Thursday, February 4, 2010

Crappy! Chart! Thursday! Discovering Math Edition: $10.3m - $2.4m = $11.1m

Okay, I count... a bunch of slides in this thing. So I am going to consider myself averaged out on the next... bunch of Crappy! Chart! Thursdays! and pretty much completely blow them off. I know it sounds nuts, but there are things I like better than being a nerrrrd.

And yesterday provided me with a compare-and-contrast what I like better: nerdiness, or other schtuff. I got to read to one of the classes at my boy's school, and, look, it may not sound awesome, but it was. The kids cheered when I came in (it's not the first time I've read to them), they giggled gratifyingly at the different voices I used for the characters, and they mobbed me for a group hug when I left (awesome. even if the huggy little Petri dishes may land me an antibiotic reunion as a result).

After that? I dressed up, put on lipstick and make-up (I hate public speaking, and want to weasel out of it. Weirdly, putting on make-up makes me feel like I can't back out of it. Because if I didn't stab myself in the eye with the mascara — which has been known to happen, and holy crap does that hurt — I am somehow obliged to go through with it), and trotted off to a school board meeting for my very own 3 minute talk, and watched the board vote in funding for STEM, a program that I think could be wonderful, but that the district cannot afford. And the district doesn't always have the best track record on execution/implementation.

I have reservations that go beyond financial — ultimately, I think it's a program that will largely serve kids who will achieve anyway (I don't begrudge achievers a great program, but I'm troubled by one that gives them one by very probably removing the less-achiever-y kids from the building). If you were sucking it up at math, you might decide to buckle down and do better. But would you sign up for four years of catching up, at a school where your lack of math skills would affect your performance in almost every subject? Would you miss participating in sports or after-school activities? I am a nerd. I was a nerd (although not a math nerd). At thirteen or fourteen, there is no way I would have signed up for that if I'd been behind in math. And as my persistence at crappy charts may show, I can be something of a glutton for punishment.

However. It's in. And the school faculty that attended the meeting were visibly delighted. I disagreed with the vote. I was disappointed (but not surprised) by the vote. Even so. I cannot find it in me to say anything to the Cleveland faculty but a very sincere: mazel tov. I wish you every success.

At any rate, choosing which part of my day was better: cheering midget army, or be-lipsticked dull meeting? Hmmmm. Tough choice.

A not-very-quick note on the charts: I think (of course I do, I went to the trouble of making lousy charts about it) that it behooves everyone to do a little sorting through some of STEM's funding. Not because of STEM itself, but more of the ripple effect one program can create on funding for everyone else.

The remainder of the charts are follow-up on Central Administration issues. Which I also think are pretty interesting. You know how the district said they had reduced the number of coaches by $2.4 milllllion? Um... that may not be quite the case. Unless by "reduce" you mean "added $800,000 of 'em." That's right, kids, district leadership did their math like this: $10.3m - $2.4m = $11.1m. Hmm. Someone learned their math using the reform method. The plus side of reform is that you still get points for having a great verbal explanation, and I am sure a really terrific one is all set to go. If... by terrific, you mean "we at Seattle Public Schools are committed to an excellent education for every student."

What I find a little concerning about the coaching investment is that coaching is just one tactic in a professional development strategy. So if the district is spending $11 milllllllion (yes, I love trying for the Dr. Evil inflection on millions and billions, and I love beating it to death) on coaches, how much are they spending on professional development as a whole? Use your Discover-sh-schhmovering math on that.


kellie said...

I love Crappy! Chart! Thursday!

Mr. Talkypants said...

Great chart pack! Hooray for Crappy. Chart. Thursday!!

Chris said...

Good job Meg. I'll have to try the makeup trick.

Meg said...

thanks, all. And, Chris, if you try the makeup thing, hopefully you'll skip the accidentally stabbing yourself in the eye with the mascara wand section.