Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Interim Superintendent

Last night at the School Board Meeting I was unable to attend due to weather, the School Board appointed David Stoddard, current Area Administrator of Schools over the Riverton and Herriman Feeder Systems, as the interim superintendent.  See Salt Lake Tribune article or the Jordan District Board Summary.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Salary Schedule Fixed

According to Current, the approximate $30 salary problem will be fixed on your paycheck this week.  See Current Blog for more information.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Terra Linda School Visit

I had a great meeting with the teachers at Terra Linda!  We talked about the search for a new superintendent.  I showed the UEA TEF video and answered questions about that.  They seemed like a very supportive group.  I look forward to visiting every school this year.

November Legislative Council (AR) Meeting

I feel like I did not lead the meeting well.  I hope you can chalk it up to my inexperience.  I apologize to secondary teachers for the extensive discussion around elementary issues.  I know those issues need to be heard, and the teachers need to share what is happening at their buildings.  I have talked to a couple of other local presidents to gain ideas on how to handle local concerns that are focused on one group and need the kind of time we devoted to them last night.

I have decided I will allot 20 minutes each meeting for building concerns.  If we need more time, we will finish the items on the agenda, and those who wish to stay to continue the discussion on the building concerns will be welcome to do so.  Those for whom the issues do not apply would be able to leave.  I do not want AR's to feel the meeting is a waste of time, nor do I want AR's to feel they are not being heard.  I hope this format will prevent a needed discussion from taking away the other items of business and training on the agenda.

If any of the AR's have other suggestions, I am open to hearing them.

The contact information for the NEA Value Builders representatives are Darren Moffitt - 801-835-8005 and John Forsgren - 801-663-4687.  You could talk to them about doing presentations at your schools or talking with interested individuals.

Remember the new AR portion of the JEA JEA website.  The Red Flag Moments PowerPoint is there for you to use with your members to advise them when they need additional help or representation.

November DAC

The District Advisory Committee met yesterday afternoon.  We discussed principals who are not following the newly negotiated item about Grade Transmittal Days being optional, and that teachers will complete their grades on time, either prior to or on that day.

High school Parent Teacher Conferences were discussed.  This item will go to the new committee that will begin meeting in January to look at possibly restructuring to make better use of time.

AP funding was addressed.  Funding is based on the number of students who passed the tests the previous year.  However, the amount of funding changes from year to year.  This is very difficult to predict.

Suspensions in 9th-12th grade show on the transcript, which is a permanent document.  Once information is on a transcript, it cannot be changed.

The time to administer the PLAN test in middle and high schools was a problem.  They would like a late start, but the logistics of transportation make this difficult.  Questions need to be directed to Clyde Mason.

A question about our calendared holiday breaks not matching surrounding districts was brought up.  We have year round schools, and try to match our traditional and year round holiday breaks as closely as possible.  This makes adding days to Thanksgiving, Winter, or Spring breaks nearly impossible.  Anyone who has served on the Calendar Committee recognizes this.

Finally, we reviewed some recently revised policies.


I spent most of yesterday searching school websites for names and contact information for School Community Council Chairpeople and PTA Presidents.  I would like to share the TEF message with parents, so they can join us in lobbying the legislature for education funding.  If you are a teacher representative to your SCC or PTA, please send contact information to me via e-mail.  I have started contacting these individuals to set up times for presentations.  I hope to schedule more over the next couple of months.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Elementary Reading and Math

I spent the majority of my morning on the phone with Kathy Wittke, Elementary Language Arts Consultant, and Maggie Cummings, Math Consultant, about expectations and roles.

I talked to Kathy about the job of the Literacy Coaches, how that has changed, and what is expected of teachers.  The Literacy Coaches are to be coaching classroom teachers on Tier 1 (classroom) interventions and best practices for teaching literacy.  The Coaches can come into classrooms to demonstrate parts of the Balanced Literacy model, work directly with individual teachers or teams on improving part of their instruction, and help with intervention ideas for teachers to use in their classrooms.  The Coaches are not to be tutoring students.  They can do brief training of aides to tutor students who need Tier 2 (pull-out but not Resource) interventions.  The Literacy Coaches are supposed to be effecting progress for the most students, which translates to helping all teachers become better teachers of literacy skills for all students.  The role is going to be redefined and narrowed in the spring.

