We hope all have survived the multiple snowfalls. The lead item, obviously, is the new student assignment proposal that will be submitted to the school committee for approval. Here’s a Globe report as well.
There has been a lot of charter school chatter in the news. Last week Commissioner Mitchell Chester recommended an expansion of 1,585 new charter seats in Boston, including UP Academy II which will take over the Marshall School. In addition, seven existing Boston-based charters would be allowed to expand under his proposal, approved last night at a BESE mtg. See the BESE press release here. This is yet another sad chapter in the continued growth of a two-tiered system in the BPS.
Reuters published an interesting piece last week on how charters “get the students they want.” Here’s an excerpt:
“Students may be asked to submit a 15-page typed research paper, an original short story, or a handwritten essay on the historical figure they would most like to meet. There are interviews. Exams. And pages of questions for parents to answer, including: How do you intend to help this school if we admit your son or daughter?
“These aren’t college applications. They’re applications for seats at charter schools…”
The RETELL sessions have begun, and hundreds have signed up. Hundreds more are on a waiting list as the Department of Justice mandate is implemented. On the matter of obtaining graduate credits for lane advancement for the completion of RETELL…. don’t waste your money. Every BTU member taking the course will receive 3.75 ALC credits, which are similar to in-service and interchangeable with graduate credits for all purposes. These credits are a new feature of the BTU contract and do not count against the limit of 30 in-service credits. There is NO reason, therefore, to pay for graduate course credit unless for some reason you may particularly need “official” graduate credits for a Master’s Degree. Again, for all other lane movement, the ALC credit designation will suffice.
Also, on RETELL–there is a bit of misinformation going around that suggests that the DESE will NOT pay for the so-called ‘bridge’ RETELL course(s) that will be announced in the fall. Yes, they will. Every core teacher will get ‘one no-cost opportunity’ to take a ‘bridge or full-length SEI Endorsement course.’ So, if you have already taken some of the prior SEI category training, you will be able to take a RETELL-shortened bridge course at no cost beginning in the fall.
You Gotta be Kidding Me
English High School got a grant to provide something called Q-TELL to its staff. Q-TELL is similar to RETELL. Everyone hoped that Q-TELL would take the place of RETELL. Because staff at English owed, given its Turnaround Status, all sorts of PD hours, it seemed like a good way to go: Take Q-TELL and avoid RETELL. A nice residual side effect: taking Q-TELL would fill up some of those 130 PD hours, which are becoming increasingly hard to fill up. (Just ask anyone at a Turnaround School.) Well, long story short, the state did not approve Q-TELL as a suitable replacement for RETELL, so now everyone at English has to take RETELL at some point.
So, people asked, if we have to take RETELL anyway and it is close to being like Q-TELL, then let’s forget about Q-TELL and take something different and more useful. Why take the same PD — or essentially the same PD — twice? Don’t people have better things to do? And can’t the school district find a different source of PD to make better use of everyone’s time?
But noooooo. There are hours to fill up. Many hours to fill up. And school administrators already have Q-TELL lined up. Q-TELL it will be — even at the expense of virtual duplication. After all, there are 130 hours to fill up and it’d take too much effort for school administrators to design “new” PD. Is it any wonder why teachers are skeptical of the district’s ability to provide high quality and relevant PD? And is it any wonder why teachers are skeptical of the district’s quest to add extra time? Especially when the district cannot fill the time it already has.