Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It's Banned Books Week; Go Read One of Them to Your Child

From the ACLU:
For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has fought to make sure Americans have the right to read what they want. Despite our many victories, there are still misguided attempt to ban books. The American Library Association keeps track — some of the most frequently challenged books from 2015 include the best seller Fifty Shades of Grey along with Fun Home and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (both of which were turned into Tony Award-winning Broadway shows, by the way).
Kids Books That Have Been Banned

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl
The Witches, by Roald Dahl
Where’s Waldo?, by Martin Hanford
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, by Kathryn Harper
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
Captain Underpants series, by Dav Pilkey
Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein
*Lists courtesy of the American Library Association

Homework and Kids

 KUOW education reporter Ann Dornfeld is working on a story about the new no/low-homework policies at several schools, including Whittier and West Woodland. She’s heard from plenty of parents in favor of these new policies, and is looking for a parent who wants to keep homework part of their child’s routine. She’s at adornfeld@kuow.org.

College-Bound Testing Info from OSPI

To note, the press release references a "federal fee reduction program" so that is one discount available to F/RL students for AP testing. I'm still checking about the state and the district.
Results released today by the College Board show that the number of students taking the SAT has remained steady but that PSAT and AP participation has increased.

Cedar Park: District's New Boundary Increases Inequity

Guest post by parent, Kevin Hilman, via the Seattle Education blog:

For the last year and a half, the Olympic Hills Elementary School community (in interim at Cedar Park) has pushed hard for Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to revisit the proposed Cedar Park boundary due to major concerns about equity and safety.
ell_overlay_cpLast week, SPS published its recommendation to the school board’s operations committee, and unfortunately, the proposal addresses capacity, but not equity.  We are very frustrated, and disappointed with the SPS proposal.
The SPS recommendation is especially troubling because a taskforce (including teachers and parents, myself included) met with SPS staff to attempt to use the SPS racial equity “toolkit” to analyze the boundary, yet the final decision making (which did not include teachers or parents) was based on capacity, not equity.

Have a look at the numbers and compare for yourself.

First, the Cedar Park numbers from the current, board-approved boundaries for 2017-18. Remember, these are the numbers that caused the initial equity concerns that led to community meetings and the taskforce:
  • 38.6% English language learners (ELL)
  • 65.3% free/reduced lunch (FRL)
  • 72.2% historically underserved
Then, the Cedar Park numbers for the proposed amendment.
  • 43.8% English language learners (ELL)
  • 69.0% free/reduced lunch (FRL)
  • 76.2% historically underserved
All along, our community’s desire has been to reduce the concentration of historically underserved students in Cedar Park.  However, because the proposed solution is based on capacity rather than equity, the percentages for all the categories actually increase.

If you have concerns or comments on this recommendation, let the SPS staff know by writing to growthboundaries@seattleschools.organd also write to the School Board atschoolboard@seattleschools.org.  The School Board will have the final decision on the boundaries.
There will also be upcoming community meetings where SPS will share these decisions:
  • Sept 28, 6:30pm, Olympic Hills Meeting (at Cedar Park)
  • Oct 5, 6:30pm, John Rogers Meeting (at John Rogers)
Please come and share your thoughts.

Tuesday Open Thread

From  Seattle Spec Ed PTSA: first meeting of the year - Tuesday, September 27, 7:00-9:00 pm at the John Stanford Center. There will be some time devoted to an open forum to discuss member concerns/ideas, Parent Partners will be joining us, our own Hannah Marzynski will present on the new SPS Spec Ed website and Wyeth Jessee will be our featured speaker talking about all the recent staff changes in special education. And there will be plenty of time for some Q and A. Please join us!

From The Stranger on Mayor Murray's budget and public education:

He's also pledged to "triple public preschool classrooms by 2018 and undertake several education programs focused on racial inequities."

He proposes expanding “My Brother’s Keeper,” a mentoring program for African American male middle school students, increase slots in summer learning programs, and expanding efforts to improve attendance and behavior in schools. 

No word on where he's going to put all those pre-K classrooms.

No word on his promise earlier this year at the Education Summit to end homelessness for Seattle children by the end of this year.

KUOW has a story on the SGP (student growth percentile) that appears on your child's state test score report.
"I hate to hear myself give you this advice, but my advice to parents is to ignore the student growth percentiles," Sireci said. Measurement error is much greater on standardized tests than on a doctor's office scale, he said.
"These growth percentiles are based on two or more tests administered over two or more years, and that measurement error actually compounds," Sireci said. "There is a need to come up with new and better ways to measure students' progress over time, but this is not the way."
 KUOW also had a good (early) story on the new SPS bell times.

Oh joy, a Minecraft game for public schools, from Engadget.

I'm adding this one in - one boy's guide to 3rd grade.  Very cute.

What's on your mind?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Growth Boundary Meetings

As I previously reported, I attended last week's Growth Boundary meeting at Eckstein.  I estimate that there were about 50 people there, many from Green Lake Elementary and Sacajawea Elementary.  Staff in attendance included Enrollment's Ashley Davies, Facilities' Flip Herndon as well as Board member, Jill Geary. 

The next boundary meeting is this Tuesday at Hamilton at 6:30 pm. and on Thursday at Mercer MS at 6:30 pm.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

State Superintendent Debate

Besides the forum this week on Wednesday, September 28th, there is also this event with the candidates for state superintendent of public instruction.

