as a briefing paper of Economic Policy Institute this week. They conclude that “In short, the Race to the Top 500-point rating system presents a patina of scientific objectivity, but in truth masks a subjective and somewhat random process.” …

    If the RTT reviewing process—an elaborate apparatus developed by a data-driven Secretary of Education and Department of Education to evaluate efforts by 40 states that involved governors, state legislators, state school boards, superintendents (commissioners), school administrators, business partners, and teacher unions for their chances to receive many billions of dollars—can be so flawed, how much faith can we really have in the data that will be collected about students, used to determine their learning process, to evaluate their teachers and principals, and judge their schools?

    Even if we could collect “good data” about students, there are still some questions we must ask:

    1. What is the cost, both financial and human, of all this data collection? Can the money for buying/developing/administering tests be used for truly educational activities? Can teachers and students better spend their time on actual teaching and learning rather than reporting and studying for tests?
    2. What are the implications of collecting so much data about individual student, from kindergarten to college or even post-graduate level? When we are so concerned about the misuse of health data, should we also consider about academic and school behavior data of our children?
    3. Will data-driven instruction truly work? This seems a very mechanical and arrogant—as if we knew exactly how children learn and develop and could prescribe their course of development as well as their purpose for life. But we know children are living organisms, with intentions, agency, emotions, interest, dreams, and hopes. They cannot and should not be deemed needing intervention just because they did do well to meet the prescribed “grade-level” expectations.”

  5. http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2010/05/soppy-story-from-super.html

    SPS Superintendent (and Broad Foundation and Alliance for Education Board member) Marie Goodloe Johnson demonstrates yet again her complete lack of understanding of (and/or lack of interest in) the need to relate to the community she serves…

    She marked Teacher Appreciation week at Wednesday’s SPS Board meeting, by reading The Story of Teddy Stoddard.

    According to http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/t/teddy.htm Teddy Stoddard is “a little guy in Mrs. Thompson’s fifth grade class that she just didn’t like very much. He was unpleasant, messy, and earned bad grades. Saw in his past records that Teddy’s mother had died when he was in the third grade and that his life had deteriorated after that. She began treating him differently and he later praised her for making a difference in his life, a difference that helped him get through high school, college, and medical school and become a doctor. He also asked her to take his mom’s place at his wedding.”

    The site goes on to say “this story was written by Elizabeth Silance Ballard and published in Home Life magazine in 1976. It was not represented as being a true story but rather as a piece of fiction. It was later republished in the magazine in 1976 with the notation that it was one of the most requested stories in the magazine’s history.”

    MGJ did not attribute the source of the story, and in her version, she changed the boy’s ethnicity from white to black, which seems to be the current strategy for corporatist ed reformers - use skin colour to tug at guilty middle class heart strings and drum up support for their agenda…

    As so many commented on the Save Seattle Schools blog – couldnt MGJ find something real happening in our childrens’ classrooms to praise? She apparently had a powerpoint presentation prepared that did focus on Seattle teachers, but apparently did not have enough time to show it…

    Others have commented that she’s setting a bad example – certainly not "excellence for all", let alone "accountability" – in plagiarising someone else’s work and giving no attribution…

    Her choices in this matter once again reflect her disrespect for SPS teachers, SPS parents and our children.

  6. http://FunnyOrDie.com/m/3tfl
    - a video PSA from California parents, protesting more teacher cuts...

    And (Broad Foundation, A4E and NWEA Board member) SPS Superintendent Marie Goodloe Johnson yet again demonstrated her exquisite sense of timing and interpersonal sensitivity this week, by RIFing another 36 teachers during TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK...

    How come school districts dont cut top heavy administration before they cut teachers and penalise our children? We dont need wholesale school reform and RttT ... we need to streamline administration and cut school management costs.

    A good place to start here in Seattle, would be that extra Broad Foundation-infested management layer we have, shown by the last audit to be an unnecessary extravagance, given the number of schools and children SPS manages, compared to other school districts

  7. http://www.thewaronkids.com/...
    Public Education and the Rights of Youth, PERY, will be hosting its’ first annual forum sponsored by Nova High School on Sunday, May 16th, from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

    Public Education and the Rights of Youth (PERY)
    Sunday, May 16, 10a-3pm
    Nova High School 300 – 20th Avenue East Seattle, WA 98112
    Free, donations welcome!

    Please join us on for a viewing of the important film The War on Kids followed by lunch and community conversations.
    10:00- Welcome, introductions and coffee
    10:30- showing of War on Kids
    12:15- lunch, talk-back
    1:00- workshop sessions*, small group dialogue
    2:30- closing
    *We look forward to discussing avenues for change and coalition building. Workshops to be facilitated by Nova HS students, staff, friends and family. Topics may include civil rights of youth, alternatives to medication, history and models of education and more. Tickets are free, but your “order” helps us with our planning. Interested in getting involved? We’d like to hear from individuals or groups interested in supporting this event.

  8. I see that you, like the League of Education Voters, have unfriended me and stripped all of my contributions from your Facebook page...

    I am heartbroken - not because you dont love me anymore... but because here's another example that proves free speech only operates in certain quarters as long as the people doing the speaking are saying what you want to hear...

    Very depressing....

