Monday, December 20, 2010

Stemming the Tidal Flow of Misinformation from MGJ

Seattle Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson reflects on some of the district's successes in 2010, looks ahead to next year, and introduces their new website in a letter to parents.

In an attempt to correct the enormous flow of misleading information generated by TEAM MGJ often with the help of four Seattle School Board members, I offer illumination in Blue.

MGJ's letter in black, my comments in blue.

Looking back, 2010 has been a year of progress and change for Seattle Public Schools. We signed a historic teacher contract, which supports quality teaching in every classroom. (No it does not. It continues to deny teachers the autonomy needed to meet the needs of each child. The District spends money on expensive experimental stuff, for example the NWEA/ MAP testing tool instead of spending on providing the interventions needed by students struggling to learn) We received a $12.5 million federal teacher incentive fund grant that is devoted to instructional and leadership excellence at 29 high needs schools. (Dr. MGJ diverted carry over funds from high needs low income schools to fund her grandiose expensive plans for Cleveland’s NTN STEM program.) For the first time, the District released individual School Reports, giving families, schools and the community detailed information on the performance of every school, as well as a plan to improve. (These school reports painted an incorrect picture of improvement by showing that 66% of students were making gains. This will always be true when all the students are compared with those in the bottom third of students.The actual change in scores from year to year paints an entirely different picture.) Finally - thanks to our supportive community - voters approved the $48.2 million supplemental school levy, which will help reduce the number and severity of budget cuts, support teachers and provide classroom materials. (This is highly unlikely given the way money is spent on programs, which lack a track record of success.)

We continue our work on implementing a new Student Assignment Plan that responds to what parents and families have requested. (How odd. Director Betty Patu advised waiting at least a year. This plan was based on making every school a quality school, but there was no evidence anything other than increasing income and ethnic imbalances would occur.) Thank you for your support and patience. We are committed to providing you with a plan that is predictable, equitable and easy to understand. (But given the complete failure of her three year Southeast Education Initiative the District has no idea how to make every school a quality school, after increasing the percentages of ethnic minorities and low-income students at many of them.)

We're starting the third year of our strategic plan, Excellence for All, which was approved in 2008 based on extensive community input and best practices nationally, and is aimed at ensuring all students graduate college and career ready. (After two years, an analysis of the data reveals “Excellence for All” is an expensive flop. Those supposed “Best Practices” are hardly that when analyzed in the light of “Project Follow Through” or Hattie’s “Visible Learning”.)

Looking ahead to 2011, I see the District moving closer to realizing our goal: every student achieving, everyone accountable. Personally, I will continue to focus on Listening, Learning and Responding. (Personally, I would focus on holding MGJ accountable for her many illegal actions; among them are:

(1) misleading public officials with her 17% lie about SPS graduates, (this is a gross misdemeanor) and

(2) her failure to submit transcripts of evidence that are “certified to be correct” when Board decisions are appealed in King County Superior Court, (this is a violation of RCW 28A 645.020) and

(3) her proposal to bring trainee teachers into Low-Income High Minority schools, where currently only 1 out of 200 classes is taught by a teacher who is not highly qualified. The Board approved her plan 6-1 to pay TfA trainees with 5-weeks of training full teaching salaries as full time teachers in Low-Income schools, while they continue training to become full certified teachers, (the legality of this action in contracting with TfA remains in doubt) and

(4) her forging of the 3-12-2010 NTN School Board Action Report, which led to spending $800,000. This is a class C felony.

Joy Anderson et al. recently dropped legal action so the Board and Superintendent would have no reason for failing to discuss this approval to spend $800,000, which was based on a forged action report.
) This fall, I was able to meet and talk with parents and community members at regional meetings, coffee chats and numerous other events and activities across the District. I was impressed with what our families, parents and students have to say, and I will continue to listen to all the voices of the Seattle community. (It is really unlikely MGJ will act on any of the community voices she hears.)

I encourage families to stay involved in your student's learning. (Because many of our programs lack explicit instruction and enough practice for many a child to succeed without enormous help from parents, tutors, or others.) Be a volunteer in the classroom, attend school meetings and contact your teacher or principal with any suggestions or concerns. And beginning today I invite you to preview our new District website, designed to provide much easier access to the timely information you need. With your continued support, we have the momentum to provide our children with education as a strong foundation for their futures.
(What momentum is she referring to evidence or her press releases?)

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