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Sutherland for Schools blog

PS: no board approval

by Ann Sutherland on 05/24/17

Remember the workshop I attended last week?  I asked yesterday if the board had approved it.  The answer?

"We just spent $5000 per session so it didn't have to go to the board."

Where the curriculum workshops came from

by Ann Sutherland on 05/24/17

This is the real truth.

Back in 1979 and 1980, when property taxes were capped in California, the state government ran out of money.  Education is very strong in Sacramento and we had lots of lobbyists whose job was to bring $$$ to the schools and colleges.

The K-12 lobbyists were terrified that if they didn't bring any increased $$ to their schools, their jobs were jeopardized.  I remember the Los Angeles teacher lobbyist telling one of the finance committee staffers that "he couldn't go home without something".  The Legislature responded by providing a small amount of money for--you guessed it--staff development.

And now we are spending $146 million on the curriculum office.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Time to call out our curriculum department

by Ann Sutherland on 05/23/17

 Like most readers, I have been hugely frustrated over the many workshops and lectures by non-teachers over how we should manage our classrooms.  Last week I attended another one of those, run by attractive women gaily reading still another powerpoint.  This one is builds from the Common Core framework (yes, the CC) and hopes by training young teachers in "social emotional competency", after which the young teachers will train other young teachers through summer workshops.  The workshop was held in the heart of downtown in an expensive venue (with valet parking paid).

Did you hear that Mr. Carroll is going to be re-writing curriculum?  This is too much.  The curriculum already matches the TEKS and it is stuffed with those worthless Short Cycle Assessments (which are still illegal).  This garbage is a huge contributor to our failing urban schools.  It's time to declare independence from the stranglehold of the central office curriculum department.  


If these people are such great teachers, let's put them in classrooms and watch them where they can do some good.

Agenda and Board Book for Tuesday CORRECTED

by Ann Sutherland on 05/19/17

Sorry about the bad link.

The agenda features the election of  and the naming of new principals.  I am getting a lot of new principals; don't know about other trustees'.  

Also the community meeting on the bond is at 6 PM PM 24th in the Paschal Auditorium.

Achieve cost is $2.1 million for the current year.

by Ann Sutherland on 05/19/17

That's a lot.

Here is the info on the new curriculum work

by Ann Sutherland on 05/17/17

Guess what???? they're trying something new.  They are inserting STILL ANOTHER step between the staff and teachers.  

This from the curriculum department:

This year the Curriculum and Instruction Department will begin the work of transitioning the core curriculum documents to an Understanding by Design model (UbD). Our intention is to create a more collaborative, cohesive process of curriculum development by working directly with teachers, campus administrators, and district leaders. We look forward to the process, and to working with you, with great anticipation.
As we launch into our curriculum rewrites we are beginning our work by creating a PK-12 Macro Curriculum Framework. A Macro Curriculum Framework identifies big transfer goals we have for ourselves as a district, and for our students as they progress from grade to grade. We have invited teachers, campus principals, and community leaders to participate in the creation of content macro transfer goals. These goals will guide our work in curriculum formation in the future, and this is a very important step in building curriculum documents that reflect the areas of interest and focus expressed from campuses.
These design and work sessions are scheduled from May 15-18, 2017 at the Norris Conference Center in Sundance Square. Your knowledge and support of the macro curriculum design process is essential to connecting our work across the District. If your schedule allows you to join us for all or part of any of the days listed below, we’d be delighted. We appreciate your time spent in consideration of this request, and look forward to working with you and your team in the near future. A schedule for the sessions is listed below for your reference. All listed sessions will run from 8-4.
May 15th May 16th May 17th May 18th
World Languages
Social Studies
Fine Arts
*Bilingual/ESL/Special Education/Technology/AAIL will attend each day and join content teams. **Substitutes will be paid by curriculum & instruction
Thank you,
Khechara Bradford
Khechara Bradford
Assistant Superintendent | Curriculum and Instruction
Fort Worth Independent School District

Board workshop features budget changes, curriculum

by Ann Sutherland on 05/17/17

Of course we had three major presentations last night with no advance information available.