League of Women Voters (LWV of WA Education Fund and LWV - Seattle-King County) Saturday, October 8th at 10 am at the Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center at Garfield High.

This forum is for Commissioner of Public Lands and Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Spanish and Somali translation will be provided as well as childcare.

Seattle Schools This Week

Tuesday, September 27th
Growth Boundaries Information Meeting, Hamilton IMS from 6:30-7:30 pm. 

Wednesday, September 28th
Board Work Session from 4:30-6:45 pm.
Topic 1 from 4:30-5:15 pm - Executive Directors of Schools
Topic 2 from 5:15-6:45 pm - 24 Credit Graduation Requirement Implementation- Board Policy Review and Revision.

I'm not exactly sure what can be said about the role of executive directors but, from my own experience and listening to readers, I'm not sure they serve a great purpose.  It is more than a bit surprising that parents are told to go to executive directors if they cannot solve an issue with a principal and not one single parent has ever told me it helped. 

State Superintendent Forum at Town Hall.  Tickets are $10 and doors open at 6:15 pm with the debate starting at 7 pm.  The debate is sponsored by Arc of King County and Washington Autism Alliance and Advocacy.  The theme is Diversity and Inclusion in Our Schools and the debate will be moderated by Dr. Illene Schwartz, UW professor of early childhood and special education.

Thursday, September 29th
Growth Boundaries Information Meeting, Mercer IMS from 6:30-7:30 pm

Saturday, Oct. 1
Community meeting with Director Rick Burke at the Greenwood Library from 3:30-5:00 pm.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Garfield Football Game To Receive Extra Security Tonight

From our friends at the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog:
The reaction was widespread, divided, and intense last week after the entire Garfield High football team voted to kneel during the national anthem for the rest of its season as a silent protest against racial injustice.
While many were supportive, backlash against players, coaches, and the school was in some instances extreme and threatening as news of the demonstration spread nationwide. Seattle Public Schools does not publicly address safety issues concerning specific students or staff, but a spokesperson said the school and Seattle Police are taking precautionary measures during Friday night’s game.
“There will be increased SPS safety and security presence at the game,” said SPS spokesperson Luke Deucy. “SPD will also increase police presence at the game.”
Garfield is playing Chief Sealth tonight.  I would hope no one would want to harm students playing a football game. 

Free Museum Day, Tomorrow, September 24th

Via Smithsonian Magazine

It's free museum day on Saturday, September 24th.  You need to download a ticket.  Here's some of the locations in our region:

Asian Art Museum
Museum of History and Industry
NW African American Museum
Museum of Flight
Bellevue Arts Museum
Asian Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Schools 2016-2017 Enrollment Numbers

Update: the district tweeted out this AM:

Early data says K-3 will hit class size targets & receive full funding.

Here's the link to their explanation of the situation. Monday is when principals learn about staffing changes. 

end of update

A reader had put this up elsewhere; I have the numbers for all the schools and will get them up soon.

2016-2017 High School Enrollment (numbers from Oct 2015, with % change.)

Ballard High School 1,849 (1702, +9%)
Chief Sealth International High School 1,120 (1174, -5%)
Cleveland STEM High School 854 (842, +1%)
Franklin High School 1,260 (1308, -4%)
Garfield High School 1,759 (1714, +3%)
Ingraham International High School 1,346 (1235, +9%)
Nathan Hale High School 1,180 (1179, +0%)
Nova High School 331 (344, -4%)
Rainier Beach High School 700 (671, +4%)
Roosevelt High School 1,741 (1715, +2%)
The Center School 230 (270, -15%)
West Seattle High School 997 (994, +0%)

Friday Open Thread

I attended the first community meeting on the growth boundaries last night.  A bit of a mess.  No signage as to where to go, started late, didn't have the microphone working for quite awhile - not good.   Flip Herndon was even wandering around like the rest of us, trying to figure it out where to go.  So many map and yet so little information.

I'll have a write-up on this meeting but you might want to get ready for some loud advocating.  It appears the staff is somewhat trying to twist the arms of the Board in order to get what staff wants.  The Board should have none of it.

Growing pains?  SPS is not alone.  From the Issaquah press:
The average size of the district’s elementary school is 622 students, while middle schools are averaging 960. The three high schools’ average is skewed as Liberty has just 1,200 students while Skyline and Issaquah have more than 2,200 each.
Good op-ed over at Crosscut by Bill Keim, the head of the Washington School Administrators Association on McCleary.  What makes it good reading is his documentation of spending by the state.
During the past four decades, a big part of why Washington’s education funding system went from near the top among the states to near the bottom is the powerful pressure exerted on the legislature by anti-tax forces. This isn’t just an opposition to new taxes. As the attached graph from the Washington State Budget and Policy Center shows, we’re nowhere near the level of state revenue as a percent of personal income that we were two decades ago.

In a 2014 presentation on this topic, David Schumacher, director for the state’s Office of Financial Management, said this decline represented a loss of $15 billion in revenue for the biennium. That would be more than enough to address the state’s education funding shortfall.
Community Meeting on Saturday:Director Patu - Caffe Vita from 10am-11am
Community Meeting on Sunday: Director Geary - NE Library from 2:00-3:30 pm

What's on your mind?