  9. War on Teachers:


    Taking Back School Reform: A Conversation Between Diane Ravitch and Mike Rose

    Last month, education scholars Diane Ravitch and Mike Rose held a conversation at the University of California-Los Angeles about issues raised in Ravitch’s much-discussed new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System. Afterward, they continued their conversation by e-mail, focusing on key topics that emerged in their discussion at UCLA. see link for i/v... extract from Ravitch's comments:

    Subject: Defining “Effective” Teachers

    Mike, I want us to talk a bit more about teachers in the current “reform” environment. Reformers begin their discussion of teachers with a universally acclaimed proposition: Teachers are important, and every child should have a great teacher. No one disagrees. They then go on to define a great teacher as an “effective” teacher, and an “effective” teacher is one whose students get higher test scores every year. So, with a slight verbal or written tic, they turn the quest for great teachers into the quest for those whose students get higher test scores. Without exception, these “reformers” agree with economists who say that credentials do not predict who will be an effective teacher. Since there is no way to know who will be an effective teacher, the best thing to do is to “deselect” teachers every year whose students did not get gains. If we fire 5-10% of teachers every year, over time the nation will have an excellent corps of teachers....

    ...The trouble with this whole line of analysis is that it was framed by economists who look only at data and take the data at face value. Probably they do not know that students get intensive test prep for state tests, and that testing experts say that gains purchased in this manner are of dubious value. The economists do not look at the validity of the state tests, nor at clever ways that states manipulate the scoring of the tests. They do not ask whether test scores are in themselves the right measure of a “great” or “effective” teacher. They assume that teachers and students are in a hermetically sealed environment, in which only the teacher is responsible for what the students know and can do. No wonder that teachers today are profoundly demoralized by the direction of the “reform” effort....

    ...What makes me crazy is that the statistical analyses involved miss so much; in fact, I’d argue that most of the time the statistical procedures are not thoughtfully applied to teaching and learning. No wonder, then, that most current characterizations of teaching miss the richness and complexity of the work; the teacher, as you say, gets defined as a knowledge-delivery mechanism preparing students for high-stakes tests. This reductive definition has so many negative consequences, for example the belief that by holding teachers’ “feet to the fire” of test scores, we will supposedly get more effort from teachers. Of course, the proponents of this point of view never articulate the social-psychological mechanisms by which the use of test scores will effect effort, motivation, and pedagogical skill. They can’t because the implicit models of learning and motivation in their analyses are as bankrupt as those in their understanding of teaching itself.

  10. Yesterday there was a posting announcing that an HR firm - Koya - has been hired to find a new principal for a SPS 'transformation school'...


    I researched that firm and found it has worked for the Broad Foundation and charter schools, including KIPP and has links to the New Teacher Project...

    Koya's founder/director Katie Bouton is linked with The New Teacher Project...


    which has had a huge influence in education reform around the country


    and has had a major influence in de-professionalising the teaching corps, by, for example, advocating that seniority not be a factor in teacher layoffs...

    and here, you'll see that Koya works mostly with charter schools and the BROAD FOUNDATION...

    What's happening in Seattle is what has already happened in Chicago, New York, DC, Philadelphia, Oakland, Los Angeles...

    The reform movement is in full swing here...

    * We have MGJ - bought and paid for by Broad, not being compelled to cut her ties to Broad and NWEA ($$$$M Map test providers), ties she did not reveal until challenged

    * We have 3-5 other Broad plants in senior SPS management (Brad and Jessica plus several residents, with more coming in this year - and they are guaranteed permanent positions when their residency ends)

    * We have four School Board Directors whose 2007 election campaigns were funded to extraordinary levels by Gates-aligned people

    * We have Board member retreats paid for by Broad and Gates

    *We have Board members being given reformist literature to read - the same reformist literature that's used at the Broad Academy

    * We now have an HR firm hiring in principals for a 'transformation school', that HR firm being associated with Broad, the New Teacher Project and charter schools such as KIPP

    * We have the Alliance for Education - bought and paid for by Broad and Gates - check their website for where they get their money

    * We have the LEV - bought and paid for by Broad and Gates - again, check their funders

    * We have the Our Schools Coalition - bought and paid for by Broad/Gates through the Alliance and managed by 360 Stragegies PR firm which is linked back to the Alliance and Gates

    * We have Stand for Children - bought and paid for by Broad and Gates - again check their website to find out where their money comes from

    I do so hope we won't be buying in another principal from a charter school. We already have one coming in - that would make two within the District...

    Is this a back-door strategy to bringing charter schools into the state/district - or at least their 'educational' methodology - as per the wishes of Duncan/Broad/Gates? It would certainly be a good start...

  11. Just for a bit of fun... watch this, and think about how we're being scared into thinking our kids are going to end up on the bottom of the heap if we stand in the way of education 'reform'...


  12. A study coming out of Harvard on Chile's education system, which has had privatisation of schools for 20 years, via a voucher system, shows that charter/voucher/private schools do no better than public schools and in fact, exacerbate the rich-poor divide:


    "The competition among schools have not caused an improvement of educational quality, because schools (mainly the private ones) have competed to attract the best students, rather than to increase the value-added to their educational service. In this “zero-sum game”, the increments of some schools are annulled by the decreases of others.

    Additionally, parents’ choices have not necessarily been oriented by indicators of educational quality (because of information deficiencies and parents’ use of non-academic criteria).

    As a consequence, schools have not received signals towards the educational improvement from their customers, but towards the use of status symbols and social segregation.

    Finally, deregulation and free competition have also tended to increase school segregation through a process of mutual reinforcement between schools (supply side) and families (demand side).

    From the supply side, schools have responded to the incentives of the competence, by distorting the indicators of quality by rejecting students who are less likely to succeed in school (applying admissions tests), and those who have demonstrated low capacities (expelling them).

    These sorting and re-sorting mechanisms, massively applied for two decades, have shaped the Chilean school system in its current segregated features.

    From the demand point of view, middle and high social-class families have found that schools’ social and academic selectivity provide them a large profit of “peer effects” within schools: given the high correlation between learning outcomes and student’s social background, when Chilean families aim at social selectivity, they obtain academic selectivity by extension."