1.  Following widespread disapproval, the proposal to increase class size for secondary core teachers in order to provide more money for the curriculum unit has mostly been wiped out.  CFO Schiro has it set at the same level as the current year . . . that's better, but doesn't account for the anticipated 500-student increase in enrollment.  
2.  RE curriculum, there is a New Program in town, called Neuhaus, out of Houston.  I will be attending one of their meetings later this week, but as far as I can tell the reported $600.000 price tag was not approved by the board.
3.  We have very nice plans to improve our funding for the bond at no increase in the tax rate by shifting $1 billion from building things to funding programs.  However it requires approval by the voters and I don't see this happening this year, especially when the city and JPS are hoping for bond proposals already.  Also I am wondering whether we will really see the 500 student increase (1000 at the secondary level but 500 fewer at the elementary).

Here is the schoolxschool climate data . . . but

by Ann Sutherland on 05/17/17

. . .  but please remember that the assertions about how things have gotten better are based on (a) allowing anyone to comment anonymously (and how many times???) and (b) a different set of questions.

The survey is on the information page.

Tanglewood Meeting May 24

by Ann Sutherland on 05/15/17

This highly significant meeting will be at Paschal HS and begins at 6 pm.  Thee will be a crowd.

RE the Alice Carlson / Tanglewood issue

by Ann Sutherland on 05/15/17

Agenda for 5-16 on information page.

by Ann Sutherland on 05/15/17

The agenda will feature a special meeting to swear in our new trustees (Ramos, Sims, Robbins, Paz and Luebanos).

Following this there will be a board workshop featuring the budget, a presentation of "Innovating Curriculum and undertanding for deep understanding" (which isn'[t even grammatical . . .)

No advance information has been available.

Straight talk on those teacher cuts

by Ann Sutherland on 05/04/17

It is very simple:  Projections are for 997 additional students in our middle and high schools.

Reduction in core staffing is 57.

More kids, fewer core teachers.  

Curriculum budget increasing.

Here is the district summary on the climate survey

by Ann Sutherland on 05/02/17

Dr. Scribner released this information yesterday.  The district-level data is on the information tab.  I have asked for campus x campus data and will post it when it comes.

Attached are the 2017 Teacher Survey Results (83% response rate).  

Highlights include: 

  • Overall, positive responses from teachers: 
    • 89% of teachers agreed that school leadership encourages them to implement their professional learning
    • 86% of teachers feel safe at work 
    • 79%-85% of teachers feel they have the tools, technology, and resources to do their job
  • Low items across all levels: 
    • Discipline:  Only 48% feel that discipline is consistently enforced at their campus, and only 48% feel that unruly students are not allowed to disrupt the learning environment. 
    • Morale:  57% of teachers agree that morale has improved at their campus this year

Cuts to secondary core teachers--math error???

by Ann Sutherland on 05/01/17

You can help on this one.  If you know of a large core class, please let me know.  You can call anonymously.

By the way, the cuts are not based on "core" classes as the board was told.  They are based on the total school staffing.

BTW, Dr. Scribner is "doubling down" on his decision to reduce teachers.  He wrote me yesterday.  

Is this why our test scores are so low?

by Ann Sutherland on 05/01/17

Dr. Scribner is basing his proposed secondary teacher staffing reduction, increasing from $5 to $30 million over the next six years, on data showing that our secondary schools are more heavily staffed by teachers than comparable districts.  We know the purpose of this proposal is to take money out of the schools and move control of the millions of dollars to the central office.  But what is the real comparison?

Ahh, the truth comes out:  Staffing throughout our district is actually very much like the staffing in these other districts when one compares the TOTAL district rather than cherry-picking segments of it..  Check this out:

District student:teacher ratios (from
Dallas 14.9
Austin 14.3
Houston 16.0
El Paso 13.5
Arlington 15.3
Aldine 15.8

If we are comparable to other districts PK-12, and higher in the secondary schools, this means our ELEMENTARY staffing must be much LOWER.

Gosh.  Do you suppose this is why our student performance is so low?