Ed Tech Resource Teacher and SDEA Member Mickey Sullivan sounded the alarm at last week’s SDEA Town Hall meeting when she asked SDUSD School Board Trustees Richard Barrera and Michael McQuary why our district is spending money to travel to Florida to recruit educational researcher and author, Dr. Robert Marzano, while claiming to have a $125M structural deficit and laying off 1,400 educators and staff. Please watch the whole video because 1) Mickey details most of the cuts and the district’s “equity” hypocrisy. 2) McQuary’s answer at the very end is jaw-dropping.
Rodriguez Elementary Teacher Heather Poland caught most of Mickey’s question on video, but missed the first part. Mickey opened by talking about how she feels like our district is moving away from child-centered education and decision-making, and has begun making adult-centered decision. When she first started talking, I got a little nervous because I remember when the district would claim that saving jobs made our district adult-centered. Thankfully, Mickey nailed it. Stopping layoffs means keeping our kids at the center of education by ensuring that programs and services are in place to protect and support them.
If we are in a fiscal crisis, why are we coordinating efforts with internationally renowned educational researcher and author, Dr. Robert Marzano, and his team? I understand that work has already begun, including flight and travel expenses for high-level district administrators to travel to Florida. I cannot believe that any of this is free. As a parent and a tax payer, I am wondering how the leadership and board can knowingly move forward with such a measure while we are eliminating core supports, such as librarians, teachers, custodians, technology support services, mental health workers, site-level administrators, and bus drivers, for example.
It has been said that Marzano is a gift that principals can give to teachers and students. A gift? Marzano has never been an educator, and while his research is academically based, does it concern you at all that this effort is coming at a time when we are enduring deep cuts that are directly impact students? Marzano is not a gift to our students; that is adult centered. Do you really think it’s a gift to our teachers and students?
As a parent, tax payer, and voter, I feel a better gift would be to return custodians and mental health professionals, who are often the first responders in emergencies; librarians and special education personnel who support our schools, students, and communities in dynamic and equitable ways. My personal children spend every day in the library and I have witnessed their librarian at their school meeting with same student every day after school to discuss literature, non-fiction, and her interests in career and college.
Prep time and classroom teachers who develop our students’ academic, creative, and social skills; and technology support personnel to maintain and sustain the work done by voter approved bond measures S and Z.
Can you address the financial woes of the district and justify the work being done with Dr. Marzano and other outside consultant groups?
Trustee Barrera side-steps her question about restoring resources for our kids including wrap-around services by saying he hopes SDEA negotiates them into the contract. Barrera and the SDUSD Board has the ability to vote to give a directive to the bargaining team to do exactly what he hopes SDEA negotiates.
Mickey isn’t buying it and pushes back on him:
Aren’t you worried that that work and those decisions have been made by the district without really, truly discussing this with the union… The supports that our teachers are using for Special Ed, and ELSTs… what I’m watching is a dismantling of that work and now the work is being focused more on adults and enriching teachers’ knowledge.
Everybody in this room is highly educated. Most of our teachers, I believe, have Masters degrees; I know several with Doctorates, several with multiple credentials and I’m really concerned that our work is not student centered right now –the work of the district, the vision. I mean, I hear “equity”. I hear about equity all the time, but then when I hear VPs are being eliminated because of school numbers and NOT because of their needs, that’s not equitable.
When I hear about the Special Education department being cut, and I know those people work really hard to make sure that the rights of our students are being upheld, and they are being cut and they have to reapply for their positions. In my own position, I’ve been moved Clusters three times. And every time, I have to redevelop the relationships… It’s a lot of work and effort to make sure we are actually reaching the needs of students and their best interests…
I don’t need Marzano as a gift. What I need is to know that when I send my children to school, or when they go off to college the other children that are going to our schools, that they are getting the supports that they need to become community members, to be participants, to be active, to be college and career ready, to be 21st Century learners, global citizens. I just really worry that that’s not the focus of our district right now.
McQuary responds by telling us how school boards work: “Boards have a different function than administration…” Blah, blah, edubabble,
But then at the end, he floors us by saying: “For me, if we are bringing in outside consultants, because they need to address the issues that we can’t do internally. If we could do them internally, I’m sure we’d be reaching out (inaudible).
As you can see in the video, I was extremely upset when I heard him say this. But this is a really good example of how people believe whoever they spend the most time with. McQuary is new to town and obviously spends WAY more time with district staff than he does rank and file teachers. He made sure we all knew he used to be a teacher and has sat on our side of the bargaining table before. Big whoop. He wasn’t here during the Bersin era, has no idea how much money was diverted from classrooms and spent on leadership training, doesn’t realize the people running our district now were Bersinites, and has no idea what capacity our district possesses so he believes what he is told.
Shane Parmely, Bell Middle School