The Truth Is Not Their Friend

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Superintendent Issued A Media Advisory : District Media Advisory

The superintendent’s media advisory is quoted in the Tribune:

“We are disappointed that [Clara] feels the need to seek solutions by contacting federal officials in Denver instead of working collaboratively with the Board of Education and the district,” the statement reads. “We believe Mr. Clara’s complaints can and should be addressed through established board protocol. We are committed to advocating for all students.” (Link To Article).

As the Tribune article states. I brought up the issue of teacher distribution in the February 19th Board meeting. I was told by the superintendent and the board vice president that we could NOT discuss the issue further because it was not on the agenda.

I then sent a letter and email to the board president, requesting that this issue be placed on the agenda of a future meeting: Agenda Request Letter, Page 1           Agenda Request Letter, Page 2

The board president replied that she would not place it on the agenda (see text of emails at the end of this post)

So, I agree with the media statement. The board should be working as a “collaborative” body. Collaboration includes honoring the issues that each member brings to the table, not slamming  the door shut.

I did avail myself of “board protocol”. There were only two of us on the board that felt that this was worthy enough to be placed on the agenda. The policy states, if the president does not want to place an item on the agenda, then three board members can request it and the item will get placed on the agenda. I was not able to meet that threshold.

I believe an injustice is occurring. Others on the board don’t see it. I honor their perspective and filed the complaint with the office of civil rights. Just because the board does not see an issue from my community as an injustice does not mean I am done with it. My obligation is to my neighbors who elected me not the bureaucracy.

The superintendent and board president can’t have it both ways. If they don’t allow an injustice to be deliberated upon in a school board meeting, they can’t be “disappointed” when I seek a remedy through other branches of government.

 

Michael Clara <donmiguelslc@gmail.com>

RE: Agenda Request: Equitable Distribution of Experienced Teachers
1 message

Kristi Swett <kristi.Swett@slcschools.org> Sun, Feb 24, 2013 at 8:48 PM
To: Michael Clára <donmiguelslc@gmail.com>
Cc: McKell Withers <mckell.withers@slcschools.org>, Heather Bennett <heatherbennett@xmission.com>, Laurel Young <laurel.young@slcschools.org>, “dougn@mdxperts.com” <dougn@mdxperts.com>, Rosemary Emery <rosemary.emery2@gmail.com>, Tiffany Sandberg <tiffany.sandberg@slcschools.org>, Janet Roberts <janet.roberts@slcschools.org>, Dorothy Cosgrove <dorothy.cosgrove@slcschools.org>

Mr. Clara,

Perhaps I did not clearly cite the provisions of Policy B-2 in my last email. You may certainly request that a topic be placed on an upcoming board meeting agenda by contacting the board president or vice president — as you have done. However, you also asked that the topic “Equitable Distribution of Experienced Teachers” be placed on the agenda “within the next two meetings.” The policy anticipates that such rapid realignment of agenda priorities will occur when at least three board members request it, but not necessarily in response to a single board member.

Dr. Withers, Ms. Bennett, and I all agree that you have asked good questions around the large and complex issue of how to improve the quality of instruction in our schools. We are sorry you feel we have not given appropriate weight to your immediate concerns. Please know that we will continue to discuss the distribution of experienced teachers within our system, along with other methods of ensuring that “educators develop skills, knowledge, and beliefs necessary to meet the needs of every student,” which the principles of Equity and Advocacy articulated in our Student Achievement Plan require.

Dr. Shaeffer and Ms. Marriott promised they would be ready to present more complete information about measures of teacher effectiveness within the next few months. This will certainly include student growth data from 2011-2012 to add to the posted data from 2009-2010. We anticipate a rich and productive discussion, culminating in recommendations for specific action.

Respectfully,

Kristi Swett
President
Heather Bennett
Vice President



From: Michael Clára [donmiguelslc@gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2013 6:34 PM
To: Kristi Swett
Cc: McKell Withers; Heather Bennett; Laurel Young; dougn@mdxperts.com; Rosemary Emery; Tiffany Sandberg; Janet Roberts; Dorothy Cosgrove
Subject: Re: Agenda Request: Equitable Distribution of Experienced Teachers
Kristi,
The policy states that a member can make a request of the president and vice president. Which is what I did. It does not say that there has to be three board members for every request.  ”Any board member may request that a topic be placed on an upcoming meeting agenda by contacting the board president or vice president”
I have served on several boards and commissions over the years and this is by far the most poorly run. Which is unfortunate because of the far reaching impact the decisions of this board have.
I have no desire to ask two other board members to place this issue on the agenda, which I recognize that is another option. I have asked you to place it on the agenda. You apparently do not see the value of the issue that I am raising. I will pursue other avenues to resolve this issue. Thank you for your consideration.
 