Laura Finlinson, Director of Curriculum and Staff Development, has asked that Guided Reading Levels be turned in monthly on all students.  These levels can come from running records, PALS, or Fountas and Pinnell.  She said that is the ideal, but at minimum, students who are below grade level should have their GRL reported monthly.

I talked to Maggie about the Math Scope and Sequence, Blocks, and Benchmark Assessments.  The Scope and Sequence was designed to cover the state core curriculum.  The Blocks within each Benchmark can be taught in any order.  For example, teachers may wish to teach Block 3, then Block 1, then Block 2.  That is fine.  The Block and Benchmark Assessments are meant to be used in a formative way.  Teach the objectives, use the assessment, remediate as needed based on the outcomes of the assessment.  Maggie has asked that teachers submit their class average on the Benchmark Assessments to their principals.  Principals are then to find a grade average for each Benchmark and send that to Maggie.  She then compiles District averages which are sent back to principals.  The purpose of the District gathering this information is so teachers can see how their students are doing in relation to the District as a whole.  Approximately 70% of schools are participating in this data collection process.

For the past 20 years, Jordan District as it is (west side) has had average math scores lower than the state average.  Last year was the first time Jordan's averages were higher than state averages.  Since implementing the Jordan Scope and Sequence, Jordan's average math scores on the CRT's have increased 4.45% while the state increase has been 1.55%.  Schools who have fully implemented and used the Scope and Sequence and Benchmark Assessments with remediation as needed have seen as many as 25% more students score 3 or 4 on the Math CRT.

Using data to guide teaching is best practice.  We should all know where our students are as far as reading levels and math concepts.  Gathering and reporting the data will help us know who needs remediation on what concepts.  Discuss the data in PLC's for the benefit of those students who need the interventions.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jordan Credit Union Honors Two JEA Members

Kristi Cleverly at Midas Creek and Jeff Smith at Jordan Resource Center were honored by the Jordan Credit Union.  Principals submit names to the credit union each week with a lucky winner drawn from those submitted.  The recognition comes with a check for $100.  Encourage your principal to submit your name!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Eastlake School Community Council

I attended the Eastlake School Community Council meeting tonight.  I was there to show the UEA TEF DVD and spread the message about making quality public schools a priority now.  See Utah's Future for more information.  The group seemed receptive to the information.

Slower Time

Things at the office have been pretty quiet the last couple of days.  I have been answering e-mails and preparing for upcoming meetings. 

Governor Herbert called a Special Session of the Legislature for Wednesday, November 17 to vote on accepting the Federal Jobs Fund Money.  Watch for more information after Wednesday's vote. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Association Elections

I know we just finished statewide elections, but the deadlines to declare candidacy for UEA and JEA positions are coming shortly. 

UEA Board of Director Positions

Any member is able to run for the following UEA Board of Director Positions. All positions start July 15, 2011. The date by which you must declare your candidacy is January 10, 2011 to Mark Mickelsen by completing the Declaration of Candidacy form found at
NEA State Director on the UEA Board of Directors (3-year term)
NEA State Director on the UEA Board of Directors (1-year term to finish a retiring member’s term)

Ethnic Minority Director on the UEA Board of Directors (3-year term)

These three positions are statewide elections. The two NEA State Director positions involve going to Washington D.C. four times a year to meet with NEA leaders and Utah Members of Congress to lobby for education. All three positions attend the NEA Representative Assembly annually and the UEA Board of Directors meetings held monthly, usually on Friday evenings.

Jordan Director on the UEA Board of Directors (3-year term)

Jordan NEA-RA successor Delegate (3-year term)

These two positions are Jordan UniServ (Jordan and Canyons) elections. Both attend the NEA Representative Assembly, and the first also attends UEA Board of Directors meetings held monthly, usually on Friday evenings.

JEA Executive Board Position

The JEA High School Representative on the Executive Board will be the only JEA position for election this year. Candidacy is declared in February, usually during the Legislative Council (AR) Meeting. Inform your building AR of your interest in running for the Executive Board.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

November Council of Local Presidents

This morning was the Council of Local Presidents, where all the local association presidents meet to discuss statewide issues. Your membership card should arrive in the mail by Thanksgiving.  Please watch for it and do not throw it away.

