A lot of misinformation has been exchanged here and I hope I can make more sense out of it for everyone. First: "Balanced Literacy" has been around since the early 90's. It was designed as a balance between the two warring camps in reading/language arts - the "Whole Language" group and the "Phonics/Back to the Basics" group. The "experts" had been fighting for thirty years over which way was the best way to teach reading and writing. Many educators like myself were tired of the terrible "swings" between the two methods and we tried to make an amalgamation of both ideologies. Reading texts began using parts of the initiative twenty years ago.
Most comments here seem to think it is a form of curriculum - it simply is not! It is a group of teaching methods that texts give teachers to use with their classes. It certainly is not a state adopted curriculum but almost all elementary texts have elements of the program. Throughout the past 15 years, Garvey teachers have had CONTINUAL training in the use of these teaching methods (at least twice, since they have new texts every seven years). The problem arises when a superintendent states that NONE of the teachers are using the methodology. How was that evaluation of teachers arrived at? Ms. Johnson spent 3 -5 minutes in "...every classroom in the district..." at the beginning of the year! I have evaluated teachers and it is nearly impossible to get a clear picture of their methodology in that short of time. How do we know if they were even observed while teaching reading or writing?
Another misconception in this blog is the belief that our teachers are not using the state standards to design their lessons. This couldn't be further from the truth. 15 years ago this district began designing assessments for the state standards and designing a report card that reflected to the parents their child's success in passing the standards. In 2004 I took the material we developed to a statewide conference on the standards and people from all around California were amazed on what our district had done. Of course, as the standards change so will the assessments, but, to say our teachers do not know how to "unwrap the standards" is simply fantasy.
This battle in Garvey is not over the lack of direction in the district, it's about truth and candor. It's about how to treat and respect your professional employees. Its about the definition of "change". What do the commentators mean when they say Garvey needs to change? What is their vision of the district to be? Change for the purpose of change brings chaos.
In my opinion, in the past eight years our teachers have made terrific strides in meeting the needs of their students. Garvey has continually been on the cusp of "change" - Standards Based Assessments, Response to Intervention, Professional Learning Communities, The Leader in Me, Wellness ... the list goes on and on. The "changes" we've experienced in the past two years are a regression to failed policies and methodologies.
Many of the complaints I have read here seem to me to be personal vendettas against certain unnamed teachers. Many of the "changes" discussed here - and implemented by the superintendent - are, in reality, falling back on the failed policies of the past: unwarranted demands from administrators, punishment if every dictum is not followed, blanket condemnation of every past practice in the district, downgrading the skills of EVERY teacher. This sort of BULLYING has to stop if our district wants to survive!