Un abrazo,

 

Michael Clára

Board Member, District 2

On Sun, Feb 24, 2013 at 6:21 PM, Kristi Swett <Kristi.Swett@slcschools.org> wrote:

Mr. Clara

Thank you for your email. According to policy B-2, as stated in your email below, a board member may request to have an item placed on the boards agenda within two meetings. However, also in B-2, in order to comply with your request,  it states there must be a total of three board members that must submit a request for this topic be placed on the agenda.

 

B-2:

Agenda Development: The board president, board vice president, and superintendent should develop board meeting agendas collaboratively. Any board member may request that a topic be placed on an upcoming meeting agenda by contacting the board president or vice president. In general, scheduling of topics is at the discretion of board leadership, but if three or more board members submit a request that a topic be placed on the agenda, that request will be accommodated within two meetings.

 

 

I have included all of the board in the cc,  to provide everyone access to your email and your request, in order to allow another two board members to submit the same request.

 

Thank you,

 

Kristi Swett
President
Salt Lake City Board of Education
Precinct 7



From: Michael Clára [donmiguelslc@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 21, 2013 8:17 AM
To: Kristi Swett
Subject: Agenda Request: Equitable Distribution of Experienced Teachers

Dear President Swett,

 

In accordance with board policy B-2 which states in part: “Any board member may request that a topic be placed on an upcoming meeting agenda by contacting the board president or vice president”. Accordingly, I am requesting that the issue: “Equitable Distribution of Experienced Teachers” be placed on the school board agenda within the next two meetings.

 

The serious disparity with west-side students’ access to experienced teachers is alarming. I am interested in learning why this situation was allowed to flourish and what steps we can take to rectify it.

 

When I raised this question in Tuesday night’s board meeting, it was met with an emotional rejoinder by one board member, and a retort of denial from the board vice president and superintendent in the form of ‘let’s move on’.

 

I submit that it is counterproductive for board members to malign students from my neighborhood with labels that communicate and foster low expectations. I believe that when a board member voices an attitude of low expectations, it can produce a negative self-fulfilling prophecy throughout the entire district. A student’s consistent exposure to low expectations can lead to the erosion of self-confidence, motivation, and academic success.

 

I echo the sentiments of Dr. Shaeffer, when she stated in Tuesday night’s meeting: “We need to do something to turn around that pattern that you can see”.

 

Current analysis of our district’s pattern confirms that the schools with the highest concentration of at-risk students in poverty are the least likely to be staffed by experienced, well-qualified teachers. At-risk students in poverty within our district are also more likely to attend schools with higher teacher turnover.

 

 

A school’s capacity to maintain a stable faculty and build a coherent instructional program is essential.

 

Why is it, that in our district, the higher the ethnic minority student population of the school, the higher the teacher turnover?

 

What is the principal’s role in teacher turnover rates?

 

What part does the current teacher assignment system in our district contribute to this disparity?

 

These are all questions that I wanted to ask on Tuesday night but was denied.

 

In conclusion, the current situation is contrary to the 2010-2015 Student Achievement Plan that you signed off on and that is emblazoned in the superintendent’s office and in our boardroom:

 

Equity and Advocacy

District-wide practices, programs, policies, and procedures to provide all students with rigorous curriculum, safe learning environments, differentiated educational opportunities, and the resources necessary to achieve comparably high outcomes. Equity requires that educators develop skills, knowledge, and beliefs necessary to meet the needs of every student, with an emphasis on students of color, English learners, students in poverty, and students with disabilities.

 

I would request that this item be placed on the school board agenda within the next two meetings and in advance of teacher negotiations so that any board decisions to correct this imbalance can be reflected in the teacher’s contract: Written Agreement.

 
Un abrazo,

 

Michael Clára

Board Member, District 2

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