Legislative issues that are being discussed already include merit pay, property tax equalization, grading schools, retirement, funding student growth, funding charter schools, orderly termination, full-day Kindergarten, non-partisan school board races, trimester schedules, and ESEA. 

Educator Day on the Hill is being planned again.  They will most likely fall on Wednesdays and Fridays.  I will keep you posted on when those days are being held.  It is an interesting experience to spend a day talking with legislators and seeing how the process works.

UEA will have some of the sessions from Convention available for you to watch to earn relicensure points from your own home.  When that technology is ready, I will let you know.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November Jordan Education Foundation Meeting

This morning I attended the Jordan Education Foundation (JEF) Meeting.  They reported that every school had applications for Mini Grants submitted with 197 total applications.  This is the first time all schools were represented.  JEF does not have the money to fund all grants.  Awards should be presented before Winter Break.  The JEF Board loves to hear back from teachers about how the items purchased through the grants enhanced learning for students.

Amber Barron, a student at South Hills Middle, presented about the MESA Program she started there through help from a JEF Special Grant.  You can read more about Amber at Utah Mama.

JEF is hosting their annual fundraising breakfast on Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at the Gathering Place at Gardner Village.  The breakfast is free; however, attendees are asked to donate to JEF.  If you know a business owner or community leader who should be invited, please contact me.

Superintendent Newbold discussed the 2020 Vision of the Governor's Education Excellence Commission.  "By 2020 and thereafter, at least 66% of Utahns ages 25 to 64 will ahve a postsecondary degree or certificate, ensurinag a well-educated workforce that meets the needs of Utah employers leading to great economic prosperity and a better quality of life."  The strategic imperatives to reach that vision are:
  1. Bolster early childhood education
  2. Improve instructional quality and curricular alignments
  3. Strengthen postsecondary education
  4. align educational attainment and vocational training with economic development
  5. Utilize technology to effectively and efficiently accomplish strategic imperatives

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

First Negotiated Meeting with Superintendent Newbold

I attended my first meeting with Superintendent Newbold per our negotiated agreement.  We discussed several issues, but I believe two of them are most pertinent for teachers.

I asked about the possibility of additional year-round schools being moved to a traditional calendar for next school year.  The Year-Round Policy Manual states that principals will be notified of the possibility eight months in advance, which is this month.  Superintendent Newbold stated that the District looked closely at all year-round schools last year, and he doesn't think there are any that have the housing capacity to sustain the move to a traditional calendar.  He said that if there is a "significant budget deficit" again and the District does have to move school schedules, schools may not find out until the spring.  He also stated that this would not be the first place the District would look for money to fill a deficit hole.

The other issue relating directly to teachers working conditions is on meetings with angry parents.  Superintendent Newbold recognizes that these types of meetings are more likely to occur due to the social environment in which we find ourselves.  If parents do not like what they hear from a principal, they will often go to their School Board member.  The School Board members wonder why teachers will not meet with parents and then tell the teacher to meet with the parents. 

A couple of suggestions for these types of meetings.  If you know in advance, ask to meet with your principal for five minutes prior to the meeting.  Ask your principal about the following:
  • What does the parent wish to discuss?
  • What is the objective of the meeting?  What is the intended outcome?
  • Are you (the principal) on my side?  Will you support my position?
Parents need to hear that the principal supports the teacher's position.  Sometimes, if the teacher's position is opposed to the school position or the District position, the principal should tell you that before the meeting with the parent.

If you are called to the office to meet with an angry parent without notice, you have the right to ask for the meeting to be rescheduled for another time.  You also have the right to take JEA representation with you to the meeting.  The representative could be your building AR, another teacher who is a JEA member, or someone from the JEA office.  Laura and Cindy will be presenting helpful information on this topic to AR's at the next meeting on November 17.

Superintendent Newbold and I have scheduled these meetings through May, though I will start meeting with the Interim Superintendent in January.  In addition, the new committee negotiated will begin functioning in January with the Interim Superintendent.

Disappointing Elections

Gary Herbert will continue as Governor.  Only one of JEA's recommended candidates won, Jim Bird in West Jordan.  In addition, some key education supporters lost their State Legislative seats.  It is going to be a very difficult year at the State Legislature come January.  Teachers are going to have to fight just to maintain what we receive from the State Legislature.