School Board Testimony Given by Dora Taylor on September 16, 2009
Regarding the Alternative School Audit
There is an alternative school audit that is scheduled for October 12-14 and yet, as of last Thursday, a new project manager has not been assigned to the audit team and the audit team has not been selected.
As a community, we have great concerns about how this audit is being handled. The original project manager for the audit, Jane Dudley, who had met with alternative school representatives previously, was aware of our concerns and was willing to work with us on clarifying the process and criteria for the audit. Now with a new project manager yet to be assigned, we are concerned about having the opportunity to once again meet with the new audit manager and have discussions regarding how the programs will be evaluated and who will be doing the evaluations.
The goals of this audit have not been clarified as of today, September 16th and the audit is less than a month away. We do not know what information will be requested by the auditors or the set of criteria upon which our programs will be judged.
It has also been requested that the auditors, instead of meeting with just two parents from each school, instead participate in a roundtable discussion with students, teachers and staff to receive a more comprehensive picture of the different programs. This approach is more reflective of the idea of shared governance upon which alternative schools are based. It has also been requested that to complement what will be short visits to each school, that each program have the opportunity to provide the audit team with written material regarding the program and, in the case of Nova, examples of students’ work.
We also request that before the audit report is presented to the Superintendent and the School Board, that each school have the opportunity to fact check the information about their schools. The design of the audit calls for individuals with no connection to Seattle schools to visit our schools for a few days, review written materials, conduct interviews, spend an hour or two in each school and then prepare a comprehensive report regarding what's happening in seven different schools and how well those schools are performing. It seems that the potential for misinformation to creep into the report is large and that one way to avoid that prospect is to allow those who are most familiar with the schools to fact check the report before it is finalized.
These are our concerns and we ask that they be addressed promptly. If our schools cannot be provided with answers to these concerns by the end of this week, three weeks before the audit, then we request that the audit be postponed until next spring.